Cultural Theory: Karl Marx and the Sociologists of Culture

Karl Marx is a philosopher who believed in the need to change the modern economic and social life for a more promising future. Marx theorized that communism would serve the world to the level of best-eliminating superiority, dictatorship and unnecessary competition for survival. Communism brings an aspect of belonging where all individuals are equals. On the contrary, capitalism causes division of the society into classes where capitalist serve as masters and the workers as objects (Marx 42). Capitalism corrupts genuine relationships among people by giving wealth priority; this has caused numerous problems in the society.

Marx argues that the main aim of production for all periods in history is rational and saves individuals from repetition. Production is impossible without its determinants such as labor, instruments of production and capital (Marx 2). Capital is the most essential because it makes it possible to acquire other necessities of production; therefore, capital links to nature. For production to be at its ultimate best elements such as location, climate, soil fertility, and natural conditions should be suitable. Therefore, for maximum gains production elements should be present to a higher degree. After production, distribution divides products per social laws and finally is consumed by an individual with the power to afford it. The nature of creation is the beginning of a capitalist society that only treasures material above everything else.

The political economy characterized by ownership of land, capital and labor reduce the value of workers who in the real sense, need to salutations for their tireless work in production (Marx 37). The political economy law does not state division of capital and land and labor and capital, forcing individuals into a competitive world to meet their needs. Alienation of workers from their job devalues their efforts but only credits and profits the capitalist. Specialization and division of labor betray the right work individuals place in production, which would not be the case with communism. Division of labor also triggers private ownership of property, sets a margin between the rich and the poor and encourages superiority (Marx 44).

 Also, capitalist society is insecure since workers are likely to lose their jobs due to mechanization or productivity issues. The capitalists will always earn more and grow wealthy while workers earn less and stagnate in poverty (Marx 39). Marx considers capitalists as thieves of their workers’ talent because they pay them less and sell the products at a higher price. Capitalism is also associated with the endless crisis in the economic system, which would be unheard of in a communist society. Religion is an illusion that favors capitalists and reduces the income of workers who turn to religion, searching for hope. Capitalism has robbed workers the freedom to enjoy leisure activities (Marx 40). The modern concept turns workers into animals who cannot afford the time to engage in human functions such as drinking, eating and procreating while the capitalist has such opportunities.

In Emile Durkheim theory, division of labor enhances solidarity in modern society as individuals work collectively towards a common goal. Division of labor involves the performance of a task in which one bears interest and cooperation with others in a systematic order to achieve an objective (Durkheim 251). The urban industrialization exposes the society to diverse social and economic cultures and forces the community to be competitive for the available scarce resources. The modern society creates interdependence across social and economic activities promoting organic solidarity; this idea contrast Marx theory since he argues that division creates a gap between the rich and poor and encourages slavery. Through the division of labor, individuals unite in accomplishing a task regardless of its simplicity or complexity when their duties and role is mutually agreed (Durkheim 256).  Durkheim also highlights that modern society creates equilibrium in the distribution of resources which contrast to Marx perspective that the latter fuels inequality in the nation.

Max Weber theorizes modern capitalism as a result of religion. Weber believed that capitalism is not entirely driven by the desire to gain, but instead, the desire for wealth exists naturally without capitalistic cravings (Weber 11).  Weber argued that a rationalized society implies that the labor is disciplined, and the investment of capital is legalized (Weber 12). Individuals should spend most of their time to hard work and utilize money in the best way to make a profit because this is the spirit of a protestant ethic. He encourages society to be competitive and pursue economic objectives not inspired by greed but instead with an ambition to maximize the outcome from available resources. This idea contradicts to Marx’s because he believed individuals deserved leisure and freedom to engage in any activity they desire by living in a non-competitive society. Weber argues that the spirit of capitalism was linked to Christianity and began as a calling for an individual to have faith, energy and unleash the best he/she can achieve. Acquisition of wealth can only be evil if used for luxury and self-indulgence (Weber 11).

In conclusion, the theories developed by Emile Durkheim and Max Weber are in contradiction to Marx theory; therefore, it would be hard for them to have standard agreements. However, some crisis fueled by capitalism such as suicide and self-indulgence would provoke a similar argument by these philosophers.  

Works Cited

Durkheim, Emile. The Division of Labor in Society. Simon & Schuster, 2014.

Marx, Karl. Early Writings. ePenguin, 2005.

Marx, Karl. “Grundrisse 01.” Marxists Internet Archive, Sept. 1857,

Weber, Max. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Routledge, 2001.

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