Do not use any outside sources.
Choose one (1) of the three authors below and explain the central argument associated with their major work.You should lay out the concepts and the argument step by step.The guideline is 450-500 words. But I should say that shorter can often be better if you rewrite until you have a clear, concise, and well-structured essay that explains the main points of the argument. Donâ€™t throw everything in there. Stick to what you need to answer the question. Imagine writing something the size of an op-ed column to someone who is unfamiliar with the work.
A. Marxâ€™s concept of value in Capital, Chapter 1.
Marxâ€™s concept of value is often misunderstood. But if you follow his argument as he lays it out from the beginning of his discussion of the dual character of the commodity, it soon becomes clear that what he is saying is pretty strange.What is value? Where does value come from? How does it differ from use value and exchange value? How is value expressed in the fetishism of commodities? How does value preserve and expand itself in the general formula for capital?
B. Weberâ€™s thesis about the emergence of modern capitalism in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism
Weber developed a unique idea about the rise of modern capitalism in Western Europe and North America. Describe the argument Weber makes about the historical process that leads from the â€œtraditional economic ethicâ€â€”as illustrated in his discussion of attempts to introduce payment by piece rate and the transformation of early cottage industriesâ€”to the â€œspirit of capitalism,â€ as illustrated in the writings of Benjamin Franklin.What are the intervening steps?
C. Durkheimâ€™s types of social solidarity in The Division of Labor in Society
Durkheim describes the evolution of human society in the historical movement of the species from multitudes of small scale societies each held together by bonds of mechanical solidarity to larger, more concentrated, and more complex and differentiated societies whose social cohesion was a matter of great debate in the nineteenth century. Durkheim thought this new kind of society required and created a different kind of social solidarity, namely organic solidarity. Explain the trajectory of development from mechanical to organic solidarity, how it came to be, and how each kind of solidarity relates to Durkheimâ€™s concept of the collective consciousness.
PART II Comparison
Chooseone(1)ofthefivecomparisonsbelow(D-H).Howdothetwoauthorsâ€™ideascompare toeach other? What are their similarities? Are there important differences? Are their ideas ultimately compatible? You should demonstrate that you know what each concept is on its own terms and then attempt to draw the comparisons.Your answer should be about 500-600 words. Formulate a thesis about how the ideas are related 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 describe it as a controlling power that subordinates people to its imperatives. How similar are Marx and Weber? Are there any differences to how they see this issue? Look especially at how Marx discusses the â€œgeneral formula for capitalâ€ in Capital and how Weber discusses rationalization and the iron cage at the end of The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.
E. Marx and Weber
Compare and contrast Marxâ€™s discussion of the general formula for capital in Capital with Weberâ€™s discussion of the spirit of capitalism in the Protestant Ethic. Consider that Marx talks about the capitalist as a personification of capital, which is a social process that has a life of its own.The capitalist is only a capitalist so long as they obey the logic of capital. Consider that Weber talks about the spirit of capitalism speaking through the writings of Benjamin Franklin. Capitalists and workers must adapt to the imperatives of this modern economic order in a way that is reminiscent of the â€œlawâ€ of natural selection.
F. Weber and Durkheim
Compare the ways that Weber and Durkheim discuss social stratification. In his discussion of â€œThe Market: Its Impersonality and Ethicâ€ and at the end of his discussion of status groups, Weber discusses how open economic competition undermines the social position of privileged status groups, especially in his discussion of castes and social rank. Conversely, status groups work to obstruct economic relations and are an obstacle to free and open competition among equals. How do markets and individual competition affect the social privileges of status groups? How does Weberâ€™s discussion compare with Durkheimâ€™s discussion of caste in the chapter on the â€œForced Division of Laborâ€? How does caste conflict with the spontaneous distribution of work among people according to their natural talent and inclinations?
G. Weber and Durkheim
Whether talking about the spirit of capitalism as expressed in the writings of Benjamin Franklin, the Puritan work ethic expressed in the writing of Richard Baxter, or the iron cage/steel-hard casing of the modern economic order which forces us to specialize, adapt to it, and obey its imperatives,Weber discusses the division of labor as a moral force dominating the individual in society, imposing upon us a moral duty to choose a speciality / calling / occupation. Durkheim similarly talks about the division of labor as a source of morality in the â€œIntroductionâ€ and â€œConclusionâ€ to The Division of Labor in Society. He even talks of it being a categorical imperative. Compare how each discusses the morality of the division of labor and the necessity to obey its imperatives as a chief demand shaping the conduct of our lives in modern society.Are they talking about the same thing? Do they come to similar or different conclusions about the moral order of the division of labor?
H. Durkheim and Marx
Both Marx and Durkheim discuss the relation of the development of individuals to the development of the species as a whole through the unfolding of the division of labor.They both agree that the division of labor confers on the species benefits of wealth and social cooperation. How are their views on specialization and human development similar and different? How does the division of labor contribute to the fate of individual and the fate of the species? Is specialization necessary, desirable, or both? Are there dangers to too much specialization? Look at Marxâ€™s discussion of species being in â€œAlienated Laborâ€ and the parts of the German Ideology where he talks about the necessity of alienation to the development of the species. Compare it to Durkheimâ€™s discussion in the â€œAnomic Division of Laborâ€ and the â€œIntroductionâ€ and â€œConclusionâ€ of The Division of Labor where he talks about the morality of the division of labor.
PART III Essay
In approximately 600-900 words, write an essay comparing the overall outlook of Marx,Weber and Durkheim on the birth and trajectory of the modern world and what they might be able to teach us about the world today.You can be more creative with this essay, but you should still be sure to have a clear thesis, structure your essay around that thesis, make a limited number of points, and ground your thoughts in the material we covered in class.
Throughout this class we have looked at how three classical social theorists reacted to the events that led to the birth of modernity in Europe, especially how they understood the connections between industrialization, urbanization, and individualization.They each touched on key developments such as the advance of the division of labor; the logic of capitalism; the progression from small, rural, agrarian communities to large, urban, industrial societies; and changes in the moral and legal systems governing society, as well as ideas of equality, justice, and the freedom and autonomy of the individual.
You might wish to address the following questions:
How would you summarize and compare the different ways in which Marx,Weber and Durkheim treated the historical development of capitalist society, the division of labor, and the new kind of society that was developing before their eyes?
How did each judge these historical developments? How did each judge the nature of modern society? How did each judge the prospects for the future of humanity?
How could we use their work to understand similar changes brought about by the globalization of the division of labor today?
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