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Select one of the following sociologists: Ibn Khaldūn, Auguste Comte, Harriet Martineau, Alex de Tocqueville, Karl Marx, Herbert Spencer, Geort Simmel, Émile Durkheim, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Max Weber, George Herbert Mead, William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, Alfred Schutz, Talcott Parsons, Theodor W. Adorno.
Answer the following question:
Describe the emergence of sociology and its relationship to the industrialisation of European society, and comment on the importance and influence of the dominant early theorists. Provide an outline of your chosen theorist, and briefly discuss their background and influences. Assess the importance of their sociological theory and its ability to appraise society. Compare your life to date, the societal factors that shaped your views and opinions and the perspective you view society, with that of the life experiences of your selected theorist. How does your social lens compare with that of the theorist?
Your discussion should make reference to the sociological theories or perspectives covered in this subject, with attention to the key issues such as class and socioeconomic status, ethnicity and Indigeniety, and gender.
Sociology as a field of study is crucial to the modern world as it establishes the foundation on the basis of which society and its shortcomings can be witnessed and improved upon (Stolley, 2005). Over the years, various sociological thinkers have appeared on the global platform and opined their ideological standpoint and established their own schools of thought as to what society is and how it works in tandem with other aspects of state and society. One such sociologist who has gained worldwide renown owing to his radical ideology is Karl Marx. To say Marx was a sociologist is an understatement, as he has emerged as one of the most recognizable figures of modern history owing to his contribution to political theory, economics and philosophy, thus, firmly establishing him at the confluence of several disciplines of study (Roemer, 2009). However, for the purposes of this study, the focus shall lie on Marx as a sociologist and his contribution to the field of sociology and its emergence in Industrial Europe.
Marx's primary sociological ideology is eponymous and thus, is referred to as Marxism, which is a collection of thoughts from different disciplines itself, notably, socio-economic polity. The Communist Manifesto, a pamphlet which serves as the Holy Grail to the Marxist ideology outlines a core idea in the Marxist point of view, i.e. society is a result of the ensuing class struggles owing to the class differences which are inherent to society (Marx & Engels, 1848). As per Marx, the current capitalist structure thrives on bourgeois exploitation of the working class, i.e. the proletariat and one day the proletariat shall rise in a revolution to overthrow the bourgeois leaders of their time and further progress to establish a new society, one which is based on the tenets of socialism. Essentially, the purported society shall be free of class and shall be based on communist ideologies of shared and supportive labor with no state possession of the means of production. Such a radical ideology was bound to draw attention from both critics and proponents, and it continues to do so, till this very day (Unger, 2007).
However, Marxism as an ideology did not emerge from a singular standpoint, and instead is a product of several different sociological views which influenced Marx during his formative years. The primary idea propounded by Marx regarding a revolution based classless society without inequality in the sociological and economic field stems from Lycurgus' philosophy that men should be treated equally in society and furthermore, land as a means of production should be distributed amongst all individuals equally (Plutarch, 1977). Apart from the sociological ideology drawn from Lycurgus, Marx was heavily influenced by modern philosophers who preceded him and were the contemporaries of their time. Exempli gratia, Georg Hegel, one of the leading modern German philosophers was the basis for the method which led to the development of Marxism. Hegel famously propounded the dialectical method, which was adopted by Marx and further developed into historical materialism (Burns & Fraser, 2000). Marx's historical materialism drew from Hegel's idea that history and reality are two concepts which should be perceived dialectically, however, Marx was not appreciative of the idealism laced point of view adopted by Hegel. Instead, Marx sought to develop the dialectic method by the way of materialism, i.e. by correlating this ideology to the material life (through societal revolution and change) and not just the realm of ideas and thoughts (Stalin, 1940). This move towards a more materialism-based idea of dialecticism was drawn from Ludwig Feuerbach's ideology, which focused on how an individual is a product of his own environment and the entirety of reality available to an individual is a result of the interaction of a man's senses and the external material world (King, 2004). This emphasis on people and their interaction with the tangible world made Marx and Engels consider that dialecticism could be better suited to their ideology if it is substantially corroborated with the past (i.e. history) and current sociological paradigm, thus, giving rise to dialectical materialism (Honneth & Joas, 1988). The culmination of these influences led to the development of Marxism which is now renowned all over the world today. Owing to the radical ideas presented by Marx, the ideology has been a viable contributor to the development of modern sociology and the various features of this ideology across different fronts of sociology are highlighted hereon for the purposes of this study.
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