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Compare and contrast the way that Marx and Weber describe life under the division of labor and the capitalist mode of production.

PART II Comparisons

Choose one of the three pairs of theorists below. Explain how their ideas compare with each other. What are the similarities or continuities? What are the differences? Are they compatible? You should demonstrate that you know what each concept is on its own and attempt to draw comparisons as best you can. Your answer should be about 500-600 words but it is most important than you take the time to formulate a thesis and back it up by making clear and concise comparisons in a well-organized manner.

D. Marx and Weber

Compare and contrast the way that Marx and Weber describe life under the division of labor and the capitalist mode of production. Compare how they both see it as a controlling power that subordinates people to its requirements. How similar are they? Are there any differences to how they see this issue? Look especially at how Marx discusses the “general formula for capital” in Capital and how Weber discusses rationalization and the iron cage at the end of The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.

E. Weber and Durkheim

Compare the ways that Weber and Durkheim discuss social stratification. Towards the end of his discussion of “Classes, Status Groups and Parties,” Weber addresses the way the division, grouping and inequality of people on the basis of their economic position in the market affects the social position of status groups, especially when discussing castes and privileges of social ranks. How do markets and individual competition affect the social privileges of status groups? How does this compare with Durkheim’s discussion of caste in the section on the “Forced Division of Labor”? How does caste conflict with the spontaneous distribution of people into occupations?

F. Durkheim and Marx

Both Marx and Durkheim discuss the relation of individual development to the development of the species as a whole through the development of the division of labor. They both agree that the division of labor confers benefits on the species. They may differ on some of the details. Compare and contrast Marx’s and Durkheim’s discussion of the fate of individual and the species as it relates to the division of labor, specialization and the dangers of fragmentation. Look at Marx’s discussion of “Alienated Labor” (and perhaps some parts of the German Ideology) and Durkheim’s discussion in the “Anomic Division of Labor” and his “Conclusion” in The Division of Labor in Society. How do their views on specialization and human development differ?


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