"KARL MARX (Conflict Theorist)"
MARXISM Karl Marx Father of Marxism Theory Conflict Conflict Theory Asserts that there are major differences of interests between social groups Differences are due to conflict being a natural and persistent feature of society Observations/Concerns Observed the industrial transformations occurring in Europe and growth of factories Concentration of the riches of industries in hands of few Extreme wealth on the one hand, and extreme poverty on the other MARXISM Differs fundamentally from Functionalism Increased in popularity and influence in sociology during the 1970s, due largely to functionalism’s decline its promise to provide answers that functionalism could not provide and more in tune with mood of the times (Haralambos) 1) 2) 3) Tenets of Marxist Theory Human beings must produce food and material objects for survival They must therefore enter into social relationships with others - “Relations of Production” Production also involves a technical component, - the “Forces of Production” (technology, raw materials,scientific knowledge) Tenets of Marxism cont’d Each major stage in the development of the FOP corresponds with a particular form of the social ROP Parts of the FOP that can be legally owned are the “Means of Production” (land, raw materials, machinery, buildings and tools) MOP do not include technical knowledge or labour power since workers are free to sell their labour Tenets of Marxism cont’d FOP plus the social ROP form the INFRASTRUCTURE or economic basis of society Other aspects are called the SUPERSTRUCTURE and are shaped by the INFRASTRUCTURE This means that the religious, social, political, legal and educational institutions, belief and value systems are primarily determined by economic forces Tenets of Marxism cont’d Any change in the economic system will produce corresponding change in the superstructure All societies, with the possible exception of those of prehistory, contain basic contradictions Fundamental contradiction is the exploitation of one social group by another (employer/employee; lord/serf; slave master/slave; bourgeoisie/proletariat) Tenets of Marxism cont’d Exploitation creates major conflict of interest between groups as one gains at the expense of others This situation must be resolved since it cannot survive unchanged Marx’s Explanations of the Workings of Capitalism Only labour power of workers produces wealth, but much of that wealth is appropriated in the form of profits by capitalists Workers’ wages are far smaller than the value of what they produce Result - contradiction between labour power of workers (FOP) that produces profit and ROP (appropriation of profits by capitalists) Marx’s Explanations of the Workings of Capitalism cont’d Contradictions between FOP and ROP lie in social and collective nature of production and the private and individual nature of ownership These contradictions would lead to downfall of capitalist system Capitalist Society Contains 2 classes - bourgeoisie (capitalist) who own productive enterprises; proletariat who provide necessary labour to operate these enterprises Conflict between capitalists and workers has roots in the productive process Capitalists minimize wages in order to maximize profits Capitalist Society cont’d Workers want high wages, thus conflict is ongoing Conflict would end when capitalist system is abandoned Marx rejected capitalist common sense – workers are poor because of poor skills and motivation; capitalists wealthy because they earned it (FALSE CONSCIOUSNESS) Why False Consciousness? Explanations of social problems grounded in the shortcomings of individuals rather than the flaws of society is rejected by Marx (Macionis and Plummer) Industrial capitalism is responsible for many of social ills Marx’s Condemnation of Capitalism Capitalism produces alienation Workers are dominated by capitalists; their jobs are dehumanizing (monotonous and repetitive) and give little satisfaction Another contradiction of capitalist society - as humans make technology to gain power over the world, the productive process increasingly assumes power over them Workers see themselves as commodities Development of Western Society 4 main Epochs/Periods characterized by a particular mode of production 1. Primitive Communism - hunters & gathers; production of food and other material goods was a common effort shared virtually equally by all members of society. Resources of nature shared by all, everyone performed similar tasks, little opportunity for social conflict ONLY EXAMPLE OF A CLASSLESS SOCIETY Development of Western Society cont’d 2. Ancient society (master and slave) 3. Feudal society (lord and serf) 4. Capitalist society (bourgeoisie and proletariat) All periods after Primitive Communism characterized by class conflict, inequality, exploitation Marxism Except for primitive communism, the history of all societies including capitalism is the history of class struggle Class struggle the driving force of social change Final epoch/period of history – communist/ socialist society Class Consciousness Envisioned workers under Capitalism becoming unified “class for themselves”, giving rise to historic confrontation & eventually overthrow of Capitalist regime False consciousness replaced by Class consciousness (unity as a class in opposition to Capitalists and Capitalism) Communism will supplant capitalism Why the revolution failed to materialize? Fragmentation of capitalist class (families, shareholders, managers of MOP) White-collar work and a rising standard of living (workers aspire to become like mgt.; many workers do not perceive themselves negatively and entirely alienated) More extensive worker organizations Why the revolution failed to materialize? cont’d. More extensive legal protection (minimum wage, equal pay legislation, NIS) Changes in Management practices (bottom up practices; worker democracy) More intelligent and informed work force Presence of Human Rights groups