Classical sociological theories are the writings that are selected from a number of partly textual interpretation, translation and partly academic consensus (Hermans, 2019). The classical social theory is dated around 140s to around 1920s. Marx, Weber and Durkheim all the three were classical theorists and they were preoccupied with diverse transformation. Their transformation was bought up during the time of urbanization and industrialization of Europe in the year 19th century. They applauded Darwin’s work and produced a vast oeuvre. This assignment will focus on the social theories developed by Marx and Weber. The social theory developed by Marx is known as “Marx Historical Materialism” and the social theory developed by Weber is “Weber’s protestant ethic”.
The classical theory developed by Marx focus on the factors that are responsible for converting natural resources into basic commodities by human labor. However, the classical theory developed by Weber is more focused on the development of norms and principles. It include offices that contain bureaucracies which further enforce these norms and standards in the classical society. This essay will primarily discuss the classical theories in sociology and then steps up to discuss the content of the theories developed by Marx and Weber.
The essay will also discuss he similarities in the classics that actually makes them a classic. The argument of the essay is “the importance of classics and why they’re known as classics”. The essay aims to investigate the classics of Marx and Weber by discussing their importance and significance. The assignment will thus use both the Marx Historical Materialism and Weber’s protestant ethic for the development of argument.
According to Arjomand (2017), sociology is a field of study that is part science and part humanities. A number of sociologists believe that they can work better in their filed if they are informed about the process and theories used by the luminaries. According to Pollack et al., (2018), the classical theories are somewhat neglected in the society and they should be used more frequently. The sociological theories aims to understand the knowledge people own as modernization evolve. The basic aspects of classical theories in sociology are that the contemporary world comes from the transition from the traditional world to the modern world (Herbert, 2017). There are basically three classical theory perspectives that are to be applied in the society.
These perspectives are the symbolic interactionist perspectives, conflict perspective and the functional perspectives. These perspectives are to be applied in the modern society as a means of classics as they are used to represent the changes in the society and provide responses to the increasing economic demands. The classical theories involve the theories of Marx, Weber, Karl Marx Emile Durkheim and Durkheim. The theory developed by Marx is based upon social critique and conflicts (Maisuria, 2016). However the theory developed by Weber is based upon the standards and norms that are necessary to be applied in the society (Van Tilburg et al., 2017).
The theory developed by Durkheim emphasizes on some of the social factors that contribute to the modern world and ultimately the sociological theory developed by Marx is more inclined toward developing social relationships based upon economics, culture and policies. The primary readings of Weber and Marx sociological theories are important example of classics in the sociological theories as they are highly applied in the modern world.
According to Cheng and Chambers (2018), historical materialism is a name used by Marx to represent the methodological approach used by the social character of life. Marx states that every person in the society reproduce themselves by developing certain social tribes, cities, families and classes as they cannot exist in dot-like isolations. The theory of historical materialism is considered as an example of classic because of its ability to describe social relationships between individuals (Sorokin, 2017). Materialism describes the aspects of consciousness in social being, collective and collaborative actions of human beings in the society to establish physical and social reproduction (Sorokin, 2017).
It include the concept of mutually dependent physical and social reproduction that is based upon the development of cooperation and competition in the society as a mode of production. Materialism also describe the concept of dividing antagonistic classes into a minimum level of subsistence. The term historical in the Marx theory represent the tendency of the reproductive and productive forces in the society to develop over the time (Amin, 2018). It suggests that the human beings develop their own history through a number of pre-given social conditions. Finally it stated that societies in today’s world develop contradictions and conflicts that are resolved over time by revolutionary transformation and social implosion.
Ultimately, the theory of historical materialism have provided a means of detailed empirical investigations into the changes that brings up social relations. It is considered as a classic because of its ability to look into the society and defining social relationships through a social structure of capitalism (Amin, 2018). The theory of historical materialism depends upon the deductive proofs of the society without a scheme or recipe. History making within the society is an independent process and it involve a practical sensuous activity. The social relationships are transformed over time due to the developmental effects of the productive forces and the changes bought up by those productive forces. This theory is important to be studied in sociology as it generate the basis of studying human behavior and social interaction in the society.
Max Weber (1864-1920), was a sociologist who was born up in a middle class family in Germany (Weber, 2017). He was surrounded by an early age liberal intellectuals and businessmen throughout his life. His college life was somewhat similar to Marx in which he was involved in an alcohol drinking group and was beaten up several times. His history made him to develop an ambiguous attitude toward the capitalism (Weber, 2017). According to Laiz and Weisz (2018), Max Weber created a number of work in the field of sociology and he wrote a number of comparative histories of the ancient Middle East, India and China. The Protestant ethic by Weber was developed in the year 1905 as an account to his early years of capitalism.
"Max Weber's The Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism" is an analysis of the partnership between the ascetic Protestant ethics and the rise of the new capitalist spirit (Santos, 2018). Weber claims that the superstitions of groups like the Calvinists served a part in the creation of the capitalist mentality. He first examines a linear relationship between being Protestant and engaging in corporation, and declares his intention to explore religion as a possible cause of the current economic situation (Santos, 2018). He argues that the capitalist spirit of capitalism views profit as an end in itself, and that wealth is a virtue. Weber did not argue that Protestantism lead to the capitalistic spirit. In fact he just emphasized on his views that Protestantism is just a contributing factor to the capitalistic spirit.
