Intro To Sociology 12:30 TTh Spring 2011

Karl Marx
By: Marty Wendel

Karl Marx was born on May 5, 1818, in Trier, Prussia (present day Germany). He is the son of Heinrich Marx, a lawyer, and Henriette Marx, a Dutchwomen. Karl was baptized in the Lutheran church in 1824 at the age of six. Karl attended a Lutheran elementary school but later became an atheist and a materialist, rejecting both the Christian and Jewish religions. It was he who coined the saying "Religion is the opium of the people," a basic principle in modern communism.

In October 1835 Marx enrolled in Bonn University in Bonn, Germany, where he attended courses primarily in law, as it was his father's desire that he become a lawyer. Marx, however, was more interested in philosophy and literature than in law. He wanted to be a poet and dramatist. Marx's dismayed father took him out of Bonn and had him enter the University of Berlin, then a center of intellectual discussion. In Berlin a circle of brilliant thinkers was challenging existing institutions and ideas, including religion, philosophy, ethics, and politics. Marx joined this group of radical thinkers wholeheartedly. He spent more than four years in Berlin, completing his studies with a doctoral degree in March 1841.

January 1845 Marx was expelled from France "at the instigation of the Prussian government," as he said. He moved to Brussels, Belgium, where he founded the German Workers' Party and was active in the Communist League. Here he wrote the famous Manifesto of the Communist Party (known as the Communist Manifesto). Marx finally settled in London, England, where he lived as a stateless exile (Britain denied him citizenship and Prussia refused to take him back as a citizen) for the rest of his life. In London Marx's sole means of support was journalism. He wrote for both German-and English-language publications.

To Marx, capitalism was the last stage of historical development before communism. The lowest social or economic class of a community, when produced by capitalism, is the last historical class. The two are fated to be in conflict the class struggle, which Marx wrote of in the Communist Manifesto until the lower class inevitably wins. The proletarian dictatorship, in turn, develops into communism, in which there are no classes and no inequalities. The logical suggestion is that with the final establishment of communism, history comes to a sudden end. This Marxist interpretation has been criticized in the noncommunist world as historically inaccurate, scientifically weak, and logically ridiculous. Nevertheless, Marx's message of an earthly paradise has provided millions with hope and a new meaning of life.

In the Marxian framework, class conflict is the struggle between the capitalist class and the working class. The capitalist class, or bourgeoisie, comprises those who own and control the means of production: the tools, land, factories, and money for investment that form the economic basis of a society. The working class, or proletariat, is composed of those who must sell their labor because they have no other means to earn a livelihood. From Marx’s viewpoint, the capitalist class controls and exploits the masses of struggling workers by paying less than the value of their labor. Marx predicted that the working class would become aware of its exploitation, overthrow the capitalists, and establish a free and classless society.

Marx is regarded as one of the most profound sociological thinkers; however, his social and economic analyses have also inspired heated debates among generations of social scientists. Those who believe that sociology should be value free are uncomfortable with Marx’s advocacy of what some perceive to be radical social change.


Karl Marx
By: Michelle Glaze

Karl Marx, is one of the most influential socialist thinkers from the 19th Century. He was born in Trier, Germany on May 5, 1818. At the age of seventeen, Marx enrolled in the Faculty of Law at the University of Bonn. At Bonn he got engaged to Jenny von Westphalen. Due to the complexity of his ideas, most of them were not appreciated and used until after his death in 1833.

Marxism is “the political and economic philosophy of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in which the concept of class struggle plays a central role in understanding society's allegedly inevitable development from bourgeois oppression under capitalism to a socialist and ultimately classless society.” The concepts of the Marx’s economic and socialist ideologies are very complicated and very hard to understand. Marxism is “a theory in which class struggle is a central element in the analysis of social change in Western societies.” In other words the conflicts between the lower, middle, and upper classes is what cause society to change. Marxism is the “antithesis” of capitalism which is “an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production and distribution of goods, characterized by a free competitive market and motivation by profit.” This is, in other words, a free market such as what the United States has today. Marxism is the system of socialism in which the general public, not the government, owns and runs the production/making, distribution, and the profit of all the goods in the country.

