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Scholars on Sociological Theories Descriptive Essay

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Updated: Apr 20th, 2022


Sociological theories have immensely contributed to the development of the sociology discipline by explaining various sociological processes. These postulates observe various sociological phenomena from varied viewpoints which may either be similar or different. This paper seeks to explore selected scholars and their insights into sociological concepts.


Marxism propagates the idea that societies advance through the struggle of two classes. Ayer (1959, p.13) argued that the rich invariantly, “exploit” the poor. He stratifies the society into bourgeoisie and the proletariats, the bourgeoisie being the governing class as per Marx (Marx, 1956, p. 276)

Emile Durkheim

Proposed scientific approaches of studying sociology are done through empirical analysis. Durkheim sought to establish how the society remains united despite the growing trends of individualism in the modern era (Sprott, 1949, p. 313)

He explored ways in which social order could be pursued in the society; he devised the existence of “social facts” to describe the society. The “social facts” are dependent on the manner human beings behave (Ayer, 1959, p. 69-73). These “social facts,” have the power to influence the behaviour of individuals in the society (Durkheim, Emile, and Mustafa, 2009, p. 313-315).


Marx Webber was a proponent of interpretive methodology of studying sociology; his works largely contrasted the empirical methodologies of studying sociology postulated by Durkheim (David and Kurt, 1967, p. 556-557).

Through his study of capitalism and modernity, Webber covered four themes, they are religion and class, class and inequality, bureaucracy and the significance of “meaning and action.” (Marx, 1956, p. 266-267)


He described the nature of associations together with the structure of social systems; he referred to the society as an affiliation of liberal individuals interacting among themselves (.Simmel, 1978, p.118)

He argued that the responsibility of the sociologist is to study the nature and patterns of individual interactions. He postulated the idea of emergence, a theory inferring that higher levels emanate from the lower levels. (Gordon and Milton, 1988)

Similarities and differences

Marx and Webber

Both theories appreciate the significance of material property and wealth in distinguishing social classes. However, they differ by means of the causes of class inequality. (Smelser, Neil and Richard, 1994)

Marx and Durkheim

Both address sociological issues arising from modernity. Marx lists capitalism as the defining factor of class difference, while Durkheim reasons that the society should endeavour to unite irrespective of the individualism of capitalism (Martindale and Don, 1960, p. 313).

However, they both differ in term of methodology; Webber vouches for a descriptive analysis, while Durkheim is a proponent of the empirical analysis (Marx, 1956, p. 487)

Marx and Simmels

Marx and Engels agree that possession of material wealth defines social class. According to Simmels, large scale social structures isolate themselves from other individuals, then later seek to dominate others. They, however, differ on the causes of these class differences. (Marx, David and Guddat, 1967).

Sociological insights and the Nature of sociology

These theories are uniquely intertwined to effectively form the meaning and nature of sociology as a discipline, for instance, Durkheim‘s idea of applying scientific methodology in studying of sociology is applicable in the interpretation of the empirical results obtained from the reasoning of Mark Webber, who embraced an interpretive methodology of studying sociology.

This reveals the nature of sociology as a science requiring application of scientific principles (Flanagan and Kierian, 2004, p. 313).

Sociology is termed as a purely categorical discipline that explains phenomena as they are observed in the setting but not as they “should” be. It does not concern itself with the normative aspect.

Karl Marxs’ reasoning about class struggles resonates well with the assertion of Simmels about the impact that money has on individuals. While Marx admits that indeed there exists class struggle in the society between the rich and the poor, Simmels props this reasoning by establishing how one class of individuals described by Marx is viewed in the society.

It is evident that Marx’s ideology describes the class difference while Simmel explains the origin of the difference in the society. This explains sociology as a categorical discipline (Giddens and Anthony, 1971, p. 209-217).

Sociology as a discipline is depicted as a “social science” inferring that its focus is the study of man and his relationship with the environment. Marx Webbers’ views on the significance of the church as a social tool echoes the other maxims put forth by the other Durkheim, Simmel and Marx in regards to the sociological process.

Sociological insights and change in the modern society

We need to appreciate the divergent views of scholars in terms of their sociological precepts. Despite their varying views on diverse sociological phenomena, their insights have enabled us to understand the discipline of sociology better and with an open mind.

Marx’s theory on class struggle reveals the disparities in the society in terms of equity. His analysis of the social order reveals a stratified society with the ruling class at the helm, and the poor in the lower cadre (Martindale and Don, 1960, p. 313).

Simmel’s ideas in The Philosophy of Money, explores the impact money and wealth have had on current social life. In his publication, he outlines the way society view individuals in relations to their pecuniary possession and values. The modern society has become individualistic, and several social boundaries that used to exist are eroded since globalisation and self sufficiency take toll on humanity (Goldthorpe, 2004)

Emile Durkheim was concerned with the cohesion in the society irrespective of the individualisation experienced in the modern era. His observations were absolutely true and applicable in the modern life today.

Even as modern societies mutate to adjust to the new and challenging demands, the precepts of Durkheim still remain a pillar of socialization as they seek to explore avenues of cohesion (Bretell and Richard, 1999, p. 211-216)

The acclivity of modernism and capitalism as earlier mentioned provided immense challenges to various sociological phenomena. Through Durkheim, research in the fields of economic sociology and the sociology of religion were advanced. The works of Webber clearly underscore the importance of religion in the society. Increased complexity of the society has led to the fact that the humanity developed a single and universal God.


In a nutshell, all the above mentioned arguments provide a rubric to the nature of sociology. Their varied explanations converge at a focal point of admission that society is indeed stratified into various classes; it is arguable that these sociologists also appreciate the change in social phenomena in the current society, and the pressures that the changes exert on sociology as a discipline.

They appreciate the dynamism in any societal setting but also underscore the importance of effectively handling the changes in the society to deal with the emerging sociological issues.


Ayer, Alfred J 1959, Logical positivism, Free Press, Glencoe.

Brettell, Richard R1999, Modern Art, Capitalism and Representation, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Durkheim, E. & Mustafa, E 2009, Emile Durkheim: Sociologist of Modernity, MA Blackwell Pub, Malden.

Flanagan, Kieran 2004, Seen and Unseen: Visual Culture, Sociology, and Theology, Palgrave Macmillan, Hampshire.

Giddens, Anthony 1971, Capitalism and Modern Social Theory: An Analysis Of the Writings of Marx, Durkheim and Max Webber, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Goldthorpe, John E 1974, An Introduction to Sociology, Cambridge University Press, London.

Gordon, Milton M 1988, The Scope of Sociology, Oxford University Press, New York.

Martindale, Don 1960, The Nature and Types of Sociological Theory, Houghton Mifflin, Boston.

Marx, Karl 1956, Selected Writings in Sociology and Social Philosophy, Watts, London.

Marx, K, Easton D, & Guddat, K.1967. Writings of the Young Marx on Philosophy and Society, Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday

Simmel, Georg 1978, The Philosophy of Money, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London.

Smelser, N J & Richard, S 1994, The Handbook of Economic Sociology, Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Sprott, Walter J H 1949, Sociology, Hutchinson’s University Library, London.

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