Émile Durkheim, Karl Marx, and Max Weber are among the most significant social thinkers in the history of sociology. This paper compares and contrasts Durkheim, Marx, and Weber’s perspectives regarding conflict and social change. Durkheim emphasizes that as society advances, it transitions from mechanical to organic solidarity. Mechanical solidarity refers to the social cohesiveness of a small, undifferentiated society while organic solidarity refers to the social cohesiveness of a society that is differentiated by complex division of labor (Karlsson & Månson).
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Marx views the conflict in society as the primary means of social change. In Marx’s Conflict Theory, he maintains that conflict appears consistently in society leading to social changes in various capacities. Marx credits the social change to conflict between classes (Karlsson & Månson). According to Royce (2015), class conflict underpins Marx’s perspective, whereby he divides society into two classes namely the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Conflicts between the two classes lead to social changes.
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Weber based his analysis of society on the concept of rationalization. Similar to Marx, he postulated that class conflict influences social change. However, he maintained that Marx ignored other factors that are key to social change such as status and power. Weber maintained that a rational society strives for logic and efficiency. Competition between social groups that leverage logic to achieve efficiency leads to social changes (Royce, 2015).
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To sum up, Durkheim, Marx, and Weber have significantly contributed to the body of knowledge regarding conflict and social change. Durkheim maintains social changes are a result of society advancing. Marx holds that society exists characterized by consistent class conflict leading to social changes. Weber elucidates that the rationalization of society to achieve efficiency leads to social change.
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