This volume challenges prevailing understanding of the two great founders of sociological thought. In a detailed and systematic way the author demonstrates how Marx and Durkheim gradually developed the fundamental frameworks for sociological materialism and idealism. While most recent interpreters of Marx have placed alienation and subjectivity at the centre of his work, Professor Alexander suggests that it was the later Marx’s very emphasis on alienation that allowed him to avoid conceptualizing subjectivity altogether. In Durkheim’s case, by contrast, the author argues that such objectivist theorizing informed the early work alone, and he demonstrates that in his later writings Durkheim elaborated an idealist theory that used religious life as an analytical model for studying the institutions of secular society.
Preface. 1. Prolegomena: General Theoretical Argument as Interpretation: The Critical Role of ‘Readings’ Part 1: Collective Order and the Ambiguity about Action 2. Marx’s First Phase (1): From Moral Criticism to External Necessity 3. Marx’s First Phase (2): The Attack on Moral Criticism and the Origins of a Historical Materialism 4. Durkheim’s First Phase (1): The Ambiguous Transition from Voluntary Morality to Morality as External Constraint 5. Durkheim’s First Phase (2): The Division of Labor in Society as the Attempt to Reconcile Instrumental order with Freedom Part 2: Two Different Paths to Collective Order 6. Marx’s Later Writings: The Elegant Apotheosis of Instrumental Control 7. Durkheim’s Later Writings (1): The Transition to Morality as a Spiritual Force 8. Durkheim’s Later Writings (2): The Religious Model and the Idealist Theory of Society Part 3: One-Dimensional Theory and Its Discontents 9. Equivocation and Revision in the Classical Theory of Sociological Idealism: Durkheim and ‘Durkheimianism’ 10. Equivocation and Revision in the Classical Theory of Sociological Materialism: Marx and ‘Marxism’. Notes. Works of Marx and Durkheim. Indices.