Moreover, the capitalism has an important role in the development of religious beliefs in the people. The book developed by Weber have 5 chapters in which the first chapter involve “the problem which address the religious affiliation and social stratification”, the second chapter involve the “spirit of capitalism” the third chapter involve the “Luther’s conception of the calling and the task of the investigation” and finally the fourth and fifth chapter involve the “practical ethics of the ascetic branches of Protestantism” (Swedberg, 2018). In his book Weber suggested that capitalism is a result of the evolution of protestant ethic that has influenced a number of people to be involved in the secular world. It is considered as an important classical theory because of its role in the developing enterprises and engaging in the trade. Moreover, it’s involvement in the accumulation of wealth for the investment also contribute to its efficiency as a classic.
It is important to characterize classics in order to develop classical theories. According to Zhao et al., (2017), the classics are characterized in 6 functions. First function of a classic serves to be an example of excellence that can be emulated in the society. Another function of the classic is to develop and provide some sort of developmental tasks in order to make the mind more complex in nature. Third function of the classic is to act as shorthand for the identification of one’s tradition. The classics also helps a person understand the genealogy of fundamental ideas. For example, the lineage from the trunk to the branches of the trees are passed on as fundamental ideas (Zhao et al., 2017). The fifth function of the classic is to be used as a source of hypotheses and finally classics in the field of sociology have a function to bind the profession and provide it a sense of shared history.
It is important to study the classical theory of historical materialism because it not only reflect the empirical data of social behavior but it also contain a number of multiple sided contradictions in the society. These contradictions involve component such as ‘a unity of the diverse’. Working up of the conceptions and observation are more inclined toward the explanation and exposition of the reality. According to Sim and Xu (2017), greater the complexity of the society greater is the generalization of the conceptual abstraction. Understanding of the classical theory of historical materialism is important because it provide insight into the order of things that contain the bourgeois society itself. The main point of the theory is to define the inner-relationship of the bourgeois society that is completely opposite to the historical development of the society. It is considered as an important classic because it justifies the functions of classics and is highly applicable in the society.
The theory of protestant ethic by weber is considered as an important study between the ethics of the ascetic Protestantism and the beginning of the modern capitalism in the society (Sim and Xu 2017). This theory is considered as an important classic because of its active role in studying the human behavior and steps of development through the investigation of spiritual and religious factors. According to Fernihough and Henderson (2017), the Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism (1904–05) include the beliefs of the German sociologist Max Weber who stated that Protestant ethics was an important element in the economic prosperity of Protestant communities in the beginning stages of European capitalism. It may be perceived as a sign of eternal salvation for earthly prosperity.
Weber also considered the antipathy of Calvinism towards the religion of the flesh and its concentration on the moral responsibility to make fruitful use of the God-given assets. It studies the orderliness and systematization of ways of life as economically valuable aspects of ethics. It is highly valuable to apply the theory in practice because it guide a person to gain economic sustainability and growth. Weber argued that capitalism in the society has contributed to rationalization of the human societies that would also include creation of new technologies in the society. It is highly conventional to consider the theory as a classic because it brings up innovation development and modifications in the society.
According to Emerling (2019), both the historical materialism theory by Marx and the Protestant ethic theory by the Weber used a diachronic analysis in the study. They aimed to understand the connections between the modern capitalism and the historical circumstances in the society. At first the researchers compared the path and determination of the two theories however, no significant difference was noticed on the basis of historical context. Weber have developed his theory as a historical sociologist that aims to enhance the cultural values of the American Protestant ethic. It thus accelerated the development of the modern capitalism. However, Sica (2019), have manifested capitalism as compulsory and a socially rooted system in the society that is inescapable for the society.
Although, Marx did not devoted himself to the historical circumstances that have contributed to the development of capitalism but his project was similar to Weber in terms of his steps to understand the process in which the modern capitalism is distinct from the historical capitalism. Marx described the polarization of petty bourgeoisie, bourgeoisie and proletariat as a group of capitalists and workers. Similarly, weber considered capitalism as a system including capitalist and land-rentier. Marx and Weber both contextualizes origin of the capitalism in the modern era while delineating the historical process of the manifestations of the contemporary form. According to the historical materialism theory by Marx economic conditions in the society are manifested individually in culture and society.
However, the theory developed by Weber asserts that economic conditions in the society are individually characterized by the society. Both of the theories integrated the considerations of emotions in their analysis as a characteristic of social behavior. According to Sica, (2019), the theoretical perspectives of Marx are Weber are somewhat similar in terms of their religion and capitalism based concerns. Weber suggests that ideas can create social changes in the society. Therefore religion can be considered as a force of social change. On the other hand Marx believe that ideas bring social change and casual relationships can be reversed.
In conclusion it can be said that the classical theories of sociology have an important role in the society in terms of the behavior analysis and social factors that contribute to economic development in present time in the modern society. The theory developed by Marx is based upon social critique and conflicts and the theory developed by Weber is based upon the standards and norms that are necessary to be applied in the society. These theories are an important example of classics in the sociological theories because they have wide applications in the modern society. Marx in his theory described that every person in the society produce by developing some certain social tribes and classes. The theory of historical materialism is an important example of classical readings because of its ability to describe social relationships between individuals.
The Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism theory developed by Weber is an important analysis of the interaction between the Protestant ethics and the increase of the new capitalist spirit. He claimed that the superstitions of groups like the Calvinists served a part in the creation of the capitalist mentality among the society. It is important to research the classical theory of historical materialism as it not only represents the empirical evidence of social action but also includes a number of multiple sided contradictions in society
The main aim of the theory is to describe the inner-relationship of the capitalist society which is entirely contradictory to the historical development of society. It is considered a significant classic because it explains classics' functions and is highly applicable in society. Weber's theory of protestant ethics is considered an important comparison between the ethics of ascetic Protestantism and the beginning of the society's industrial capitalism. It is considered as an important classic because of its active role in studying the human behavior.
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