Name Reg number Subject Course code Lecturer

: Tariro Mubvumbi : R117751HU : Sociology of Work : HSA 305 : Dr Gwashu

Question : Compare and contrast the alternative concepts of the division of labor between Karl Marx and Durkheim.

Question: compare and contrast the alternative concepts of the division of labor between Karl Marx and Durkheim.
„Where Marx was pessimistic about the division of labor Durkheim was cautiously optimistic.‟ Karl Marx and Durkheim‟s concepts towards the division of labor contrast due to different reasons. To Marx the specialized division of labor was a form of alienation, divides society whilst Durkheim saw the emergence of quite a number of problems arising due to specialization but unlike Marx was optimistic as he believed that something good will come out of it. Karl Marx‟s concept of the division of labor is a materialist point of view whilst Durkheim‟s is a functionalist perspective towards division of labor. To Durkheim the division of labor in industrial societies is organic solidarity whilst Marx referred it as a capitalist mode of production. Despite these contrasts, Marx and Durkheim were both centrally concerned with the emergence of modern capitalism and in particular with the rise of the modern system of the division of labor. Both Durkheim and Marx present the division of labor as something significant that then brought about the disintegration of the feudal society. For both Marx and Durkheim the move away from the old order to the new cause a process of liberation of the individual from tradition to the emergence of a new kind of consciousness affirming the primacy of personal identity over group identity. Thus, individualization emerged. Moreover, they both assert that what accounts for the division of labor is the increase in social density caused by the disintegration of the old society and the struggle for survival. However, in disagreement with Marx, Durkheim affirms that the division of labor can be the new source of a new type of solidarity better suited to the modern human condition. Similarities between Durkheim and Marx are evident in their views of the actual working of the modern division of labor and its negative effects on the individual. Durkheim differentiates between two abnormal forms of division of labor. For him forced labor is “the fact that the working classes do not really desire the status assigned to them and too often accept it only under constraint and force, not having any means of gaining any other status” the impact of these constraints on the individual is equivalent to that found in Marx‟s account as alienated labor. Another

form analyzed by Durkheim, which complements Marx‟s critic of capitalism, is anomie. This is because they both unveil the negative impacts of the division of labor not only on the working class but also for those involved in the productive process and society in general. For example in capitalist modes of production, the worker is alienated from other people as there is no longer room for face-to-face interaction as before. The relationships between people are more calculative as people want to save their own interests. Thus, one can argue that though Durkheim and Karl Marx theorization of the concept of division of labor contrasted, there are notable similarities between them. Hence, it will be void to outline the differences between the concepts of these two theorists without mentioning how they complement each other. Furthermore, Marx and Durkheim‟s views on the division of labor differ in that: Karl Marx saw the division of labor as divisive while Durkheim believed that the division of labor could aid in the increment of the interdependence of members of society and reinforce social solidarity. According to Watson (1995), division of labor is an alien thing that oppresses the worker and they become alienated from the product of their effort since the produce taken away from them. This according to Marx explains the divisive nature of division of labor as there is the absence of a sense of connectivity between both the workers and their produce. Though Marx saw nothing good about the division off labor between workers, Durkheim to some extent saw it the other way round. This is because for Durkheim the division of labor in industrial societies, which he termed organic solidarity, was to some extent a form of promoting interdependence of members of societies. According to Watson (1995), Durkheim saw organic solidarity as a “harmonious division of labor since people produce more when they have different roles in work that are interdependent. Anomie to Durkheim could be handled by making workers conscious of their role in society. According to a scholar on the website , this could be done by making them feel organically linked and involved with the life of society hence the frustration of doing meaningless work can be eased. Meaninglessness will transform to an awareness of their significance. However, this view differs from how Marx wanted the problem of capitalism to be tackled. To Marx capitalism was a problem and the only way out of this labor force is through revolution through which workers gaining control over the means of production.

