Compare And Contrast Functionalism And Marxism

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Great thinkers including Plato and Aristotle opened the doors to studying society; they based their thoughts on creating an “ideal society”. The science of Sociology was later developed in the early 19th century by Auguste Comte, who coined the word “Sociology”. He began to study society, using “critical thinking”. He believed that only by really understanding society could we begin to change it. In this Essay I will compare and contrast two major theoretical perspectives in Sociology. The Functionalist theory by Emile Durkheim and the Marxist theory by Karl Marx (Giddens, 2009, p. 72)
Sociology is the scientific study of social life. It describes and analyses social behaviour. It seeks to discover how human society has come to
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His main focus was on the inequalities that existed between the rich and poor. He believed that capitalism was segregating society into two major classes. He also criticized capitalism for producing alienation. Meaning that ‘unequal relationships of capitalism workers cannot achieve their full autonomy and potential’ (McDonald, 2006, p. 30) While Marx remained a relatively unknown figure in his own lifetime, his ideas and the ideology of Marxism have had a long lasting effect on society to date.
Both Functionalists and Marxists are structural theories, which mean that both Durkheim and Marx believe that people are controlled by institutions in society and that people in society are controlled by external forces. In Durkheim’s case he sees this as a positive thing and in Marx’s case he sees it as a very negative one.
Both Functionalism and Marxism are Macro Theories. Macro sociology analysis society on a larger scale and look at the bigger picture, compared to Micro sociology which refers to a level of analysis on a smaller scale, of social groups or units in a larger social
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Emile Durkheim was a French Sociologist and Karl Marx was a German Philosopher who spent much of his time in England. Both sociologists were interested in the impact the French and Industrial revolution had on society (Giddens, 2009)
As both sociology perspectives also differ greatly and often contradict each other I will use the following questions (Used by O’Donnell) to explain the many differences between Functionalism and Marxism. (McDonald, 2006, p. 19)
How is society constructed?
Durkheim believed that society was made up of different institutions which worked harmoniously with each other to produce constancy and unity. Each institution has a different purpose which carries out a certain role in society. Each Institution also works closely with another and creates a functioning society. These institutions can be categorized into four groups.
i. Economic ii. Political iii. Kinship iv. Cultural and community organizations (McDonald, 2006, p.
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