Marxism - A2 Communications & Culture

Marxism Revision ahead of June Exams

  • Created by: Becky
  • Created on: 03-05-12 10:04




Key Concepts That Should Be Used In Exam

1 of 17

What Is Marxism?

Marxism is a political-economic theory that presents a materialist conception of history, a non-capitalist view of capitalism and other types of society, and non-religious view of human liberation. Marxism at its core, holds a critical analysis of capitalism and a theory of social change.

2 of 17

What is Market Liberalism?

Market Liberalism is broadly supportive of the 'way things are' and tends to assert not only the economic benefits of capitalism but also its social, cultural and political benefits.

3 of 17

What is Capitalism?

Capitalism is an economic system that emerged in the 18th Century Europe to become, by the early twenty-first century, the world's dominant form of economic organisation. It is a system in which people are driven to produce goods and services for a profit. The three preprequisites for production are:

  • Land
  • Capital (money)
  • Labour

Land and capital are centred in the hands of the minority who are able to make a profit by purchasing the third factor of production: labour. Land and Capital are privately owned by individuals or companies but labour owned is owned by all of us: everyone has the capacity to sell their own labour. The goods or services that are priduced in this way are then sold on the open market; a market in which the majority of the consumers are those same workers who sell their labour to the owners of the capital - the capitalists.

4 of 17

Free Market



The market is regulated by the laws of supply and demand whilst competition between providers ensures that price and quality are controled. This idea is known as 'free market' and is at the heart of capitalism.

5 of 17



The form of capitalism that endiores the freedom of the market in its purest sense is usually refered to as 'laissez-faire capatilism' . Laissez-Faire means 'leave it alone', so in this form of capitalism the market is allowed to operate in accordance with its internal laws (eg. supply and demand), without any interference.

6 of 17

Who would want to tamper with the market or interf


As far as the market liberals are concerned, the enemy of the piece is the state. For the supporters of laissez-faire capitalism the absolute idea would be non state intervention at all but most market liberals understand that some 'rules' have to be enforced by the state. In reality, governments have always intervened with the market.


7 of 17

Some governemnts may control wages by restricting pay rises or minimum wage. Sometimes national governments restrict freedom of trade by passing laws to protect their domestic industries eg. stopping imports from coming into the country.

Another way in which the state can intervene is to remove whole sectors of the ecnomy from the market in order to create a 'public sector' alongside privately opwned parts of the industry. In the UK, the following institutions are located wholly or partly in the public sector.

The NHS            Education

Armed Services       The Roads

The Police      The BBC

Prisons     Civil Services

8 of 17

Britain is a country that has both public and private industries, otherwise known as a mixed economy. The political approach that favours a mixture of public and private enterprises is called the social market position.

The Conservative Party favour a more private enterprise, whilst Labour generally are supportive of Public Sector.

Under Margerate Thatchers power in 1979 they set transforming the public/private balance by initiating a programme of privatisation. Many comapnies and economuic sectos were shifted to the private sector. These included the coal industry, the steel industry, BT, the utilities, BA and the railways all found themselves in private hands.

9 of 17

Market Liberalism Benefits

The Benfits of Market Liberalism are:

  • Free Market
  • Free Trade
  • Competition
  • Supply and Demand
  • Limited Government Interference with the Market
  • Pluralist Political System.
10 of 17




A Marxist view is that the working class people all over the world have more in common with each other tahn  they have with the ruling classes that oppress them in their own particular country.


11 of 17

Marxism: The Basics

A fundamental principle of Marixism is that all social institutions and cultural practuces are shaped by economic factors. This means that in order to understand, for example, the family or education or government or the legal system, we must first comprehend the economic system or, as Marx would term it, the mode of production.


12 of 17

The Bae/Superstructure Model

A way of understanding Marx's view of the relationship between the economy (the base) and the social/cultural sphere such as family, politics and law (the superstructure). It's rather like a house in which the foundations (the base) are invisible, but without the rest of the house (the superstructure) would collapse.

13 of 17

For Marxists, human beings have always organised themselves in order to extract what is needed from the enviroment in order to survive and prosper. Historically, modes of production have developed from the earliest forms of hunter/gatherer society through to societies based on slavery to feudalism and the capitalism. Each stage is more sophisticated the one before it. .

14 of 17

Capitalism in a Marxist view

Capitalism in a Marxist view is rather different to the one above. They see it like this.

In capitalism economies, one group of people (the ruling class or bourgoisie) own the capital (money) to invest in factories, offices, machinery, new technology and land; in other words, almost all of the things necessary to produce wealth. The missing ingredient that the bourgoise need to produce wealth is labour needed to create profitable products and services. Labour is owned by the second and much larger grouop in society, the working class or proletariat. Labour may be physical or intellectual, skilled or unskilled, so that in Marxist temrs the tractor driver, the neurosurgeon and football player are all members of the working class.

15 of 17

It is in the interest of the bourgeoisie to pay as little as possible for labour, whilst its in the labours interest to receive the full value of their labour. This is a conflict of material interests.

Workers may not realise they are being explited and the members of the bourgeouise may not realise they are being exploitative. However, the exploitation of labour is still in the 'material' interest of the capitalist but not of the material interest of the worker.

16 of 17

Consequences of Capitalist Exploitation of Labour

Alienations: Although all workers contribute to the net worth of society, workers under capitalism fail to derive any of the psychologocial benefits of productive work. Marx indentified four different types of alienation experience by workers in a capitalist system:

1) Alienation from 'human essence'. This is the feeling of beuing no more than a small cog in a huge machine.

2) Alienation between workers. Labour is a commodity to be bough and sold so individual workers find themselves in competition for jobs.

3) Alienation between workers and the process of production. Activity at work seems without meaning or purporse

4) Alienation between workers and the products of their labour. Workers have little or no control over what they produce and hence feel no emotional attachment to their products. In factory production systems they may not even see the finished product.

17 of 17


No comments have yet been made

Similar Communication and Culture resources:

See all Communication and Culture resources »