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Theoretical Ideas in Sociology. Lecture One: Introduction and Looking Back at the Classics. Staff. Convenor: Robert Fine Tutor : Rodrigo Cordero Tutor: Des Hewitt. Marx. !. Weber. Why (re-)read the classics. Surprising Fresh Useful Pleasurable

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Theoretical Ideas in Sociology

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theoretical ideas in sociology

Theoretical Ideas in Sociology

Lecture One: Introduction and Looking Back at the Classics

  • Convenor: Robert Fine
  • Tutor : Rodrigo Cordero
  • Tutor: Des Hewitt
why re read the classics
Why (re-)read the classics
  • Surprising
  • Fresh
  • Useful
  • Pleasurable
  • Understand both the cry for freedom and the force of domination
the communist manifesto 1847 48
The Communist Manifesto (1847/48)
  • “The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionising the instruments of production and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society… Constant revolutionising of production, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones.” (Marx and Engels, CM)
the communist manifesto 1847 481
The Communist Manifesto (1847/48)
  • “All fixed, fast frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air…” (Marx and Engels CM)
communist manifesto
Communist Manifesto
  • In proportion as the bourgeoisie is developed, in the same proportion is the proletariat… a class of labourers who live only so long as they find work and find work only so long as their labour increases capital…. These labourers are a commodity like every other article of commerce. They become an appendage to the machine. (Marx and Engels CM)
communist manifesto 3
Communist Manifesto (3)
  • “What the bourgeoisie produces above all is its own grave diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable.” (Marx and Engels, CM)
communist manifesto1
Communist Manifesto
  • “In place of the old bourgeois society with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.” (Marx and Engels, CM)
weber revolutionary socialism 1918
Weber: Revolutionary Socialism (1918)
  • “The CM prophesies the demise of the capitalist organisation of society … However, it is the dictatorship of the official, not that of the worker, which for the present at any rate is on the advance.” (Weber, Socialism)
weber conventional socialism
Weber: conventional socialism
  • "Mannheim was very depressing...I heard Bebel mention 'our weakness' at least ten times. In addition, I noticed an extreme petit bourgeois manner, many plump innkeeper faces, a lack of imagination ...These men no longer scare anyone"
weber s foreboding
Weber’s foreboding
  • What matters is the trained ability to look at the realities of life with an unsparing gaze, to bear these realities nd be a match for them inwardly… What lies immediately ahead of us is not the flowering of summer but a polar night of icy darkness and harness, no matter which group wins the outward victory now. (Weber, Politics as a Vocation)
marx and weber differences
Marx and Weber: Differences

Marx: focus on the material

Weber: focus on the ideal

marx and weber differences1
Marx and Weber: Differences
  • Marx: critique of alienation
  • Weber: critique of the iron cage of reason
marx and weber common concerns
Marx and Weber: common concerns
  • object of their investigations was same: the “capitalist” organisation of modern economy and society
  • both employed empirical methods rather than metaphysical ways of thinking
  • both explored the fate of human beings in modern capitalist society
  • their concern was in both cases with the whole of humanity
  • both deeply ambivalent about modern society because modern society is itself ambivalent
marx and weber in common
Marx and Weber in common
  • Running deeper than all their differences was a common philosophical pre-occupation with the fate of humanity in the modern world. As Marx put it, ‘To be radical is to grasp things by the root. But for man the root is man himself’ (Marx, Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right).
marx and weber differences2
Marx and Weber: Differences
  • Represent two poles of social science: bourgeois sociology and Marxism
  • One emphasises idea of modernity and focuses on critique of rationalisation
  • Other emphasises idea of capitalism and focuses on critique of alienation
  • But looking back their common concern is what stands out
humanism of social theory
Humanism of Social Theory
  • ‘the primary and absolutely autonomous purpose – the ultimate purpose of all human institutions – is not the institutions themselves but humankind’ (Karl Löwith Weber and Marx, p. 70)