Argumentative Essay On Modern Division Of Labor And Modern Capitalism

Published: 2021-07-20 07:10:07
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Category: Sociology, Society, Socialism, Theory, Poverty, Philosophy, Wellness, Capitalism

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There have been various philosophies and ideas about the organization of the society since time immemorial. Various theories have come up in an attempt to define the different social, cultural and economic interactions within the society. Various theories have also been formulated in an attempt to explain this phenomenon to a deeper level. The essay below looks at the arguments presented by two philosophers on these issues. The first on is Emile Durkheim and his argument on the division of labor, and the second one is Karl Marx and his ideas on the modern capitalism. The analysis first looks at the arguments of the two, gives their similarities and then gives their differences. The overall argument is that both philosophers agree that division of labor and capitalism are related. However, Durkheim looks at the interaction from the positive perspective where it brings solidarity and anomic division of labor while Marx looks at it from a negative angle in which it brings about alienation and exploitation.
Emile Durkheim is well known for his functionalism sociological theory (Jones 1). This is the same theory that informs his definition of the division of labor. Durkheim looked at the society as a machine that has different parts. Each part has a specific function which is vital for the good running of the machine. In the social context, this applies in that the society is like a machine in which everyone has a role to play. Everyone’s role is essential for the maintenance of the social order and making sure that everything goes as planned. This shows the need for a kind of mechanical solidarity where people have to work as one.
This is the same idea that he employed in defining division of labor. He observed that there were quite a lot of things that needed to be done in order to ensure the success of the production process. However, there was no one who had the ability to do it all. Different people have different skills and abilities. As such, in the production line, different people can do different things successfully. As such, if these people are pooled together in the production process and each plays his part, then the efforts are coordinated through a management system, the possibility is that the final product would come up (Jones 2).
This gives an overview of division of labor as seen from Durkheim’s point of view. It s about the different, specialized production units brought together soon as to accomplish a given task and come up with the final product. It is a perspective which brings about a kind of solidarity where anomic division of labor is just a way to achieving the final goal.
Karl Marx, a German thinker who was famed more for being a communist advocate rather than a philosopher also looked at the issue of production. However, he looked at it from the point of capitalism (Wolff 1). This argument is centered on a sociological theory associated with Marx, the theory of conflicts. Inn his argument, he had it that the human beings are unlimited. However, the resources available to take care of these needs are very limited. As such, there comes in an aspect of competition where everyone wants to get the best to their side. Due to this scramble for resources a kind of competition arises as people employ any means possible to get the best before the rest. This is how capitalism is born (Wolff 2).
Armed with this argument, Marx argues that capitalism is an economic regime that supports inequality within the society. It creates a gap between the haves and the have-nots, creating a sense of alienation and exploitation. The rich capitalists are those that used any means available to get all the resources and amassed much wealth, they then go ahead and employ the poor – who are deprived because the rich capitalists took all the resources – to work for them and continue increasing their wealth. As such, he argues that capitalism is a system which allows for the exploitation of the poor by the rich.
There are quiet some similarities in the arguments presented by the two philosophers. First of al, it is notable that they both agree to the fact that different people have different abilities. In his functionalism theory and the aspect of division of labor, Durkheim observes that the people need each other. No one can manage all the activities alone, which implies that the input of the others is equally needed. It creates a kind of dependency where the production process depends on the successful completion of each individual’s tasks. Marx also argues along the same line, albeit in a different manner. He argues that in the capitalist system, the holders of the production processes need the workers so that they can help in exploiting the resources and producing more. On the other hand, the workers need the capitalists to give them the employment opportunities so that they can earn a living. As such, it can be seen that both cases agree that all the people in the society need each other. Regardless of the reason that brings them together, the people cannot live without each other, and the production process cannot go on without the collaboration of all.
Price (1) also cites another major similarity or point of overlap between the two. He argues that division of labor is an aspect of capitalism. As such, capitalism is seen as the bigger picture while division of labor is one of the aspects that can be used to propagate it. The argument is that for capitalist activities to go on effectively and at a fast pace, there is the need to pool differentiated talents together and unite them under one guidance. This is what capitalists do best; identifying different talents and pooling them together to accomplish a give task. This is a clear depiction of division of labor. The issue of solidarity comes out quite clearly.
There is also quiet a sharp contrast between the arguments of the two philosophers. This lies in the fact that Durkheim sees division of labor from a positive light while Marx looks at capitalism form a negative perspective. According to Jones (4), Durkheim felt that in order for the production practices to be carried out without overlap of activities or conflicts of interest, division of labor can come in by making sure that everyone along the production process is assigned to a very different task which is independent but which is essential to the completion of the entire process. This is what he terms as the anomic division of labor which brings about solidarity. The people have their different abilities but they have to work together to come to a successful completion of the task at hand. This hastens the production process and makes it even more effective.
On the other hand, Marx looks at capitalism as a form of exploitation of the poor and weak by the strong and wealthy (Wolff 4). It is for this reason that he argues that the division of labor is just an act of capitalists to apply the divide and rule formula so that they can have a greater chance of exploiting the people while taking all the benefits. This leads to an alienation of the poor where they have to rely on the rich so as to get their daily bread. This gives the rich a wider base to exploit them. Based on the above evidence, it ca be argued that the two philosophers looked at the same issue but from very different perspectives; Durkheim looked at it from the point of merits while Marx concentrated ion the demerits.
Woks Cited
Jones, Robert Alum. “The Division of Labor in Society” (1893). In: Durkheim, Emile. An Introduction to Four Major Works. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications, 1986. Web. 11th Nov. 2012,
Price, R.G. “Division of Labor, Assembly Line Thought – The Paradox of Democratic Capitalism.” Rational Revolution, Jan. 29, 2004. Web. 11th Nov. 2012,
Wolff, Jonathan. “Karl Marx.” Stanford University, 2010. Web. 11th Nov. 2012,

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