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 analysis, I will attempt to compare and contrast Marx’s and Durkheim’s theories on the structure of modern society.
Firstly, each theorist has a somewhat different view as to what the essential elements of modern society are. For Marx the division of labour and class conflict brought about social stratification, which resulted in alienation. These for Marx were the crucial elements of modern society.
With Capitalism and modernity came industrialization and factories and in Capitalism this requires owners and workers. Stratification quickly emerged in this supposed society of equal opportunity. Marx expresses in his writings that class conflict was and is very much alive in every society from before feudal tim...