Social Inequality - Marxism

Info I used for 40 marks (2016 exams)

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Outline and assess Marxist explanations of social/class inequality [40]
Marx ­ Capitalism
Marx's main idea is that we live in a capitalist society; this is a society which is based
on the principles of business
The capitalist structure: the bourgeoisie are in control of the means of production
due to their wealth; the bourgeoisie employ the proletariat so they can profit from
their labour
The proletariat suffer from false class consciousness as they do not realise they are
being exploited by the bourgeoisie
Agents of social control constantly enforce the idea that the capitalist system is
functional and benefits all
While Marx recognises that there are more than two classes, his main focus was the
unhealthy relationship between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie
Michael Moore has shown through his documentaries on capitalism that
businessmen and politicians are close and hold most of the power in society; this
shows how there is an elite few who hold all the power in society, unwilling to share
Also businesses make large amounts of profit, however they still do not pay workers
enough, showing how capitalist society's sole focus is making profit and exploiting
workers (minimum wage is proven to not be enough to live on)
Feminists argue that Marxists fail to consider the future disadvantage patriarchy can
have on an individual, in particular women. The division of labour between men and
women is due to both patriarchy which is a result of capitalism
Marx ­ Revolution
Marx believes the proletariat have the potential to overthrow the capitalist system
as there are so many people in society who fall under the 'proletariat' label
He also believed that over time, polarisation would occur in which the two classes
would polarise and move further apart
The proletariat would develop a full awareness of their oppression and exploitation,
effectively becoming fully class consciousness ­ this would enable them to rise up
against the bourgeoisie, challenge their economic dominance and force a proletarian

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Marx thought capitalism should be overthrown by communism, a society free of
oppression, exploitation and inequality ­ the proletariat would stop being a 'class in
itself' and start being a 'class for itself'
Countries have tried introducing a communist structure, however many countries
have shown how communism is unsuccessful.…read more

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Outline and assess Marxist explanations of social inequality [40]
He was the leader of the Italian communist party who tried to cause a revolution but
failed; as a result he was sentenced to life in prison
He believes the ruling class use their ideas to control the masses; these ideas ae
dispersed by agents of socialisation
The ruling class cannot rely on false class consciousness, they have to control the
ideas that people have too, mainly through informal social control
He believes hegemony occurs,…read more

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Class inequalities are reproduced and reinforced through education
The ruling class possesses more cultural, social and economic capital than the
subject class, and this is what helps them to succeed in the education system
Bourdieu believes that subject class failure within schools is the fault of the
education system, not working class culture
Highlighted by Gilles who found that working class mothers have less time and less
capital to advantage their children in education
However Bourdieu's ideas take some of the blame away from working…read more

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Conducted a study of the 70's mugging phenomenon
He believed that Britain was facing an economic crisis due to the capitalist system
The government didn't want the public to be aware of this, and instead used African
American males as scapegoats, blaming them for an increase in mugging in the 70s,
which wasn't even true as all ethnicities committed mugging
This suggests that in times of crisis and fault regarding the capitalist system, the
bourgeoisie will scapegoat those already at a disadvantage, in particular ethnic…read more

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Proposed that racial differences and racism itself are the creation of the economic
system; racism was created and is sustained by capitalism
Racism helps to maintain a false class consciousness by using a 'divide-and-rule'
tactic, by creating divisions within the working class itself ­ because of this, there is
less opportunity to unite and revolt
Shown in Phil Cohen's study of the skinhead subculture ­ they disliked the decrease
of working class communities, and blamed this on the increase of immigrants
>>>>>>>…read more

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Believes the elderly age marginalised as their needs are incompatible with
profit-making in a capitalist society; they do not have spending power and are
therefore unnecessary
Supported by statistics which show tat 1.…read more


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