Compare and Contrast Marx’s Idea of Class and Durkheim’s Division of Labour?

1628 words 7 pages
Compare and contrast Marx’s idea of class and Durkheim’s division of labour?
The essay will begin by providing a brief introduction into the two perspectives of Functionalism and Marxism, focusing on the theories of the French Sociologist Emile Durkheim and the German philosopher Karl Marx. Then it will give a brief discussion showing the transformation that took place from feudalism to capitalism, providing the reader with an insight into the dramatic change that took place during a time of revolution and revolt. Finally the essay will compare and contrast Marx’s idea of class and class conflict with Durkheim’s theory on the Division of labour.
The Functionalist perspective is more commonly linked to the sociologist Emile Durkheim
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Marx argued that it is the competitive nature that causes class conflict and alienation to occur. Marx claimed that alienation occurs as a result of the exploitation and oppression that the working class receive. It was during the era of capitalism that individuals became separated from private ownership. Boring and repetitive tasks restricted the creativity of the worker and it was this that Marx claimed caused the alienation and separation amongst the workers. Marx referred to alienation as a socially constructed concept that separates individuals from one another. According to Marx alienation only became apparent during capitalism due to the reliance the proletariat had over the bourgeoisie (Jary & Jary: 1991).
Emile Durkheim argued that in a “primitive” society, it is the collective consciousness of the individuals and the shared values amongst them that creates and helps to maintain social order. Unlike Karl Marx, Durkheim did not believe that the division of labour would create alienation amongst the workers. For Durkheim the division of labour amongst society would create a new interdependence and this new interdependence would enable co-operation and harmony amongst the capitalist workers (
Marx’s theory of class is based on two distinct classes; the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. These two classes are differentiated by whether or not they own the means of production. The bourgeoisie (ruling


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