What were Emil Durkheim's main ideas?

Durkheim thought that the "horde," or non-organized group, was the simplest kind of society, and he analyzed existing tribal societies as having developed simple methods of social organization from their recent horde past. Social complexity was an evolutionary process, and in the societies of his day, Durkheim addressed the problems attending their complexity, such as individualism and dissolution of older forms of solidarity. Because modern societies were based on divisions of labor, the best way to solve these problems was through professional and trade organizations. Durkheim believed that religion could be understood as a reverence for those social norms and traditions that shaped human life.

What did Emil Durkheim contribute to the study of suicide?

First of all, Durkheim defined suicide as follows: "[T]he term suicide is applied to all cases of death resulting directly or indirectly from a positive or negative act of the victim himself, which he knows will produce this result." Second, he systematically catalogued suicide rates in modern society and analyzed his data into four main types: egoistic, altruistic, anomic, and fatalistic. Egoistic suicide resulted from insufficient social ties, altruistic from too much involvement in social relationships. Anomic suicide was the result of acute or chronic crises typical of conditions in contemporary life, especially economic deprivation. Fatalistic suicide occurred only in exceptional conditions of difficult life circumstances, such as slavery.

Who was Georg Simmel?

Georg Simmel (1858-1918) was a philosopher and early sociologist. He was born in Berlin and lived most of his life there. Simmel wrote about a wide range of subjects, including ethics, philosophy of history, education, religion, art, and money. His writing style was digressive rather than tightly analytic, as was expected in German philosophy at that time.

Overall, as a Lebensphilosphe, or philosopher of life, Simmel saw life as more than itself—in other words, more than the human biological organism and its processes— because it was productive, particularly in cultural creativity. Perhaps Simmel's most distinctive work was his Philosophy of Money (1900), a subject that few philosophers have directly addressed, then or since. He also wrote about fashion.

What were Georg Simmel's thoughts on fashion and money?

Simmel distinguished between individuals' personal selves and social selves, the latter being necessary for functioning in complex societies. Both fashion and money had symbolic uses in this sense. Simmel believed that fashion was limited to life in cities, because, as he wrote, "it intensifies a multiplicity of social relations, increases the rate of social mobility and permits individuals from lower strata to become conscious of the styles and fashions of upper classes."

His view of money was similar in that he felt it can operate as an impersonal form of exchange, as well as having value. Through money, subordination and domination can be expressed, while at the same time money permits more freedom within society. Simmel was also aware of the disadvantages of the use of money in its ability create special hardships and crises in social identity.

Who was Marie-Luise Enckendorf?

"She" was the pseudonym of Gertrud Kinel, Georg Simmel's wife, under which she published her own philosophical writings. The Simmels maintained a salon for intellectuals but otherwise enjoyed a conservative, bourgeois family life. They had one son.

Who was Max Weber?

Max Weber (1864-1920) held chairs at the universities at Freiburg, Heidelberg, and Munich, although what biographers refer to as a "nervous ailment" curtailed

Max Weber interestingly combined ideas of economics with religion (Art Archive).

Max Weber interestingly combined ideas of economics with religion (Art Archive).

Was Max Weber himself ascetic?

Yes. Weber's father was hedonistic and shallow, his mother cultured, and he found intellectual and moral discipline in the household of his aunt and uncle. When, in the 1880s, he embarked on a study of the East-Elbian agricultural workers, writing 900 pages in one year, it was combined with a lectureship at the University of Berlin and a full-time legal job. His regime was rigid, and he divided his daily schedule into hourly components. In 1893, he married Marianne Schnitger, a cousin on his father's side. The marriage was based on close intellectual companionship, but was never consummated sexually. Only in an affair in his late forties did Weber accomplish that.

his career as an academic. His main project was to understand the dominant features of modern life in its Western development. His most famous work was The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1904).

How did Max Weber connect Protestantism to capitalism?

Weber observed that capitalism required investment, which itself required an excess of money over what was needed for existence. He believed that such saving was a form of asceticism encouraged in Protestant churches that valorized work and devalued enjoyment of the results of work. Weber noted that other religions dominated in societies that were not capitalistic.

Weber called the mental process that made capitalism possible "rationalization," and he analyzed its presence in efficient, rule-based Western government, as well as economics. He thought that liberal political systems could be an advantage to nations—Germany, in particular—in their international struggles. But he also believed that the accompanying scientific world-view, which downplayed custom, led to a "disenchantment of the world."

Weber thought that a possible course of correction to the rationalization of bureaucracies was mass democracy, which would result in charismatic leaders.

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