ABSTRACT

Neither Weber or Durkheim accepted that the economy could be understood in exclusively liberal or political economic terms, yet each recognised the market and economic power as important social institutions within modern Western societies. With respect to liberalism, both theorists disputed the utilitarian claims that economy and society could be understood in terms of individual sovereignty and the self-interested drive to realise pre-social wants. Yet Weber was profoundly sympathetic to the moral and political aspects of liberalism (Holton and Turner 1989) and identified himself with liberal political movements in Germany (Giddens 1972). Durkheim was more critical of liberal individualism and more committed to the importance of supra-individual social institutions able to evoke solidarity and social integration (Lukes 1973). Yet Durkheim also recognised the key roles of the socialised individual and of the heterogeneity of secularised individual activities within modern society. This aligned him politically with radical liberal-democratic movements as distinct from laissez-faire liberalism.