Marx Vs Durkheim Analysis

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One contrast between Marx and Durkheim is how they think society coerces individuals to conform to its expectations. Marx believes that value and coercion is created through labor-time. For example, on the commodification of workers, he writes, “These laborers, who must sell themselves piecemeal, are a commodity, like every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the market” (Marx, in Calhoun, p. 101). Marx presents workers as victims of capitalism who are coerced to accept their wages due to the competitive nature of a capitalist society. Individuals, as workers, are thus coerced to accept the quantifiable, expected wages for their labor, and thus conform to…show more content…
Marx believes that people in a capitalist society become enraptured by the system of commodities. For example, Marx’s ideas on the commodification of labor show how the individual, as a worker, becomes enraptured by the capitalist system of production, and accepts his role in the system. He writes, “The workers exchange their commodity, labour, for the commodity of the capitalist, for money, and this exchange takes place in a definite ratio”” (Marx, in Calhoun, p. 122). Marx believes that workers become captivated because they fetishize the commodification process to the extent that they view themselves and others through the lenses of commodities. Similar to Marx’s idea that people can be mesmerized by the system of commodities, Durkheim believes that external, coercive powers can captivate people, as people are not aware of their influences. Regarding this hidden, coercive quality of external powers, Durkheim writes, “Hence we are the victims of an illusion which leads us to believe we have ourselves produced what has been imposed upon us externally” (Durkheim, in Calhoun, p. 143). Durkheim believes that coercive, external forces subtly affect individuals without their conscious knowledge, leading individuals to be manipulated by these forces without realizing it. They are trapped in an illusion in which they are…show more content…
Marx compares religion to his ideas on the alienation of a worker resulting from the labor to create a product. In his comparison to alienation, Marx writes, “The more man puts into God, the less he retains in himself. The worker puts his life into the object; but now his life no longer belongs to him but to the object” (Marx, in Calhoun, p. 88). According to Marx, the labor that a worker puts into his work is similar to externality through devotion, as he puts more of himself into the work and views it as separate from himself. Unlike Durkheim, Marx believes that, similar to work, religion takes away from the individual by absorbing his devotion and reducing his ownership of himself. In his comparison to work, Marx implies that religion reduces a person’s entitlement to himself, thus negatively affecting their placement in the social world. Durkheim, in contrast, believes that religion serves as a contributor to a person’s being, aiding in their integration to society and positively affecting an individual’s state of mind in the social world. For example, , Durkheim writes, “In fact, we have seen that if collective life awakens religious thought on reaching a certain degree of intensity, it is because it brings about a state of effervescence which changes the conditions of psychic activity” (Durkheim, in Calhoun, p. 188). In Durkheim’s perspective, religion
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