Soc Exam Short Answer


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This paper answers the following questions: Name and describe some of the most important social forces in the development of Sociological theory; explain Marx’s theory on the structures of a Capitalist Society; Explain Marx’s dialectical method for studying social phenomena; Describe Durkheim’s theory on social facts, especially as it relates to non-material social facts; and what are some of Durkheim’s ideas and theories relating to morality from his sociological work, The Division Labor in Society.

Most Important Social Forces in the Development of Sociological Theory

The development of social theories is something which has developed for a very long period of time. There are a number of social factors which have been driving the development of sociology theory. During the years of the nineteenth century, there were a number of issues which promoted the speed with which the theory developed. For instance, the occurrence of different social factors played a major role (Ritzer, 2007). This included continued chaos and the presence of social or societal disorder. This is something which developed from the continued series of revolutions which had been politically staged. For example, the French Revolution during the years of the late 1700s was something which led to a disturbance to very many theorists hence adopting theories of bringing sanity back into the society. The need for a new order for the society was a culminating point for the sociological theory.

The continued drama in the political scenario became a driving force for the new sociological theory. The need for a better society became the main goal for many theorists hence the sudden development of the sociological theory. Some of these Political Revolutions had been caused by people who needed power and need to bring better models of governance. As well, the other important force which played a major role towards the development of the theory was the continued Industrial Revolution which took place during the eighteenth century in different parts of the universe. The sudden rise of a political and economic system by the name capitalism became a new approach towards the development of the theory (Ritzer, 2007).

At the very time of the rise of the capitalism economy, it counterpart socialism was also on the rise and hence influencing the development of sociological theory. Other factors in play towards the theory included the development of feminism ideologies which saw different viewpoints developing among different individuals. Urbanization all of a sudden began to take shape. This saw more individuals moving from their current habitats to the developed urban centers. This became another force towards the development of the sociological theory (Ritzer, 2007). Religious issues and changes began to take shape hence influencing the theory. The sudden growth of scientific studies is also believed strongly by experts and theorists to have been a contributing factor to the development sociological theories.

Marx’s Theory on the Structures of a Capitalist Society

It is very true that Marx’s theory on the structures of a capitalistic society is very elemental. In his theory, Marx argues that the introduction of capitalism and socialism movements is something which had been geared to set an economy in place and define the societal situations. While the communists and socialists movements had been formed with the sole aim of bring equality and fairness in the society and have equity within the working classes, capitalism was a move of self dependency and search for personal development (Ritzer, 2007). With his theory, Marx argues that communism was aimed to get rid of the developing capitalism in the society.

Capitalism is seen to have been brought by majority of the people, and as a result is sets in place two major struggles of class namely the Bourgeois, which had been adopted to mean ‘lord’, a freeman or a patrician. The other class is the Proletarians, which he used to stands for serfs, or slaves. As he puts, Marx states that a capitalism kind of economy will definitely result in the creation of two human groups within the societal structure (Ritzer, 2007). Marx goes ahead to talk of the major differences existing between the groups. The Bourgeois are a class of individuals usually composed of the very recent capitalists. Such capitalists are the holders of all means used in social production. They are also the bosses of labor, wages and have much power in the society.

On the other hand, the other group of the proletarians in the capitalist structure includes a class of recent wage laborers who lack means of production on their own. Such individuals have reduced into people who do sell their labor strengths so that they can be in a position of surviving in their society. It is from this information and understanding that Marx’s theory has been crafted. Marx goes ahead to describe clearly the major events and happening that took place after capitalism. Capitalism is believed to cause class struggles hence causing many differences in the countries were capitalistic economic dimensions were adopted. Depending on how capitalism has been adopted in a society, different developments will be realized (Ritzer, 2007). Marx as well gives an analysis on how communism was able to find way in the European continent in an attempt to get rid of capitalism. Other structures of capitalism have since then been developed after the studies of Marx. Capitalism is something which has developed and has as well been adopted by very many nations. As well, the proponents of communism did away with capitalism and adopted the latter. However, both forms of economic and political systems have projected the economies significantly hence promoting the lives of the citizens differently.

Marx’s Dialectical Method for Studying Social Phenomena

The study of social phenomena is necessary towards development of fundamental issues and understanding the significant dynamics which can define a particular society. Marx’s dialectical method for the study of social phenomena considers the class in the society. This is done by deterring the phenomenal social perspective. In contrary to the formal logic, Marx’s method stresses on the social reality and dynamism which effectively focuses on the social phenomena. This approach by Marx begins by setting in place the three major principles resting on a dialectical logic. Once that has been done, the next important is to examine the individual phenomenon as a potential social foundation. One of the major advantages with Marx’s approach is that it has the ability of identifying the societal building blocks (Ritzer, 2007). This is a relation which maintains the reproduction of the particular society while at the same time accounting for all the recurrent attempts. As well, the approach requires a supersession approach. Both the supersession and reproduction do require both the objective and the subjective element. The convenience noted with Marx’s approach has made it much applicable studying the social phenomena.

