Assess the Marxist perspective to our understanding of society

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ALTHUSSER - concept of relative autonomy 

Marx over emphasise how the eco system drove society

Althusser argued there were 3 interlocking themes, economics, political and ideological

Economics has ultimate control but the other 2 have significant degrees of autonomy

He believed the state was made of 2 elements: repressive state apparatus (police) & ideological state appartatus (education) - they all have effetcs on us and benefit capitalism


The suggestion that society is complex

MARCUSE - from Frankfurt school - wants, needs and desires are  manipulated by the media to increase profits by selling even more capitalist commodities - the function of media is to ensure minds focus on trivia not analysis of capitalism , a distraction  

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Traditional Marxism


Scientific explanation of society -history is divided into 5 epochs by changes in economy, at first it was primitive communism  (hunter-gatherer), then feudalism, then to capitalism.

Capitalism would inevitably give way to comm, the ruling class exploit ppl to benefit them

Dominant institutions (religion/education) reinforces and justifies hese values so ppl accept them - false class consciousness - Society will fall to communism after a period of crisis 


Political not just sociological 

Crisis not occured

Cap grown stronger

Cap changed since Marx

Growth in m/c & no huge inequalities 

ADORNO - instrumental reason - marx failed to explore why ppl accepted capitalism/consumerism 

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Late Modernist


Capitalism is clever in response to change - developed new sources of profit - 'flexibe accumulation' - a manipulation of identity w/fashion developments/trade through globalisation of cheap goods.

Major real changed that have affected capitalism = national gov are less powerful 

Real politics replaced by image politics, social class as a division has been replaced by other divisions 


Neo-Marxism/late modernism give a much more realistic approach 

Ignores other forms of oppression e.g class and gender

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