Are we individuals? According to Emile Durkheim (1858-1917), “society has a strong influence on the individuals who need to adapt themselves to and already determined fixed society” (Frazaneh, 2008, p. 1).Max Weber (1864-1920) on the other hand states that, “the response or reaction of the individual is a determining factor that constantly and consistently shapes and molds society itself” (Frazaneh, 2008, p. 1).
Emile Durkheim was a French sociologist, who is cited by some as the principal architect of modern social science. (Unknown Author, 2002, Para. 1) Durkheim is stating that members of society state what an individual will say and do. In Durkheim’s book, “The Division of Labor,” “he introduced the concept of anomie” (Unknown Author, Para. 2). An anomie is a state or condition of individuals or society characterized by a breakdown or absence of social norms and values. (Online Etymology Dictionary, n.d.) Durkheim argues that the sacred is a necessity for human existence, since humans are social animals and have always, and will always need a deeper meaning and focus to their lives. (Kleinburg, 2007, p. 1) Durkheim stressed that people are the product of their social environment and that behavior cannot be understood fully in terms of individual, biological, and psychological traits. (Kendall, 2010, p. 11) According to Durkheim, anomie is most likely to occur during a period of rapid social change. (Kendall, 2010, p. 12)
Max Weber was a German sociologist and political economist best known for his ideas on bureaucracy and his profound influence on sociological theory. (Mitzman, 2011) Weber demonstrated that the comparative method was essential because the behaviour of institutions in societies could not be understood in isolation. (Mitzman, 2011)
Karl Marx was a German philosopher, political economist, historian, political theorist, sociologist, and communist revolutionary, who played a significant role in the development of modern communism and socialism. “Marx focused strictly on the economic aspect of modernity and how individuals fit in and battled with the capitalistic system” (Kleinburg, 2007). It is from Marx that the sociology of knowledge derived its root proposition-that man’s consciousness is determined by his social being. (Berger & Luckmann, 1967, pp. 5-6)
Does society determine certain aspects of who you are? Sociology teaches us that humans don’t develop in a social vacuum. Other people, cultural practices, historical events, and social institutions shape what we do and say, what we value, and who we become. (Newman & O'Brien, 2010, p. 87) Karl Marx believed that conflict, especially class conflict, is necessary in order to produce social change and a better society. (Kendall, 2010, p. 13) Class conflict is the struggle between capitalist class, bourgeoisie, and the working class, or proletariat. By Marx’s viewpoint, the bourgeoisie controls and exploits the proletariat by paying them less than the value of their...