Lecture 10 Conflict theory of Karl Marx Sociology developed in Europe in the 19th century, primarily as an attempt to understand the massive social and economic changes that had been sweeping across Western Europe in the 17th-19th centuries. These changes were later described as ‘the great transition’ from ‘pre-modern’ to ‘modern’ societies. [pic] Ontological assumptions of Marxist Theory: ??? structuralism, ??? conflict, ??? materialism Epistemology of realism Marx counts as a ‘key sociological thinker’, but Contrary to what one might infer from the history of Marxism after his death, Marx had little political or theoretical influence in his own lifetime. His collaborator, Engels was better known than Marx in the 1840s and 1950s. ??? Yet Marx is often heralded as a founder of sociology. But Marx himself did not identify his writing with sociology. He dismissed this discipline as ‘rubbish’ on reading its founding father, Auguste Comte. ??? Max Weber and Emile Durkheim often debated with Marx’s ghost in developing their own sociological approaches.
Although Marxism has frequently been declared moribund, it has equally often been revived and integrated into current sociological thinking. Who influenced Marx: ??? The dialectical method and historical orientation of Hegel o The dialectic (way of thinking and the image of the world ‘ dynamic rather than static) o Idealism (only mind and psychological constructs exist, the ‘spirit’ of society) ??? The classical political economy of Smith and Ricardo o Labour as a source of all wealth French socialist thought, in particular the republican conception of Rousseau and Proudhon’s critique of private property; ??? the young Hegelians, in particular Feuerbach and his idea of God as a projection maid by people of their human essence onto an impersonal force (materialist philosophy) Who was influenced by Marx: Georg Lukacs ; Vladimir Lenin; Louis Althusser ; Leon Trotsky; Antonio Gramsci ; Mao Zedong; Herbert Marcuse Key issues of Marx’s theory: ??? A Materialist Social Ontology ??? Historical Materialism The Critique of Capitalism ??? Ideology and ‘false consciousness’ ??? Class as a Social Relation A Materialist Social Ontology Hegelian idealism vs. Marxian materialism Hegel treated the self-consciousness of the mind as a substantive, really existing, disembodied entity and regarded individual minds as fragments of the one true mind (or Absolute Spirit). The real world is a result of the self-realisation of the Absolute Spirit. “The real is rational”. Why do we observe poverty, misery, and political oppression?
Don’t waste your time!
Order your assignment!
In true idealist fashion these evils were attributed to the grip of unsound ideas ‘ especially mystification and illusions produced by religion. Thus human emancipation would depend on overcoming such ‘false consciousness’. Marx turned Hegel right side up. “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness. ” The key feature of societies was how they organised material production. Human emancipation required the material transformation of society rather than a mere change in consciousness.
Historical Materialism is a distinctive method for analysing transforming historical development. Class struggle vs. succession of modes of production History is the history of class struggle Communist Manifesto (1848) the class relations typify different historical epochs, class relations are antagonistic ‘ class struggle ??? the subordinate classes develop class consciousness and revolutionary movements to challenge the dominant class(es), ??? revolutions develop new modes of production and forms of social organisation. 1. History is a succession of modes of production
In the 1959 Preface to the Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy and in Capital an alternative account of historical development, more obviously indebted to the Hegelian dialectic, emphasised the self-destructive contradictions and ‘laws of motion’ of specific modes of production. In contrast to the Manifesto, both texts focus on the unfolding logic of a system rather than class struggle. [pic] |Primitive Communism???? Ancient-?? Feudalism-?? Capitalism-?? Communism | The Critique of Capitalism
Marx’s theory is about freedom. What is good about capitalism ‘ it is a step towards freedom. It is also about constraint–about the circumstances and conditions that prevent working men and women from controlling the conditions of their own lives and work. What is bad about capitalism? Capitalism produces alienation. Alienation ‘ one of the key concepts of Marx’s theory – may be described as a condition in which men are dominated by forces of their own creation, which confront them as alien powers. 1. Alienation of men from products of their labour o Someone else has control over them The worker him/herself becomes a commodity o The more value the worker creates the more worthless he [she] becomes. 2. Alienated from the process of work. o Can’t get no satisfaction o Work is not fulfilling in itself but perceived as merely means, whereas only constructive labour makes humans human 3. Alienation from others o human relations become market relations The mechanism of exploitation In capitalist society the exploitation of workers is not obvious as it used to be in feudalism. It is not only the capitalist who will tend to think there is no exploitation; it is also the worker.
Job contracts don’t say???this is the part of the day you are working for yourself, and this is the part that you are working for the capitalist and adding to his capital. Rather, it looks like the worker sells a certain amount of her time to the capitalist and that she gets its equivalent in money. Why Marx clamed that there is exploitation? Marx argued that value is produced by labour only. If that is true individual capitalists may gain profits through innovations or market fluctuations, but these mechanisms simply redistribute the surplus value. How the whole class of capitalists can gain surplus value?
Marx proposed that it is produced by the working class as a whole. Capitalists appropriates surplus produced by working class. The profit or surplus-value arises when workers do more labour than is necessary to pay the cost of hiring their labour-power. Ideology and ‘false consciousness’ Conflict ontology assumes that societies are based on permanent conflicts (zero-sum model). How to explain the social order in terms of conflict theory? How to explain why most of societies are stable if conflict is considered to be permanent? Those who are most powerful in society try to socialise the least powerful into accepting the status quo.
So the consensus in Marx’s opinion is manufactured by means of ideology to maintain and protect the advantages of the powerful e. g. by preserving ‘false consciousness’. Ideology is an organised collection of ideas. Why are the most powerful classes able to control ideas? Ideology is located in superstructure. Since base determines the superstructure and the ruling class controls the society’s means of production, it controls the superstructure of society, including its ideology which is determined according to what is in the ruling class’s best interests.
Therefore the ideology of a society is of enormous importance since it confuses the alienated groups. Class as a Social Relation Karl Marx defined class in terms of the extent to which an individual or social group has control over the means of production. In Marxist terms a class is a group of people defined by their relationship to the means of production. [pic] Dominant classes own the means of production, whereas dominated classes not. What sorts of transformations are needed to eliminate economic oppression and exploitation within capitalist societies? “
In Manifesto Marx claims that capitalism creates its own gravediggers by creating the industrial proletariat. capitalism consolidates [pic]non-capitalists classes are eliminated and the proletariat expands concentration of capital grows as well as grows the understanding of the shared class position and common interests of proletariat trade unionism and party political organisation lead to potential emancipatory transformations ———————– MODE OF PRODUCTION= ECONOMIC STRUCTURE OR BASE THE SOCIAL RELATIONS OF PRODUCTION THE FORCES OF PRODUCTION How forces of production are to be used in order to produce.
The way that production is organised in a particular society, including the ownership of the means of production and control over the labour process. One class is the proprietor over these forces, the other being subject to them POLITICAL AND IDEOLOGICAL SUPERSTRUCTURE (government, law, politics, religion, art, literature, philosophy, science) Material factors used for the production, distribution and circulation of goods and services: ??? instruments of production (tools, machinery, etc. ), ??? raw materials, ??? labour power (physical power, skills, etc. ) and ??? infrastructure (roads, etc. )