In an attempt to explain various issues in the society, different scholars have come up with different theories. Depending on the view points of these theorists, some of the theories have some things in common while others differ to some extent. In this essay, I will be analyzing how Durkheim’s theory differs from Weber’s theory as far as the society is concerned. The two theorists took different approaches in defining the society. Durkheim took a positivism approach while Weber took an ant positivist approach, (Weber & Runciman, 100-05). Notably, Durkheim extended the positivist approach by taking the realism approach. Therefore, as stated above in this essay I will be showing how realism differs from rationalism.
According to Durkheim, the society should be analyzed as a whole rather than being limited to the study of the actions of individuals. He took a realism approach in explaining the social realities outside individuals in an attempt to demonstrate that these realisms. The main aim of Durkheim was to demonstrate how the society could maintain its truthfulness and consistency in the contemporary times when some phenomena cannot be assumed, (Durkheim, pp 134-140). Besides, Durkheim employed the term sui generis to illustrate his theory of the existence of the society. According to him, this is a Latin term which means “its own kind”. What he had in mind is that it is only possible to explain social facts by using other social facts.
On the other hand, Weber argued that it is the activities of individuals that define the society. This is to say that in attempt to explain societal phenomena, one should focus on the behavior of individuals because it is this behavior that defines social actions. Unlike Durkheim who analyzed the society from a realism point of view, Weber took a rationalism approach in his work of defining the society, (Weber, pp 23-28). This was the reasons behind his explanation of the emergency of the spirit of capitalism. From this basis, he came up with the explanation on how Protestants led to the introduction of capitalism in the society. Finally, Weber disagreed with Durkheim on his principle of Sui generis in the sense that, he was of the view that the society cannot be seen as being of “its own kind”.
Emile Durkheim. The Division of Labor in society. Glencoe, IL: Free Press. 1947.
Max Weber. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (Scribner). California: University of California. 1958
Weber, M & Runcinman, G. W. Max Weber. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1978.