Basically, it should be noted that Marx’s approach, also known as ‘Dialectic Method’ is applicable in the study. This is because it encourages the consideration of the general characteristics which are common for different historical production periods within a society. This makes it possible to identify some of the historical conditions and periods in question. Another important thing with the method is that it has the capability of defining the actual condition of living. It also sets simple concepts such as value, division of labor, money matters among others. The method makes it possible to distinguish some common characteristics towards the construction of the economic system (Ritzer, 2007). However, it should be noted that some newer approaches of studying social phenomena have been founded and established. This has been achieved following the new studies and advancements which have developed over the past few years.

However, although Marx’s approach was developed very many years ago, it still possesses very many elements which have remained applicable. The reason behind this is because the approach accepts a fundamental shift in order to fit comfortable on the social condition being studied. This technique has thus been widely been a favorite for carrying or studying social phenomena. A number of philosophers and sociologists have found the concept very effective, and some schools of thought have implemented new amendments hence coming up with new concepts and approaches (Ritzer, 2007).

Description of Durkheim’s theory on Social Facts

Durkheim was the first sociologist who came with the theory of social facts. His first invention of the social facts is something that was seen a major breakthrough because it promised theorists that it was easy to study major behaviors of different societies. This diversified the study from the individual point of view. Modern scholars of sociology have thus referred to the studies by Durkheim since they presented a new approach to sociology (Ritzer, 2007). Because of this, Durkheim has been viewed by many as the founder of the social facts theory. He farther described the material and non-material concept with the social fact.

Durkheim’s theory on social facts has been noted by experts to effectively relate to non-material social facts. In the field of sociology, social facts will be defined as the major values, norms in culture and major social foundations and structures which are purely external to a given individual. However, Durkheim Emile who was a French sociologist defined sociology as the science within the study of social facts. In terms of its description, Durkheim Emile’s social fact theory is based on two major facts, which are the material and the non-material facts. In his theory, he conclusively identified social facts as wither non-material or purely material. In that connection, material facts are those social issues which are mainly to deal with the major physical structures within the social settings. Such materials do exert great influence on any given person due to the fact that they can be touched and have a greater purpose they serve a given purpose within the society (Ritzer, 2007). On the hand, the sociologist’s non-material facts include the social values, the norms and any other beliefs held conceptually by the society.

With his social fact, Durkheim did argue that they have a purely independent presence and existence which tend to be greater or more objective in an individual’s conscience. Since the universe and life of man is greatly filled with non-material facts, he gives a upper hand on it, and the reason he studied much about suicide. Therefore, unlike the case with physical and material scientific cases, Durkheim refers social facts to be an important phenomenon since it does consists of all ways of human thinking, acting, feeling, thinking, among others. According to the sociologist, the social fact-phenomena are thins which cannot, in any manner, be reduced into psychological or biological scenarios. In short, much of Durkheim’s work did revolve much around the continued study of the social facts. He coined the term ‘social facts’ in describing phenomena having an existence in themselves while being not bound in any way to the actions and decisions of the individuals.

Durkheim’s Ideas and Theories Relating to Morality: The Division of Labor in Society

In his work, Durkheim’s came up with his personal ideas and theories relating to morality from his sociological work. This is something presented with the division labor in the society. In the work, The Division of Labor in Society, Durkheim believes strongly that labor divisions is something which has the capability of increasing the capacity of production in any society while at the same time improving the skills of the workman (Ritzer, 2007). The sociologists believed strongly that the condition of sharing labor will definitely lead to the development of the society. However, he does give his theoretical ideas that labor divisions can have diverse impacts on the moral characters in any given society. In terms of morality, division of labor in the society is something which can effectively create solidarity between more than two people.

Going by moral foundations, there are a number of facts which should be addressed when there is division of labor. This has been explained well with his view on solidarity. Durkheim adopts the example of a married couple in giving this explanation. In that connection, labor division will lead to the sudden loss of material lives within the family scenario. In his theory, Durkheim argues that the presence of authority and power of governance within labor divisions is something which kills the moral foundations in the society. The occurrence of punishment and authority can increase productivity but the moral part of it still remains an illusion. Further in his theoretical work, Durkheim despises a punishing society as this is no longer a source of discipline (Ritzer, 2007). He defines this as an outrage on human morality. Basically, the sociologist strongly believed that division of labor without addressing moral issues was a repression on the society.

Being a great sociologist, Durkheim merges social facts and morality together in the development of a society. He gives his own opinion where he argues that division of labor is something which has the capability of fundamentally forming a basis under which social life is developed. In that case, the sociologist believed strongly that each and every society should be a purely moral society. So as to develop this situation, it is necessary to set mechanisms in place through which men can cohabitate with one another (Ritzer, 2007). This is why the issue of division of labor is very fundamental. Therefore, even all societies characterized by defined organic solidarity, division of labor is something purely moral since cooperation within a society is something which has a purely intrinsic moral value. This morality will grow when the personality of different individuals grows. With division of labor, there is the need of having moral foundations as this will govern the dynamics of the society. This promotes cohesion, and especially when an organic society is encouraged.


Ritzer, G. (2007). Sociological Theory. New York: McGraw Hill.


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