Under a capitalist society, the working class or “the people,” do not own or control anything besides their own labor. The only thing they can sell is their own labor. For example, a farmer does not own his/her ground or the crops that grow on that ground. The only thing that they own on the farm is the work they provide. Marx said that history is based on “class struggles, wars, and uprisings.” Whichever class was in control at the time is how history was made and what determined happened in society. Under capitalism workers are paid a bare minimum wage or salary, which is just enough to provide for their families. The worker has no control over the labor or product which he/she produces. The capitalists, usually the government, take and sell the products produced by the workers.

Karl Marx had many ideas and wrote many books over many different subjects. However, his greatest contribution was his works on society and the working class. Here is a famous quote from Marx: “The worker becomes all the poorer the more wealth he produces, the more his production increases in power and range. The worker becomes an ever cheaper commodity the more commodities he creates. With the increasing value of the world of things proceeds in direct proportion to the devaluation of the world of men. Labour produces not only commodities; it produces itself and the worker as a commodity — and does so in the proportion in which it produces commodities generally.”


Emile Durkheim
By Scott Ochs


Emile Durkheim was born on April 15, 1858 in Lorraine, France, the son of Moïse Durkheim, the Chief Rabbi of the Vosges and Haute-Marne, and his wife Mélanie, a merchant's daughter. Since Emile's father, grandfather, and great-grandfather had all been rabbis, it was expected that young Emile would follow suit, so he was sent to a rabbinical school. When he was in his early teens, Durkheim took an interest in Catholicism, but he then strayed away from that religion as well. Realizing that he wanted to study religion with an open mind. Durkheim was a brilliant student, and was awarded several prizes and honors, which had made it easy for him to be accepted at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris. He would do well at this school, until his father became very ill, and he started to get depressed, which would hurt his studies. He would not make it into the school he wanted to until he became twenty one, in 1879. That school was Ecole Normale Supérieure. It was a very prestigious school that held many famous names like socialist Jean Jaurès, psychologist Pierre Janet, philosophers Henri Bergson, Felix Rauh and Maurice Blondel. Emile would soon realize that his own interest in education centered more upon teaching methods, which had long been literary, and which he felt needed to be scientific, and it was this issue which fueled his orations. It was then, that Durkheim found allies in philosophers Emile Boutroux, Charles Renouvier, and historian Numas-Denis Fustel de Coulanges. Though he became ill in 1881, Durkheim passed the difficult examination required for admission to the teaching staff of state secondary schools, and was soon thereafter teaching philosophy. 5 years later, in 1887, Durkheim married Louise Dreyfus, with whom he had a son, André, and later a daughter, Marie. In 1893, Durkheim published his first major work, "De la division du travail social" (The Division of Labor in Society), in which he introduced the concept of "anomie", which described the breakdown of the influence of social norms on individuals within a society, meaning that people were no longer expected to abide by a set of sociological rules, and no longer knew what to expect from one another. Durkheim was discriminated against as a Jew with a German name, but he nonetheless managed to remain patriotic, despite his failing health, and the loss of his son André who had been fighting on the Bulgarian front in 1916. Durkheim was so upset by the loss of his son that he demanded that no one speak his son's name in his presence. The tragedy also motivated Durkheim to become more involved in the war, up until he suffered a stroke during one of his speeches. On November 15th 1917, Emile Durkheim died, at the age of 59.

Retrieved from Dec 13th, 2002.

All Material Copyright © Chris Marvin 1995-2000 retrieved from

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
By: Michael Morris & Andre Barber
On April 4, 1968 , our world would change forever. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. took a historical step to let the people of America realize the severity of racial segregation, which lead to King’s death on the second- floor balcony of a hotel in Memphis . Forty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King concluded in his final speech, “I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight, that we as a people will get to the Promised Land.” According to Michael Eric Dyson, a Georgetown University sociology professor, he believes that black Americans are closer to the Promised Land but not all there yet. There is still a large amount of black Americans who still live in poverty every day. In Dyson’s opinion, he believed that King’s death changed America by giving us language to express our aspirations and alerted white America ’s perception of life.

I believe the death of King changed American society forever. Anyone who has the courage to risk their life and stand up for what they believe in can truly be called a hero. Even since King’s death 40 years ago, his message still influences America today. It has even influenced the presidential election in a positive direction.

