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The Modern World of Autonomy Vs Heteronomy Essay

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In the world today, information societies, all referred to as digital or postindustrial societies, are among the latest developments and are mainly founded on the generation of services and information. Information societies are powered by digital technology, and high-tech organizations like Microsoft, RIM, and Apple are its version of steel and railroad production companies. Given that the information societies’ economy is steered by knowledge, great power lies among those in control of the production, storage, and distribution of information (Steiner and Stewart, 527). Social classes are subdivided by peoples’ access to an education, because without any communication and technical skills, individuals part of an information society do not have any means to succeed.

Theoretical perspectives on modern society

Whereas several sociologists have conducted various research on social and society interactions, Max Weber and Karl Max established different theoretical strategies to assist us in understanding the development and growth of the new capitalist society. Via culture, members of the same society get to share similar values and norms. With regard to the modern society, Weber’s and Marx’s analytical concentrate on another sociological theory; Social structure (Lumen Learning; Little).

Social structures are simply general social behavior patterns and organization which carry on through time. The analysis of Marx concentrates on capitalism’s financial structures (class, crisis, competition, and private property among others), and Weber’s analysis concentrates on the modern organizations’ rationalized structures. Whereas the modern structure aspect that Weber and Marx stress differ, their common strategy is to emphasize the effect that social structure has on culture as well as ways of living instead of the other way round.

Karl Marx and Critical Sociology

According to Marx, the development of the modern society is tied to capitalism’s rise as a universal financial system. During the mid-1800s, when industrialization was growing, Marx noticed that labor settings became increasingly exploitative. The huge steel producers were especially cruel, and their companies became popularly known as “satanic mills.”

According to Marx, the fundamental society structure as well as historical change forces were both predicted by the connection between “superstructure and base” of the societies. As per this model, the financial structure of the society is the base upon which culture together with other social organizations rest, creating the superstructure. According to Marx, the base determines how a society’s law, culture, political system, family form, and conflicts will be.

Figure 1. For Marx, each of the elements of the structure of a society depend on the society’s economic/financial structure (adopted from, Little)

According to Marx, financial conflict is the main means of change in a society. The base of all kinds of societies in history (their economic production mode) had their own characteristic type of financial challenges. This was simply because a production mode is basically composed of two things:…

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…to Weber, the end of rationalization, industrialization, and others alike, lead to what he called the iron cage, whereby someone gets trapped by bureaucracy and institutions. This results in some sort of “disenchantment” of the globe; the phrase that he used in describing humanity’s final condition (Gerth and Mills, 77-128). In rationalized, modern societies, there are supermarkets in place of family-owned shops. There are chain restaurants in place of local cafeterias. Superstores offering a variety of products have taken the place of independent businesses, which focused on a single product line, like groceries, clothing, hardware, or automotive repair. Shopping malls have fitness centersm restaurants, and even retail stores. This sort of change might be rational, but not globally desired.


The responses given by both Weber and Marx to capitalism were similar; a mixture of admiration and repulsion. For Marx, capitalism destroyed the unproductivity of the traditional society and challenged what he called ‘idiocy’ of peasant and village life. It propelled humanity along the path of modernization, though at a massive cost with regard to collective and individual suffering. An aspect of such suffering include dehumanization and alienation. For Weber, capitalism ruined securities of belief and interfered with the natural paces of pre-modern production means as well as consumption in the customary household. Rationalization ruined the control of enchanted powers, but it brought about machine-like control of bureaucracy that eventually challenges all belief systems. The ironic…

Sample Source(s) Used

Works cited

Gerth, H. H., and C. Wright Mills. "Politics as a Vocation." From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology (1946): 77-128.

Little, William. “Chapter 4. Society and Modern Life.” Introduction to Sociology – 2nd Canadian Edition. (n.d.). Web.

Lumen Learning. “Theoretical Perspectives on Society.” Society and Social Interaction. (n.d.). Web.

Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. "The Communist Manifesto." Selected Works bu Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. Neu York: International Publishers 1363 (1848). 108-127.

Marx, Karl. "Economic and philosophical manuscripts." Early writings 333 (1844) 75–112.

Marx, Karl. Grundrisse: Foundations of the critique of political economy. Penguin UK, 2005. 82-111.

Steiner, Pierre, and John Stewart. "From autonomy to heteronomy (and back): The enaction of social life." Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 8.4 (2009): 527.

Weber, Max. The protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism. New Introduction and Translation by Stephen Kalberg. ROXBURY PUBLISHING COMPANY, 2001. 13-37

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