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Sociology of Theory Lecture 3

Course Code
David Young

of 3
Thursday Spetember 15th, 2011
German Sociology
A. Ideas of Hegel
-Philosopher - based on two key concepts
1. Dialectic - way of thinking and view of the world that stresses importance of conflicts
and contradictions
2. Notion of idealism - emphasizes importance of mind and mental products ie. ideas
rather than the material physical world
-2 Key concepts – the Dialectic and Idealism
B) The Ideas of Ludwig Feuerbach (Philosopher disagreed with Hegel’s Idealism)
- He focused on materialism
-which to him address the real, material conditions of human existence
C) Introduction to the work of Karl Marx
1) reaction to Hegel – agreed with Hegels focus on the dialectic
-However Marx did not agree with the approach Hegel took
-Hegel tended to apply the dialectic only to ideas
-Marx thought that the dialectic could apply to material aspects of life
2) Reaction to Feuerbach – Marx accepted/agreed with Feuerbach’s idea of
Materialism but did not agree with the approach he took
-Feuerbach tended to focus on the material aspects of life in a one-sided
-On the other hand, Marx thought that a dialectical orientation to
materialism was needed
3) Dialectical Materialism
-Marx ended up borrowing what he saw as the two most important aspects
from Hegel and Feuerbach
-He borrowed the dialectic from Hegel
-Materialism from Feuerbach
-The dialectical relationships within the material world
-Problems in society stemmed from real, material conditions (which
apparently stemmed from the existence of capitalism)
-He also argued that solutions to these societal problems must be found in
dialectical relationships by considering for example the conflict between
capitalists and workers
-He argued that workers would rise up, there would be a revolution, and
this would result in an end to capitalism. Which would then change society
4) Influence of Political Economy: the study of the relationship between the
political and economic aspects of society
-Adam Smith influenced Marx (he was a political economist)
-Marx agreed with political economists that labour is the source of all
- Marx strongly criticised political economists for their general acceptance
of capitalism
-as well as the failure to see the inherent conflict between capitalists and
-Conservative analysis is offered by the Political Economists – Simply not acceptable to
-As a result – Marx wrote one of his major works title “Capital” subtitled “a critique of
political economy” within the various volumes marx challenged the conservative political
- Advanced his own alternative political economic analysis
5) Early Rejection of Marx (within sociology) – especially within the USA,
sociologists largely ignored Marx because his work had little impact
-this changed in the 1960’s
-useful for understanding social change
-in the 1960’s there was a big focus on social order
2 Main reasons for Rejection:
1) Early sociologists did not like Marx’s ideology
-they were very much influenced by the conservative reaction to the
enlightenment and as a result they have a conservative ideology
-But Marx’s ideology was a radical one
2) Did not like Marx’s interests – early sociologists were concerned with social
disorder which led or stemmed from political revolutions
Marx himself was interested in generating social disorder because he called for a
revolution to overthrow capitalism
D) Introduction to the work of Max Weber
1) Influence of marx
-Weber readily admitted this – there is a debate over how weber was
influenced by marx
1. Weber reacted negatively to Marx (some scholars would argue)
-he disagreed with a lot of Marx’s important points such as Marx’s
conception of social inequality
-Weber argued that we have to look at inequality much more broadly not
just class
2. Other scholars suggest that weber had a positive reaction to Marx
-Its been argued that he tried to build on what marx has started
-its been suggested that webers conceptions of capitalism, class, and other
issues very much build on what marx had said
2) Early acceptance of weber (within the context of the USA) – by the 1930’s
his work was very influential and his ideas were very drawn upon
Why is this the case? there are three main reasons for this
Weber – Ideologically acceptable (he was liberal on some issues and conservative of
others but not radical like Marx, his ideas were more inline with mainstream
-Weber focused on academic analysis
-Had diverse interests
-Marx was much more limited in his area of interest
Karl Marx
-A biographical sketch of Marx
A) Early Years
-Born in 1818 in Prussia
-Father was a lawyer (well educated)
-Marx spent his time with his father and his intellectual friends. As a result
he developed an appreciation for egalitarian views, as a result Marx
developed optimistic views about the nature of humanity and the potential
of civilization to progress.