Immersion Lecture: Classical Sociological Theory – Marx, Weber, Durkheim

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Time of Event: 
Monday, January 11, 2016 - 10:45 to 11:30

In this lecture, Dr. Tom Rudel overviews three classical sociological theorists: Marx, Weber, and Durkheim. He notes that all three are structuralists, but that each identifies a different force that structures economic activity and outcomes. He describes Marx’s focus on the factory as the site of consumption and production, and he notes the contemporary theories of the treadmill of production and world systems as deriving from Marx’s theories. He then summarizes the theories of Weber, who sees the rationalized state as structuring production and consumption, and he highlights ecological modernization and notions of a world society as updates of Weber’s theories. Finally, he discusses Durkheim’s ideas about occupations and the division of labor as structuring economic activity, and notes the theoretical assumption that stability and technological developments are generated by economic specialization.

Reading List

Rudel, T.K., Roberts, J.T., and Carmin, J. (2011). Political economy of the environment. Annual Review of Sociology 37: 221–238.

Presentation Slides

Click here to download the presentation slides.

Tom Rudel studies the social dimensions of landscape changes in the Americas, both North and South. His research has focused on metropolitan expansion in the United States and forest losses in the Ecuadorian Amazon. The latter set of studies has included work on "the forest transition." He has also done research on the forces that have driven suburban sprawl, primarily through field studies in the northeastern United States. He just finished a book, entitled Defensive Environmentalists and the Paths to Global Environmental Reform, to be published by Cambridge University Press. He is a Distinguished Professor in the Departments of Human Ecology and Sociology at Rutgers University.

Event type: 
Immersion Speaker
Event Attendance: 
Private Working Group
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