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Sociology Theory Alienated Labor Communist Manifesto & Charismatic Authority Question

  1. Here, you will submit your first reading memo. Memos should provide a summary of texts—in your own words—by responding to several key questions I offered in the “Week in Review” episode this week.Please upload a Word document or a PDF file. In it, you will respond to one question from each of the following readings — so, you should answer five questions in at least 300 words total.“Alienated Labor” – Karl Marx (choose 1)
    • Because of the disconnection and alienation that comes from working, Marx says that a person only feels free in their most “animal” functions, like “eating, drinking, and procreating” (p. 5) as well as in their home and their own self-expression. Can you relate to this? Have you ever felt disconnected from work and only felt truly yourself outside of the workplace?
    • Note that Marx identifies four characteristics of alienation in this piece. The first two are as follows: labor alienates 1) nature from man, 2) man from himself. What are the third and fourth characteristics? 

    “The Manifesto of the Communist Party” — Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels (choose 1)

    • Note the distinction between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat — who are these groups, and how are they defined?
    • The authors say that modern bourgeois society has “conjured up such gigantic means of production and of exchange” (p. 17) like a sorcerer who can’t control their spells. They later describe this problem as “the epidemic of over-production” (p. 17). How can you see this in today’s society through globalization and forms of mass production around the world? Are we losing control? How so?

    “On Mechanical and Organic Solidarity” – Émile Durkheim (choose 1)

    • After reading this piece, you should definitely be able to name the two forms of solidarity that Durkheim discusses. What are they? How are they different? Consider the place you grew up — does it reflect the first type of solidarity Durkheim describes, or the second type?
    • How does Durkheim describe society as an organism? Be specific.

    “What is a Social Fact?” – Émile Durkheim (choose 1)

    • Pay attention to how Durkheim defines social facts. What are some characteristics he offers about these phenomena? Note how social facts are considered to be external to the individual and “endowed with coercive power” (p. 33). What types of examples does he offer when describing forms of coercive power? 

    • Make note of Durkheim’s term “social currents.” What are some examples of these, and where have you experienced their impact in your own life?

    “The Sociology of Charismatic Authority” — Max Weber (choose 1)

    • Consider President Obama and President Trump—analyze both figures as charismatic leaders per Weber’s framework.
    • Charisma requires its bearer (i.e., the leader) and its followers to be “free of all worldly ties, free from everyday occupations as well as from everyday family responsibilities” (p. 73). Can you think of an example of a charismatic leader who would encourage a group of followers to ‘free themselves’ from everyday life? Try to think outside of the box here, and feel free to draw on your own experiences.


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