The differences between Barrack Obama and Martin Luther King Jr. are significant and yet both will have a lasting impact on the future progress of black Americans. The interviewee in the article correctly points out the fact that Obama gets an audience and media coverage being the first ever African American Presidential candidate while Martin Luther King Jr. started a movement and created significant lasting change as a citizen and pastor. Although the movement is still alive and the progress still recognizes most African Americans, there is still considerable progress that is needed.

There have been significant advances in the past four decades concerning equality; however, the only class that is reaping the benefits of the hard work put forth by our nations’ leaders is the middle class African Americans. There is still a significant amount of poor African Americans that as a whole seem to represent the African American race. You really only hear about the negative aspect of the African American race rather than the positive.

Some people believe that our society is right where it needs to be in terms of reconciliation and justice. Other parts of our society believe that we still have a long journey ahead of us to racial equality. I feel like we have a long way to go concerning reconciliation and justice because of the way certain African Americans are discriminated against concerning jobs, salary, religion, athletics, and academics. Why can’t we all be looked at as the same regardless of the color of our skin? We are all “equal” by law but we still have many bridges to cross as a society.

Everything in our society today is a competition. Life is a battle and no matter what color your skin is or what sex you are you will always fight for justice. I feel that it will take years, if not decades, for racism and justice to be equal. If a man couldn’t do it 40 years ago and we still can’t do it now, then it certainly won’t happen anytime soon. No one in America should be proud of our society, as a whole, right now. Yet, everyone is proud to be an American?

My article was about the correlations between Martin Luther King Jr’s legendary “I have a dream” speech and the 2008 presidential election. People feel that Martin Luther King’s speech still has a presence in today’s society concerning ethics. Even after four decades since his speech, some feel like our society is right where it needs to be concerning reconciliation and justice, and others feel like we have a long way to go. I feel like we have a long way to go concerning reconciliation and justice because of the way certain African Americans are discriminated against concerning jobs, salary, religion, athletics, and academics. The road to racial equality is a long path, and the American society has only just begun. We are all “equal” by law but in the public eye there is still many bridges to be crossed.…/king-bio.html

Howard Saul Becker
By: Cameron Beck

Born April 18, 1928 in Chicago, Illinois.

He is an American sociologist known for his studies of occupations, education, deviance, and art. Becker studied sociology at the University of Chicago and received his Ph.D and then taught for most of his career at Northwestern University from 1965 to 1991. His research applied a definition of culture as “the shared understandings that people use to coordinate their activities” to dance musicians, marijuana users, and students. The book Becker is most known for is Outsiders (1963).

The book viewed deviance as the cultural product of interactions between people whose occupations involved either committing crimes or catching criminals. Howard Becker developed his theory of labeling (also known as social reaction theory) in the 1963 book Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology of Deviance. The theory of labeling is that deviance is not inherent to an act, but instead focuses on the linguistic tendency of majorities to negatively label minorities or those seen as deviant from norms. The theory is concerned with how the self-identity and behavior of individuals may be determined or influenced by the terms used to describe or classify them, and is associated with the concept of a self-fulfilling prophecy and stereotyping. The theory was prominent in the 1960s and 1970s, and some modified versions of the theory have developed. Unwanted descriptors or categorizations (including terms related to deviance, disability or a diagnosis of mental illness) may be rejected on the basis that they are merely "labels", often with attempts to adopt a more constructive language in its place. Labeling theory is also closely related to interactionism and social construction. Becker's theory evolved during a period of social and political power struggle that was amplified within the world of the college campus. Liberal political movements were embraced by many of the college students and faculty in America Howard Becker harnessed this liberal influence and adjusted Lemert's labeling theory and its symbolic interaction theoretical background. The labeling theory outlined in Outsiders is recognized as the prevailing social reaction approach by Lemert as well as most other sociologists It was a major turning point in the sociology of deviance.
Another book Becker wrote is Art Worlds (1982).

The book greatly influenced the sociology of art, Becker examined the cultural context (the “art worlds”) in which artist produce their work. Becker developed his theory of labeling (also known as social reaction theory) in the 1963 book "Outsiders".

