ing institutions that a conventional academic career was impos-
sible. He spent most of his life in exile from his native Germany.
Marx’s personal life was a difficult struggle. When a paper
he had written was suppressed, he fled to France. In Paris, he met
anomie, people are so confused and unable to cope with the new
social environment that they may resort to suicide.
Durkheim was concerned about the dangers that alienation,
loneliness, and isolation might pose for modern industrial societies.
He shared Comte’s belief that sociology should provide direction for
social change. As a result, he advocated the creation of new social
groups—mediators between the individual’s family and the state—
that would provide a sense of belonging for members of huge,
impersonal societies. Unions would be an example of such groups.
Like many other sociologists, Durkheim did not limit his
interests to one aspect of social behavior. Later in this book we
will consider his thinking on crime and punishment, religion,
and the workplace. Few sociologists have had such a dramatic
impact on so many different areas within the discipline.
Another important early theorist was Max Weber (pronounced
vay -ber). Born in Germany, Weber (1864–1920) studied legal and
economic history, but gradually developed an interest in sociology.
Eventually, he became a professor at various German universi-
ties. Weber taught his students that they should employ
(pronounced fair-shtay-en), the German word for “understanding”
or “insight,” in their intellectual work. He pointed out that we cannot
analyze our social behavior by the same type of objective criteria we
use to measure weight or temperature. To fully comprehend behav-
ior, we must learn the subjective meanings people attach to their
actions—how they themselves view and explain their behavior.
For example, suppose that a sociologist was studying the
social ranking of individuals in a fraternity. Weber would expect
the researcher to employ
to determine the signifi-
cance of the fraternity’s social hierarchy for its members. The
researcher might examine the effects of athleticism or grades
or social skills or seniority on standing within the fraternity. He
Contributors to Sociology
Max Weber 1864–1920
Karl Marx 1818–1883
W. E. B. DuBois
Law, economics, history, philosophy
The Division of Labor in
Suicide: A Study in
of Religious Life
The Protestant Ethic
and the Spirit of Capitalism
Economy and Society
The Communist Manifesto
The Philadelphia Negro
The Negro Church
Souls of Black Folk