Max, Durkheims and Marx

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Sociology began in the mid nineteenth century in the middle of the European Industrial revolution. In many ways it was in response to that process, as journalists remarked on the exploitation, poverty, oppression and misery of the working class. some of the most influential sociologists of this period were: Karl Marx, Max Weber and Emile Durkheim's. Karl Marx was born in Trier, in the German Rhineland, in 1818. Although his family was Jewish they converted to Christianity so that his father could pursue his career as a lawyer in the face of Prussia's anti-Jewish laws. A precocious schoolchild, Marx studied law in Bonn and Berlin, and then wrote a PhD thesis in Philosophy, comparing the views of Democritus and Epicurus. On completion of his doctorate in 1841 Marx hoped for an academic job, but he had already fallen in with too radical a group of thinkers and there was no real prospect. Turning to journalism, Marx rapidly became involved in political and social issues, and soon found himself having to consider communist theory. Of his many early writings, four, in particular, stand out. ‘Contribution to a Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right, Introduction’, and ‘On The Jewish Question’, were both written in 1843 and published in the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher. The Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, written in Paris 1844, and the ‘Theses on Feuerbach’ of 1845, remained unpublished in Marx's lifetime. Marx is best known not as a philosopher but as a revolutionary communist, whose works inspired the foundation of many communist regimes in the twentieth century. It is hard to think of many who have had as much influence in the creation of the modern world. Trained as a philosopher, Marx turned away from philosophy in his mid-twenties, towards economics and politics. However, in addition to his overtly philosophical early work, his later writings have many points of contact with contemporary philosophical debates, especially in the philosophy of history and the social sciences, and in moral and political philosophy. Historical materialism — Marx's theory of history — is centered around the idea that forms of society rise and fall as they further and then impede the development of h bvcxcxc uman productive power. Marx sees the historical process as proceeding through a necessary series of modes of production, characterized by class struggle, culminating in communism. Marx's economic analysis of capitalism is based on his version of the labour theory of value, and includes the analysis of capitalist profit as the extraction of surplus value from the exploited proletariat. The analysis of history and economics come together in Marx's prediction of the inevitable economic breakdown of capitalism, to be replaced by communism. However Marx refused to speculate in detail about the nature of communism, arguing that it would arise through historical processes, and was not the realization of a pre-determined moral ideal. (History of Economic Thought) Karl Emil Maximilian Weber (1864–1920) was born in the Prussian city of Erfurt to a family of notable heritage. His father, Max Sr., came from a Westphalian family of merchants and industrialists in the textile business and went on to become a National Liberal parliamentarian of some note in Wilhelmine politics. Weber left home to enroll at the University of Heidelberg in 1882, interrupting his studies after two years to fulfill his year of military service at Strassburg (Strasbourg). After his release from the military, Weber was asked by his father to finish his studies at the University of Berlin, where he could live at home. Weber's significance during his lifetime was considerable among German social scientists, many of whom were his personal friends in Heidelberg or Berlin; but because of the fact that little of his work was published in book form during his lifetime and because most of the journals in which he published had restricted audiences of scholarly specialists, his...
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