Works Cited

-Harriet Martineau wiki.jpg

Harriet Martineau was one of the first was one of the very few females in a male-dominated discipline and society. She was one of the “first woman sociologist”. She studied the social customs of Britain and the Untied States analyzing the consequences of industrialization and capitalism. She also translated and condensed Auguste Comte’s work. Harriet Martineau was born in 1802 and was the sixth of eight children. Her father Thomas Martineau was a manufacturer of textiles and an importer of win in the old cathedral city of Norwich. Her mother Elizabeth was intelligent woman but had little formal education. When she was about 15 she was becoming more. Later in her life she was completely deaf and she claimed to have no sense of smell or taste. Her studies was mainly done at home where she taught herself. When she went and stayed with her aunt and uncle was when she was introduced to the work of Locke. Her uncle was a minister and reinforced her religious views as a devout Unitarian. During the 1820’s her family went into economic decline when her father died. Harriet was able to escape the confines of a middle class marriage after her fiancé John Hugh Worthington had a mental and physical collapse. After this incident she remained single she said that “there is a power of attachment in me that has never been touched.” She was independent and single the rest of her life. Harriet supported herself as an author by writing essays, tracts, reviews, novels, journal articles, travelogues, biographies, how-to manuals, newspaper columns, histories, children stories and sociologically informed non fiction. By 1829 she committed herself to her profession writing. Her first literary efforts were religious due to her devout Unitarianism. Necessariansim provided her with the intellectual to a social scientific perspective. She then wrote a book about social theory she used the principles of new science and political economy. In 1834 she began a two year study. She then posted this study in the Society in America and Retrospect of Western Travel. Society in America is her most widely known work to sociologists in the U.S. After she took a trip to the Mid-East she published her work Eastern Life Past and Present she then embraced atheism. In 1851 Harriet translated Comte’s Cours de philosophie positive into English. During her life she wrote over 1,500 columns. She was forgotten in sociology, literature, history and journalism due to the male academic system. She died after years of illness in 1876 but she had already written her obituary, nearly twenty years before.
by Melissa Sheets

Georg Simmel
Brian Krajewski


Mr.Simmel is one of the first generation German sociologists. He has contributed so much to sociology today and his efforts are helping us today, understand why the society works like this today. Of course it is different today from his lifetime but, there are similarities. Many of the same things happen today like rape, people being homeless, and people being raised up in different societies. I will discuss these different ways he contributed to the society.

First, I will quickly discuss his childhood. He was born in Berlin, Germany on March 1, 1858 where he was born into a wealthy family but, unfortunately his father died in 1874. He left Georg a hefty inheritance after being successful with his chocolate making business. He was adopted by a successful music publisher that allowed him to become a scholar.

He attended the University of Berlin and studied philosophy and history and graduated in 1881 with a doctorate for his thesis on Kant’s philosophy on matter. He then became a professor at the University of Berlin where he taught philosophy. He had a very hard time earning the name as a great philosopher as he was being overshadowed by the greats, such as Max Weber. He also had a hard time being considered as a Jew even though he was a baptized Protestant. As we all know he overcame these struggles and became very well known.

Next, I will discuss some of his greatest achievements. One of his essays was The Metropolis and Mental Life. It discusses several different aspects about society and how it runs. It starts out as discussing how the cities work. The cities work in different ways. Mankind makes the cities run with the decisions and money. He states that the setting of the metropolis creates psychological conditions such as things so simple like crossing the street or the tempo of the economy. I believe this says that every human being gets so caught up in the fast pace of the city life and lets it take them over and they become so called robots. They need to realize what’s going on and stop and live their own lives.

His philosophy on money was also very praised. Simmel saw money as a very important component of the livelihood and help us understand the true meaning of life. He said that people creates objects to create value, then leaving the object and then trying to overcome them leaving that object. People do this everyday in this society. I believe in everything he says in his essays and beliefs. Money is very important, but I wish we didn’t have to rely on it near as much as we do.

There are always critics of everyone’s work including Mr.Simmel. Some of the critics doubt Simmel because of his assumptions about psychological assumptions about social life. There are other reasons why people do not like Simmel’s beliefs. His most microscopic work dealt with forms and the forms are subordination, super ordination, exchange, conflict and sociability.

Simmel continued his work until on his death bed where he unfortunately died in 1918 of liver cancer. He is remembered as one of the great sociologists of his time. He did many things and wrote many essays about important topics in the social economy. Including, the money and economy. I explained many things about his success as a sociologist.

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