For example, Marx was advocating for a revolution against the exploiters of the working class. This shows how Durkheim and Marx differ in their approaches towards the division of labor in the industrial world. Besides the contrasting elements between their approaches to division of labor, both Karl Marx and Durkheim as social theorists looked in the social structure of society by using the conflict and functional theories with an objective to bring change. As a conflict theorist, Karl Marx reveals how complex the societies‟ system is in the industrial world by identifying unequal means of doing things. These ways only benefit a few who are the rulers. Hence, they use their power to take advantage of the worker and make them suffer. Marx also believed that modes of production and the processes of production are owned and controlled by industrialists while .For addressing this increasing inequality; he proposes a theory of classless society. Durkheim also wanted to bring change in society. This comes out in his solution to the problem of anomie whereby he argued that workers would have to be conscious of their role in society. Thus, Durkheim and Karl Marx are similar in the way they theorize the concept of division of labor. Marx and Durkheim agree that the division of labour has become extremely specialized. This is because not only one man can make the product by himself from start to finish but also instead, division of labour is based on the carrying out of interdependent roles. Marx‟s perspective brings out this form of specialization by explain the existence of the bourgeoisie and the proletariats in relation to work. According to Marx, the bourgeoisie own the means of production but are not actively involved in the manufacturing process because they employ the proletariats who then do the work in return for money from them. For Durkheim through the process of differentiation, work is now divided based on merit. There is now the emergence of organic solidarity whereby people carry out different roles that are functional in society for the survival of other living organisms in society. For instance, for footballers to survive or eat, they do not have to go in the fields and work but have to depend on the farmers for food whilst the farmers depend on the footballers for money. This shows a great transition in the way labour was distributed in the traditional society as opposed to that of the industrial society. This shows how Marx and Durkheim are similar in their understanding of the division of labor. However, one can argue that though they both saw the rising specializations in the division of labor, the way they explained those

specializations differed. For Marx inequality and exploitation are characteristic of this form of division of labor. Marx saw the arising inequalities between the bourgeoisie and the proletariats whereby the proletariats are the lower class. This is different from Durkheim‟s view that saw nothing wrong about the organic division of labor. Durkheim saw the carrying out of interdependent roles in the sphere of work as more efficient since it made acceleration of production. Thus, Durkheim and Marx‟s views on division of labor contrast though they have notable similarities towards their interpretation of the new division of labor arising in the industrial world. Durkheim also discusses the conditions that the worker has under capitalism in terms that come very close to Marx‟s description of alienation and exploitation. This is because Durkheim discusses how degrading the nature of the division of labor is on the worker. Durkheim regards organic solidarity as non-functional to some extent because due to this form of division of labor, there is a rise of anomie; which reveals how there might be a partial break in organic solidarity. Anomie to Durkheim arises when there is conflict between the capital and labor. This is due to the increasing separation of the employee and the employer under capitalism. This is similar to Marx who sees the division of labor in industries as leading to alienation. According to Marx, the way labor is divided in capitalist society leads to alienation or a sense of meaninglessness of the worker. The workers in capitalist mode of production are alienated from the products of their work. For instance, in shoe making industries labor is divided among the workers in such a way that there is a when the saw maker finishes his job, he passes on the saw to the person who designs the shoe until the finished shoe goes on to people who tie shoelaces and then finally go to the market. The saw maker is alienated from the product of his own work because by the time the whole shoe is finished, he will not be able to see the product but continue saw making for the rest of his life. Furthermore, to Marx the worker suffers alienation from his own produce because in industries, most workers are paid less to such an extent that they will not be able to but their produce. This shows how both Marx and Durkheim‟s concepts of division of labor complement. However, one can argue that though Durkheim saw the rise of anomie due to division of labor, he does not consider this the normal form of division of labour but one that results when the worker does not have a sufficient vision of the process of production. He asserted in his book „The

Division of Labour In Society‟ that „ ... the division of labour does not produce these consequences because of a necessity of its own nature, but only in exceptional and abnormal circumstances. ... The division of labour presumes that the worker, far from being hemmed in by his task, does not lose sight of his collaborators, which he acts upon them, and reacts to them. He is, then, not a machine who repeats his movements without knowing their meaning, but he knows that they tend, in some way, towards an end that he conceives more or less distinctly.‟ This reveals the contrasting nature of Marx and Durkheim‟s conceptions about division of labor in industry. In summation, both Marx and Durkheim to some extent had complementary views about the division of labor. They were both concerned about the emergence of modern capitalism and in particular with the rise of the modern system of the division of labor among others. Despite these similarities, Marx and Durkheim‟s views or conceptions to some extent contrasted. This is because Marx mainly concentrated on the exploitative nature the division of labour has on the worker whilst Durkheim largely saw organic solidarity as functional in society. Thus though Marx and Durkheim contrast on their views about the present nature in which labor is divided in capitalist societies, they had some complementary views about it.

Emile Durkheim (1938) The Division Of Labor In society Giddens Anthony (1971) Capitalism And Modern Social Theory: an analysis of the writings of Marx and Weber. Braverman (1988) Labour and Monopoly Capital Concept of work: Ancient Medieval And Modern (1992)