Economic Sociology: Emile Durkheim’s Division of Labor in Society

(Emile Durkheim)
In Emile Durkheim’s book, The Division of Labor in Society, he describes the differences between a society where people have similar tasks (mechanical solidarity) and a society where people have different, individual tasks (organic solidarity).

He says that in modern times, society is not gelled together by people’s similarities in tasks and beliefs. Rather, social solidarity is kept together by people’s individualism and specialties because it forces them to rely on one another, as citizens of modern society perform a narrow range of tasks.

Economic Sociology: Marx’s Materialist Conception of History

(Karl Marx)
Karl Marx, as you all should know, was a sociologist who often criticized capitalism for what it will do to society in the future. He was able to “foresee” this because he believed that history would follow a predictable course. This belief was based on his materialist conception of history, or historical materialism, a methodological approach that he used to study society, economy, and history.

Economic Sociology: Max Weber and ‘The Protestant Ethic and Capitalism’

(Max Weber)
Max Weber was raised by parents who held polar ideologies about life. His father, a bureaucrat, enjoyed the pleasures of life. His mother, on the other hand, was a devout Calvinist who lived an ascetic life and constantly pursued salvation. Because of the differences in his parent’s personality, Weber was able to experience the two sides of living, even though it affected him psychologically as the tension of having to choose a side played a great deal of stress on his mind.

In his early college career, he followed in his father’s footsteps by joining a fraternity, where he developed socially by going out and drinking large amounts of beer with his frat brothers. However, as he got older, he became more like his mother. In his late 20s, he developed a compulsion for work and lived ascetically.

It was these first-hand experiences (and extensive research in religious studies) that helped him write his most famous work, The Protestant Ethic and Capitalism (affiliate link) in 1904-1905.