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Society is an important part of human life and, in an effort to explain the concept of society, different theoretical views have been established over the years. From various viewpoints, Gerhard Lenski, Karl Max, Max Weber and Emile Durkheim all attempted to explain the essence of human societies. As such, a study of their works will help to illustrate how modern society is better than previous societies, and how modern society is declining.
Gerhard Lenski suggests that a society's acquisition of technology contributes to its progressive evolution. In a culture, the speed of transition is directly proportional to the amount of technology in society. His stratification of societies was based on the level of technology. The types of societies by Lenski are hunting and gathering societies, horticultural and pastoral societies, agrarian societies, industrial societies, and postindustrial societies (Elwell, 2013). Technology has made the modern society adaptive to changes to natural and social environments thus making it better. Karl Max, on the other hand, divided the society into capitalists and proletarians where the former exploit the latter for labor. The modern society, in his view, reinforces the domination of capitalism. The production of material goods ends up molding all societal aspects considering the commercial success of capitalist systems due to an inclination to profits. Max Weber perceives the modern society as better than past societies since modern societies are characterized by rationality rather than strict tradition. As such, the most efficient way to accomplish a task is always sought. According to Emile Durkheim, modern societies are based on organic solidarity which is widely based on specialization. Despite perceived limitations, organic solidarity is necessary for the advancement of societies (Pope & Johnson, 1983).
Besides the apparent support for the modern societies, each of the thinkers criticizes the modern society. According to Lenski, despite the potential to solve our problems, technology always creates new problems as is evident in today’s society. Karl Marx insists that capitalism, which is a salient feature of the modern society, has promoted alienation due to the exploitation of the proletarians. The outcome, according to Marx is a socialist revolution. Weber, on the other hand, is of the opinion that the rationalization of the society has led to dehumanization (Weber, 2009). Lastly, Durkheim’s view is that the shift to organic solidarity has resulted in the decline in the level of trust between societal members.
Elwell, F.W. (2013). Lenski’s Evolutionary Theory. Retrieved from http://www.faculty.rsu.edu/users/f/felwell/www/Theorists/Essays/Lenski2.htm
Pope, W., & Johnson, B. D. (1983). Inside organic solidarity. American Sociological Review, 681-692.
Weber, M. (2009). The theory of social and economic organization. Simon and Schuster.
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