According to Karen Cook’s Pacific Sociological Association, (1991), a sociological idea is that idea which prevails only in the world of words, and is not physically shaped, but can sometimes change the way in which we see the world. The idea would usually be applicable to different situations in life. Sociologists such as Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim and Max Weber, through their sociological ideas enable us to understand and interpret traditional, modern and postmodern society.
Given time limitations, I am going to focus on Marx and Durkheim, showing how their sociological ideas impact on society, and how they both use different approaches to look at how society functions.
Marx was interested in the role economic forces played in the functioning of society. Karl Marx lived most of his adult life in England, during this time he saw the growth in factories and industrial production. He was surprised by the inequalities that resulted because of this development, even though more goods were produced than ever before. Marx saw the rise of an economic system whereby, more goods and services where produced to sell to a wide range of consumers, but by so doing, this system divided society into two main classes; the bourgeoisie, who were the factory owners, and the proletariat, who provided the labour force in the factories (Giddens 2001:11).
According to Marx, this economic system which he termed capitalism created an exploitative relationship between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, since the proletariat had little or no control over the distribution of profits and the labour which they provided (Giddens 2001:12). For Marx, capitalism is not only seen to be an unjust and oppressive system of economic production, but also one that exploits, one that limits man from his full capability, separates man from the products of his labour, and creates conflict between man (Slattery 2003:15). Marx argues that, the capitalist system puts the...