The Founders of Social Theory Alistair Tuach Founders of Social Theory Karl Marx (1818-1883) Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) Max Weber (1864-1920) Karl Marx 1818-1883, German scholar Marx stated that the engine of human history is class conflict. He claimed there is a strong conflict between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The struggle between the classes would end only when the proletariat revolted. The result would be a classless society. Karl Marx After identifying social classes, Marx suggested eventually only two classes would exist Bourgeoisie – owners (factories, land,) Proletariat – work for the bourgeoisie. Class conflict – owners overthrown and classless (communist) society established Marx: capitalist modernity Capitalism leads to; Social conflict, class struggle Alienation from: work Products Human beings Human potential Emile Durkheim Durkheim ;1858-1917 son of French rabbi Society exists because of broad consensus (Functionalist) Suicide study showed social factors influenced suicide. Introduced techniques to study sociology Durkheim: problems in modernity Anomie resulting from: lack of Moral regulation/ order Limitless ambitions Sense of worthlessness Lack of meaning in life Lack of social integration Class conflict Developed Functionalism Emile Durkheim Durkheim’s goal was to recognise sociology as an academic discipline. He studied suicide rates. The key factor in suicide is social integration. Those with weaker ties are most likely to commit suicide. Max Weber Max Weber 1864-1920 People act on the basis of their own understanding of a situation This was a departure from tradition, emotion, and superstition. Science – not luck or fate. Max Weber Unlike Marx, Weber did not believe economics was the force of social change. Religion was the key. The Protestant ethic - the belief that working hard would please God. Weber argued that Protestant beliefs led to the growth of Capitalism. Religion was the central factor in the rise of Capitalism. The Role of Values in Social Research Weber claimed sociology should remain value free - values should not affect research. Sociologists stress replication repeating a study by other researchers to compare results. Social Facts The best interpreter of human action is someone who “has been there.” Social Facts- patterns of behaviour that characterise a social group. Each pattern reflects some condition of society. Theoretical Perspectives in Sociology Sociologists use four main theories: 1) Structural Functionalism 2) Conflict Theory 3) Feminism 4) Social Action Theory (Symbolic Interactionism ) Levels of Analysis: Macro and Micro Functionalists, Conflict and Feminist theorists tend to focus on the macro level - large scale patterns of society. Symbolic Interactionists focus on the micro level - social interaction in small scale patterns. Structural Functionalism The central idea is that society is a whole unit, made up of interrelated parts that work together. Like an organism, if society is to function smoothly, its parts must work together in harmony. When all parts fulfill their functions, society is in a “normal” state. Conflict Theory States that society is composed of groups engaged in fierce competition for scarce resources. People in positions of authority try to enforce conformity, which, in turn, creates resentment and resistance. The result is a constant struggle. Feminism Gender issues and sexual inequality Help to bring female experiences into understanding The nature of societies is Patriarchal (run by men) Action Theory/Symbolic Interactionism Studies how people use symbols to establish meaning, develop views of the world, and communicate. Our behaviours depend on the way we define ourselves and others. Symbolic Interactionists study face to face interactions and relationships.