2. Marxism

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  • Marxism
    • MARX's ideas
      • Historical Marxism; the economy always shapes society because the economy and the need to provide for ourselves is the only reason society exists
      • Class society and exploitation; society is divided based on wealth and the unequal relationship of the rich and the poor
        • He identifies 3 types of society each with its own form on exploitation;
          • Ancient society based on exploitation of slaves
          • Feudal society based on the exploitation of serfs legally tied to the land
          • Capitalist society based on the exploitation of free wage labourers
      • Capitalism; society driven by money, materialism and profit and the division of the bourgeoisie and proletariat
      • Alienation; separating the labourers from what they produce and forcing them to perform meaningless tasks
      • Ideology; a set of beliefs or ideas used to control the proletariat through false consciousness
      • Class consciousness; awareness of the class divide and exploitation of the work force by the bourgeoisie
      • The state, revolution and communism; the proletarian revolution will be the first revolution by the majority against the minority
        • The revolution will abolish the state and create a classless society, abolish exploitation and end alienation
      • EVAL
        • MARX's view of class inequality is simplistic and one-dimensional
        • Ignores gender inequality
        • His theory is economically-deterministic. This fails to recognise that humans have free will and can bring about change through their conscious actions
      • Since MARX's death, the lack of revolution in the West has led many Marxists to reject the economic determinism of the base-superstructure model and 2 new approaches have emerged;
        • Humanistic Marxism which has some similarities with action theories and interpretive sociology
        • Structuralist Marxism which takes a structural approach and has similarities with positivist sociology
    • GRAMSCI and hegemony
        • See humans as creative beings able to make history through their conscious actions
      • He uses his concept of hegemony to explain how the r/c maintain its position using ideas and values to prevent revolution
      • The r/c maintain its dominance through coercion and consent
        • Coercion; the use of the army, police prisons and courts of the capitalist state to force others to accept its rule
        • Consent (hegemony); the use of ideas and values to persuade the subordinate classes that its rule is legitimate
      • In order for a revolution;
        • The proletariat must be able to construct a counter-hegemonic bloc. This means they must be able to offer moral ad ideological leadership to society.
        • The w/c must also produce a group f organic individuals who have dual conscioursness
      • EVAL
        • Over-emphasises the role of ideas
        • Under-emphasises the role of both state coersion and economic factors
    • ALTHUSSER's structuralist marxism
        • It'snot people's actions but social structures that really shape history
      • He favours the model of structural determinism in which society has 3 levels;
        • The economic level comprising of all the activities that involve producing something to satisfy a need
        • The political level comprising all forms of organisation
        • The ideological level involving the ways that people see themselves and their world
      • In ALTHUSSER's model the state performs political and ideological functions that ensure the reproduction of capitalism
      • He divides the state into 2 apparatus';
        • The repressive state apparatuses (RSA) which are the army, police, prisons... that coerce the w/c into complying with the will of the bourgeoisie
        • The ideological state apparatuses (ISA) which include the media, education system, family... that manipulate the w/c into accepting capitalism as legitimate
        • This is similar to GRAMSCI's distinction between coercion and consent
      • ALTHUSSER's criticisms of Humanism
        • For structural Marxists, our sense of free will, choice and creativity is an illusion and everything about us is the product of underlying social structures
        • Althusser is therefore dismissive of humanistic Marxists like Gramsci as they believe we can use our creativity, reason and free will to change society
      • EVAL
        • Although ALTHUSSER rejects our economic determinism he simply replaces it with a more complex structural determinism in which everything is determined by the 3 structures and their interrelationships
        • ALTHUSSER ignores the fact that it is the active struggles of the w/c that can change society
        • THOMPSON; accuses him of elitism


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