During the Cold War, US sociologists lionized Max Weber as a superior alternative to Karl Marx. For all his brilliance, Weber’s social theory glosses over the violent, exploitative nature of capitalism and serves as a pessimistic defense of the status quo.
Kieran Allen is associate professor of sociology at University College Dublin and the author of several books, including Durkheim: A Critical Introduction and 32 Counties: The Failure of Partition and the Case for a United Ireland.
University courses present Émile Durkheim as a “value-free” sociologist who gave us timeless insights. But Durkheim’s sociology is inseparable from the bitter class conflicts of the French Third Republic and his profound hostility to revolutionary change.