The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were full of evolving social and economic ideas. These views of the social structure of urban society came about through the development of ideas taken from the past revolutions. As the Industrial Revolution progressed through out the world, so did the gap between the class structures. The development of a capitalist society was a very favorable goal for the upper class. By using advanced methods of production introduced by the Industrial Revolution, they were able to earn a substantial surplus by ruling the middle class. Thus, maintaining their present class of life, while the middle class was exploited and degraded. At this time in history, social theorists like Emile Durkheim and Karl Marx challenged the aspect of social structure in their works. Emile Durkheim is known as a functionalist states that everything serves a function in society and his main concern to discover what that function was. On the other hand Karl Marx, a conflict theorist, stresses that society is a complex system characterized by inequality and conflict that generate social change. Both Durkheim and Marx were concerned with the characteristics of groups and structures rather than with individuals. .
The functionalist perspective in society is a view of society that focuses on the way various parts of society have functions, or possible effects that maintain the stability of the whole. Durkheim developed the idea of society as an integrated system of interrelated parts. He wanted to establish how the various parts of society contribute to the maintenance of the whole. He also focused on how various elements of social structure function to maintain social order and equilibrium. Durkheim stressed that culture is the product of a community and not of single individuals. He argued that the ultimate reality of human life is sociological and not psychological. The sociological reality, which Durkheim called the collective conscience, exists beyond the individual and individual actions.