Marx, Weber, and Durkheim: Their Significance Today

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Existing social issues produce a variety of debates from people of all races, classes, and gender. Often, the work of great thinkers is drawn from as a way of shaping beliefs toward these issues. Sometimes, these debates are centuries old, such as the oppression of labor and the right to religious freedom, and sometimes, they define an era, such as the problem of Y2K and gene cloning. Either way, these thinkers have something to add to the discussion, so that, even in death, they continue to influence the way we live. Karl Marx, Max Weber, and Emile Durkheim are three such great thinkers. The lasting legacy that each left behind offers us today ideas and possibilities for how to think and function in these modern times. Their thoughts prove to us that man (and woman) has not changed so much over time, but that we are very much connected to history, even despite our technological advances. The development of social order is a question of constant controversy as we try and understand the forces that shape the structures we live within. Is it the tension between the oppressors and the oppressed that mold social structure or is it the ideas and values that dictate the type of laws that govern us? Do we subscribe to social solidarity or are we driven by individual pursuit? This paper provides an overview of the work of these three men and how it can be applied to current social topics. Karl Marx, the founder of Marxist thought [though he would argue that he was not a Marxist, in the sense that so many people use(d) the word], lived from 1818 to 1883. Born in Prussia, he pursued, throughout the course of his life, several interests, such as poetry, Greek philosophy, economics, and anthropology. After extensive study, he arrived at his own “philosophical anthropology,” which involved the science of humans in society. He was primarily concerned with human freedom
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