Out of Emile Durkheim, Max Weber and Karl Marx, whose perspective seems most relevant to today's social problems?

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All three of these 19th-century social theorists made major contributions to our understanding of how society works. While each person can decide which interpretation resonates best with their own perspective, familiarity with all three schools of thought is necessary.

Durkheim looked at the entirety of society as an organism. He saw stasis as the natural condition, to which all parts wanted to return. Any disruption would later cede to equilibrium.

Weber emphasized the importance of the individual in society. More than impersonal forces having equal weight and pressure, he pointed to the real impact that each person, along with the ideas they develop, can exert. He is responsible for theories that link modern capitalism to the rise of Protestantism and self-interest.

Marx stressed the interplay of social institutions but, unlike Durkheim, he saw conflict as the regular state of affairs. He is the only one of the three whose theories are fundamentally political. The exploitation by owners over workers, and the alienation of their labor through selling it on the open market are the basis of capitalism. As workers will ultimately resist such exploitation, he reasoned, capitalism is ultimately unsustainable and will be overturned by socialist revolution.

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Different sociologists have different opinions on this question, so there is no possibility of finding one right answer.  My own view is that Max Weber's view is the most relevant.  His view is a symbolic interactionist one that says that we base our actions on our perceptions of the meaning of the world.

I think that we do this all the time.  For example, when we decide how we feel about crime, we base that on what we think the cause of crime is.  If we think that crime is caused by inequality, we try to reduce that inequality.  If we think that crime is caused by people making bad choices and having bad values, we support more punitive solutions to crime.

Weber's perspective, then, seems to me to approximate our ways of choosing how to act.

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