Weber Durkheim Marx Term Paper

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Division of Labor

The division of labor as a concept developed by Durkheim refers to specialization in terms of work (Dunman). According to the philosopher, the growth of industry and technology, along with the increase of the population necessitates specialization if society is to survive. According to L. Joe Dunman, this is increasingly evident in modern society, as human beings increasingly enter into specialized professions. According to Durkheim, the increased specialization is favorable for the survival of humanity, but can also have detrimental effects in how human beings interact with each other.

Increased specialization would for example mean increased separation between individuals. Each specialized area of work for example entails a specialized et of interests and norms that are not necessarily either compatible or even comprehensible to the other specialized areas of work. Hence those within the same sector of labor and society tend to group together, forming subcultures in terms of both work and relaxation. This results in human beings no longer functioning as a unified whole, but rather as a number of different entities or groups that sustain themselves in favor of the others.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Term Paper on Weber Durkheim Marx Assignment

Nevertheless, Durkheim does not see this as an entirely negative phenomenon. Instead, the philosopher views the division of labor as a unification process between individuals within the same social paradigm. The philosopher defines this type of social order as organic solidarity (Dunman). This solidarity refers to the division of labor that leads not to the total separation of social sectors, but also to the interdependence of these different sectors. Each sector is dependent upon the others for its survival as well as for the survival of the individuals that form its components. In this model of society, all sectors need the others for the fulfillment of its various needs: carpenters provide shelter, farmers food, and garbage removers a clean and hygienic environment. Hence individuals join a specifically chosen sector of labor and fulfills a function that contributes to the collective survival of society. The division of labor is therefore necessary for the survival of society as a whole. While Durkheim therefore recognizes the division of labor as ensuring the survival of society as a whole by means of modern social and labor tools, he also recognizes that perfect harmony in such a society is not necessarily possible or even very likely. The division of labor is however an essential component of modern society and its survival.

Religion according to Marx, Weber and Durkheim

All three theorists have very strong views regarding religion and the way in which it functions in the collective social consciousness. The main function of religion, according to Marx, Weber and Durkheim, is to provide stability and a sense of purpose to society and whatever circumstances individuals find themselves in. All three also appear to agree on the point that religion is created in the image of humanity rather than the other way around; religion invariably appears to arise from a need experienced by humanity as a collective social entity. According to Jeramy Townsley, the three theorists were required to separate themselves entirely from emotional involvement in religion in order to investigate the phenomenon with full objectivity. In this all three provide a unique perspective that also connects with the other two to create a type of "microcosm" that reflects the social interdependence discussed above. Specifically, each individual theorist applies his own theories and beliefs regarding society in order to explicate the phenomenon of religion and its meaning for society. According to Townsley, this does not diminish the importance of religion to the individual or to the bodies of believers adhering to them. The aim is not to negate religion or its necessity for believers, although many a preacher has held this opinion. Instead, theorists merely provide an objectivist view of the history of religion as it manifests itself in both historical and modern humanity.

Probably the most often-quoted and well-known statement regarding religion by Marx is that it is the "opium of the people." Townsley warns that discussing this statement apart from any of the other statements leading to it is to decontextualize it unrecognizably and to misquote Marx. Indeed, the basis of this statement lies in Marx's clarification of religion and its context within society. Marx holds that religion is produced by society, as mentioned above. As such, religion serves as a reflection, or "inverted world consciousness." Religion is then seen as a sort of model of reality, which becomes a reality to replace the one currently experienced on the earth. In other words, the real world is no longer the primary reality, and hence becomes the reflection of the religious world, instead of the other way around. This, according to Marx, produces a type of self-deception, or a fundamental denial of the social structures and problems experienced on earth. His criticism of the phenomenon is based upon the fact that an adherence to the fantastic future world after death is used to deny the struggle for a better world on earth. Indeed, religion has often been used by those in power to keep the powerless happy within their circumstances. Hence the "opium of the people" statement.

Marx holds that a healthier use for religion would be as a study of humanity rather than of the esoteric reflection of the world in its reverse capacity as replacement reality. Being created by humanity as its own reflection, Marx believes that the purpose of religion can be much better served as a study of the needs and deeper nature of the society from which it emerges. Thus, the study of the gods and myths within a specific religion as it manifests itself at any time in human history is also a study of the workings of the society in question. In this, Marx takes a sociological rather than a spiritual view of religion. It is notable that the theorist does not deride religion as useless; instead he takes an unconventional view of how it can be applied in the study of humanity. Hence, the "opium" statement, when viewed within its context is a derision towards its application by the corrupt and the powerful rather than a generally negative view of religion itself. Rather, Marx calls attention to the fact that the escapism offered by religion is often used to further the agenda of the rich and powerful.

Durkheim basis his view of religion on the same grounds as Marx in that it is rather a symbolic reflection of society than a separate supernatural reality. However, while Marx places a large amount of emphasis on socio-economic factors and how these interact with religion, Durkheim uses a more purely sociological perspective to study the phenomenon. Durkheim also makes a much more thorough historical study of the phenomenon than does Marx, as the latter is primarily concerned with proposing solutions for the ills of society. Durkheim's focus is rather upon the direct relationship between the nature of society and how this is reflected in the religion of the relevant time frame within history.

In terms of deity, Marx views the concept of god as an idealization of what humanity would like to be. Durkheim in turn views god as a collective manifestation of society as it is. In essence, Durkheim takes a more benign view of society and its manifestations within society; according to the theorist, the phenomenon has the positive function of stabilizing a society that has a tendency to change rapidly, especially with the development of industry, economy and technology. Of the three theorists, Weber is the most esoteric in his views of the basis for and uses of religion within society.

Weber on the other hand more closely follows Marx in his view that material interests rather than ideas drive history and therefore also the development of religion. Like Durkheim, however, his study of religion is also very focused and extensive. In this extensive study, Weber finds that religious beliefs and materialistic social forces collaborate for the development of the latter. Specifically, the theorist hypothesizes that the religious beliefs of Calvinists contributed to the driving force that provided for the growth and flourishing of capitalism in society. Indeed, the developing technologies of the time combined with these forces, according to Weber, in order to drive capitalism towards the rest of Europe and eventually to the Americas (Townsley).

In contrast to Marx, and not unlike Durkheim, Weber sees religion as interacting with social forces in a beneficial way, to help people pursue their interests and reach their goals within society. Weber takes a step beyond Durkheim's thesis, and suggests that religion, its leaders, as well as social leaders collaborate to provide the tools not only for social stability, but also for social change. In order to explicate this concomitance of functions, Weber investigates the various roles ascribed to religious leaders during the different stages of human history, from magicians during ancient times, to prophets, to the priests and ministers of the faith today. These persons were then used as models for… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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Weber Durkheim Marx.  (2007, December 18).  Retrieved April 7, 2020, from

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"Weber Durkheim Marx."  December 18, 2007.  Accessed April 7, 2020.