Term Paper: Society How Does Durkheim

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How does Durkheim Address the Question: "How is Society Possible?"

Emile Durkheim was a nineteenth century French sociologist who believed that the common practices of society were regulated by outside forces to conform the minds of the individuals to combine to the external collective consciousness. Durkheim believes that "there are ways of acting, thinking, and feeling which poses remarkable property of existing outside the consciousness of the individual," (Durkheim Retrieved on November 27, 2007 at (http://www.faculty.rsu.edu/~felwell/TheoryWeb/readings/DurkheimFactForm.html).These external forces correct the individual's thoughts and actions when that individual breaks societal conventions. This enforcement is a defense reaction whenever a particular society's morals are threatened. These unwritten rules are enforced through social customs. There are no formal punishments for breaking societal conventions. However, the ridicule and osterization from society serves as a substitute for a formal punishment, "although it may be indirect, constraint is no less effective," (Durkheim Retrieved on November 27, 2007 at http://www.faculty.rsu.edu/~felwell/TheoryWeb/readings/DurkheimFactForm.html).

Any individual who goes beyond societal conventions must then engage in a secret battle with the invisible forces of society. These forces do not exist separately from the individual's within society. They spring "from the consciousness of the individuals within the group," (Durkheim Retrieved on November 27, 2007 at http://www.faculty.rsu.edu/~felwell/TheoryWeb/readings/DurkheimFactForm.html).These rules are enforced through the influence of several common institutions. Schools, Churches, and workplaces all influence the individual to adopt these rules into their consciousness. This is a tradition which has lasted through the eras, "We accept them and adopt them because, since they are the work of collectively and one that is centuries old, they are invested with a special authority that our education has taught us to recognize and respect," (Durkheim Retrieved on November 27, 2007 at http://www.faculty.rsu.edu/~felwell/TheoryWeb/readings/DurkheimFactForm.html).

One can examine the power of these forces through their influence over individuals, "A social fact is identable through the power of external coercion which it exerts r is capable of exerting upon individuals," (Durkheim Retrieved on November 27, 2007 at http://www.faculty.rsu.edu/~felwell/TheoryWeb/readings/DurkheimFactForm.html).Durkheim also believed that the political foundation of a society helps hold that society together. He expresses his belief that "a society's political structure is the only way which its various component segments have become accustomed together," (Durkheim Retrieved on November 27, 2007 at http://www.faculty.rsu.edu/~felwell/TheoryWeb/readings/DurkheimFactForm.html).

How Does Marx Answer "How Does Society Change?"

Karl Marx was the nineteenth century social communist who described the conflict between the ruling and the lower classes. Society has always been divided between the have and the have nots. Strict class divisions have ruled over society as early as the Roman era. Europe held a tradition of feudal law for thousands of years which oppressed millions of peasants.

Out of the older feudal systems of Europe, a new middle class was born which Marx called the bourgeoisie. The oppression of the lower classes was greater than ever before under the hands of the bourgeoisie. This conflict between the lower class, or the proletariat, and the dominating middle class is now causing the separation of society, "Society as a whole is splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other: Bourgeoisie and Proletariat," (Marx Retrieved on November 27, 2007 at (http://media.pfeiffer.edu/lridener/courses/COMMAN.HTML).

The new markets of modern capitalism recruited cheap labor from the lower class. Millions of peasants were therefore detached from their traditional, and more meaningful vocations. These people are then disenchanted by their meaningless role and begin to resent the bourgeoisie, "Owing to the extensive use of machinery and division of labor, the work of the proletariats has lost all individual character, and, consequently, all charm for the workmen," (Marx Retrieved on November 27, 2007 at (http://media.pfeiffer.edu/lridener/courses/COMMAN.HTML).Out of this resentment, many proletariat rebel and therefore threaten to change the normal order of society, "the modern bourgeoisie is itself the product of a long course of development, a series of revolutions in the modes of production and exchange," (Marx Retrieved on November 27, 2007 at (http://media.pfeiffer.edu/lridener/courses/COMMAN.HTML).

