A Comparison of Marx and Durkheim's Theories of the Structure of Modern Society

Length: 5 Pages 1209 Words

Introductory Essay: Marx and Durkheim There was once a time when the societies of the world were nothing more than a ruling class and a class that was ruled. In these feudal societies classes were set. There was little chance for a member of the ruling bourgeoisie class to cross over to the oppressed proletariat class or from the proletariat class to the bourgeoisie class. Every individual within each class had the routine for each day set out for him or her. There was little change in the lives of individuals of these societies. There was monotony in their work and their work did little more for them than keeping them alive. In those societies, in those times, there was scarce chance of bettering oneself. Then there came an era, a time of drastic change. The concept of industrialization and Capitalism was introduced to societies all over the world. Some societies accepted it while others condemned it. Those that accepted it became what was known as modern societies or simply put Capitalist societies. Capitalist or modern societies are very complex in structure. Many theorists have tried to explain or simplify the complexities of these societies, among the greatest of them Karl Marx and Emile Durkheim. In this short analy Continue...


Firstly, each theorist has a somewhat different view as to what the essential elements of modern society are. In analyzing Durkheim's theory of modern society, I will begin with the focal point of it, namely solidarity. They have both presented ways in which we can view and analyze our societies and the crucial elements of them. For Marx the division of labour and class conflict brought about social stratification, which resulted in alienation. They were also alienated from the means of production because they had no say in it's running. After all the inequality in the labour market, (stratification) workers were even alienated from enjoying life or finding personal fulfillment in it! Once again for Marx, the division of labour and conflict between capitalists and workers were crucial problems of modern society. In Marx's alienation there is exploitation of the working class by the Capitalists, which causes dysfunction. In order to combat anomie Durkheim asserts that people turn to religion. The peoples' state of confusion according to Durkheim is termed anomie. With mechanization came mass unemployment, which allowed for much competition among workers for jobs in factories and such. These are to Durkheim the essential elements of modern society with a strong focus on how society regulates values and norms. With organic solidarity social cohesion was based on each individual's dependence on every other in the society for survival. This 'mechanical solidarity' was soon replaced by 'organic solidarity'. After determining what resulted from modernization, Durkheim unlike Marx was interested in reforming not eliminating modern society. The people had to adapt to this quick and unclear change of the society.