Essay Prominent Themes of What Makes a Society

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What is a society? This comprehensive question has acted as the driving force for much of the work done by theorists in the anthropological and sociological fields throughout time. Although these various social theorists have adopted distinct methodologies and frameworks, which typically guide their research in different directions, they have generally discussed similar themes throughout their work. Over the past 150 years, classical, Western social theorists such as, Émile Durkheim, Ferdinand Tönnies, Max Weber, Georg Simmel, Sigmund Freud, and many others, have all speculated on three specific aspects of society. First, it was common to consider the social players—that is, to discuss the role that individuals play and the freedoms …show more content…
Tönnies also believed that in the transformation from a Gemeinschaft to a Gesellschaft society there was a dissolution of the social body (Tönnies 1955). In his interpretation, this breakdown allowed the individual to be viewed “as a free agent…[and] as an independent person” (Tönnies 1955, 18). Similarly, Simmel saw the metropolis as a place for the social players to strive for their individuality and uniqueness while still recognizing that their connection to society was important (Simmel 1960). Foucault’s interpretation of the individual in modern society is similar to the classical interpretation; he argues that there is an increased recognition of individuality in modern civilization. He theorized that with the emergence of the examination, individuality was introduced “into the field of documentation” (Foucault 1984, 200). This increase in documentation created a space where the individual is “described, judged, measured, compared with others, and made into ‘a case’” (Foucault 1984, 203). Unlike in past eras, in modern times the status of the individual is “his own individuality” (Foucault 1984, 204). Marxist theory, however, does not view an increase

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