Marx & Durkheim: Modern & Post-industrial Society Social Pathologies

Alienation vs Anomie

Marx & Durkheim: Modern & Post-industrial Society Social Pathologies

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While both Durkheim and Marx have a strong point in their arguments, I find the argument of anomie less compelling. The primary point of disagreement I have with anomie is the fact that modern society has more norms due to industrialization. Unlike traditional agrarian societies, the industrial society has a larger workforce which consists of its own unique culture as well as rules and norms.

The alienation of individuals, as Marx describes, is echoed by Weber in his thoughts concerning the evolution of bureaucracy. Webber describes this phenomenon as bureaucratic alienation. Similar to Marx, Webber describes the problem of bureaucratic alienation as people and their needs being secondary with respect to efficiency. As a result of this problem, people are alienated and often treated poorly because of the lack of concern placed on the individual (Macionis, 2011).

According to Max Weber, he saw modern Western society with the perspective that behavior was becoming dominated by goal-oriented rationality (Macionis, 2011). According to Marx, workers are alienated by the workplace because they are no longer individuals (Macionis, 2011). The proof of Marx and Weber can be seen in the fact that bureaucratic systems must create efficient systems which result from treating workers more like machines rather than thinking members (Macionis, 2011). In an effort to create standardized systems that work on the principle of fairness, human aspiration and ambition is overlooked.

It is difficult to believe Durkheim’s concept of anomie because of the fact that there are more norms within modern society. Durkheim and Marx both agree that there is dissolution of traditional family in the modern society due to industrialization but the point at which creates negative behaviors is contentious. It is far more rational to think that modern workers are prone to alcoholism and other issues due to the fact that they cannot find meaning in the work that they perform. This is especially true when one views many of the modern jobs such as service work, i.e. cashiers at Walmart or fast food workers. I doubt seriously that these individuals experience alienation due to lack of norms, but rather they are lost in the gears of large machine.


Macionis, J. (2011). Society: The Basics, Eleventh Edition. Prentice Hall, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.


Vincent Triola. Thu, Mar 11, 2021. Marx & Durkheim: Modern & Post-industrial Society Social Pathologies Retrieved from

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