As the bourgeoisie advanced, the ruling class grew stronger and stronger. As the demand for cheap labor increases, the ruling class recruits more and more individuals, "the bourgeoisie has subjected the country to the rule of the towns. It has created enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban population as compared with the rural," (Marx Retrieved on November 27, 2007 at (http://media.pfeiffer.edu/lridener/courses/COMMAN.HTML).This changed the face of society forever, for now most people are urban dwellers rather than rural peasants.

How Does Weber Address "What Makes Capitalism Possible?"

Ben Franklin believed that hard work and a strong work ethic make up the spirit of capitalism. Franklin also believed that virtues must be useful in everyday activities as well as underlying characteristics. Capitalism demands that men give up many pleasures in order to make the money needed to succeed in a modern capitalistic world, "Man is dominated by the making of money, by acquisition as the ultimate purpose of his life," (Weber Retrieved on November 27 at (http://media.pfeiffer.edu/lridener/courses/PECAP.HTML).

If Benjamin Franklin was right about his ideas of virtue being connected to rewards of labor, many including Max Weber, can say that the reward of earning money is in some ways a reward for utilizing certain virtues, "earning money within the modern economical order is, so long as it is done legally, the result and the expression of virtue and proficiency in calling," (Weber Retrieved on November 27 at (http://media.pfeiffer.edu/lridener/courses/PECAP.HTML).This is a very religiously influenced look at why capitalism has found such success in the United States and elsewhere. Weber believes that this desire to utilize one's virtue is one's calling and what makes capitalism so popular. He believes that duty in calling is what is "most characteristic of the social ethic of capitalist structure, and is in a sense the fundamental basis for it," (Weber Retrieved on November 27 at (http://media.pfeiffer.edu/lridener/courses/PECAP.HTML).

Weber explores the idea that capitalism developed through the generations, not by selection of the fittest, but rather though adoption into a group's collective consciousness. To reach the level of success it has reached, this institution must have been bred in the common practices of social acceptance based on the idea that success is a reward based on the use of particular virtues, "as a way of life common to whole groups of men," (Weber Retrieved on November 27 at (http://media.pfeiffer.edu/lridener/courses/PECAP.HTML).Modern companies and employers use the traditional origins of capitalism to keep their employees happily working hard. Encouraging a good work ethic through ensuring rewards for good performance keeps the institution of Capitalism from slipping out of practice.

4. How Does Georg Simmel Address "What is the Nature of Urban Life?"

Georg Simmel was an urban dweller himself. He was born in Berlin in 1858, one of the largest cities in Germany. Simmel believes that there is a constant conflict between the mind of the individual and the social institutions which set out to influence that individual's opinions and actions. He believed that many people in urban areas were bombarded with new and more intense stimuli, "the psychological basis of the metropolitan individuality consists of the intensification of nervous stimulation which results from the swift and uninterrupting changed of outer and inner stimuli," (Simmel Retrieved November 28 at (http://condor.depaul.edu/~dweinsle/intro/simmel_M&ML.htm).

The "rapid crowding of changing images," (Simmel Retrieved November 28 at (http://condor.depaul.edu/~dweinsle/intro/simmel_M&ML.htm) characterizes the intense stimuli found in city life. Due to his constant bombardment of stimuli, the urban man becomes resilient to the stress associated with being over-run by that stimuli, he "develops an organ protecting him against the threatening currents and discrepancies of his external environment which would uproot him," (Simmel Retrieved November 28 at (http://condor.depaul.edu/~dweinsle/intro/simmel_M&ML.htm).Constant interaction with stimuli also lessons one's reaction to stimuli, creating a "blase" attitude found in urban dwellers.

Urban areas are the center of capitalism and the financial rewards which come with it. Therefore, urban areas seem to place a heightened importance on money.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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