Marxist Theories

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Marxism - Marx


  • Looked back at primitive communism - everyone worked and shared equally
  • Then people developed tools and machines to assist in production > 2 class system = labourers and those who owned means of prouction
  • The superstructure in society rose from this base - so the ideas of capitalism shape education, law, media etc.
  • Wc sell labour for wages to survive but are exploited
  • State protects ruling class by transmitting ideology - maintains false CC
  • Marx forsees revolution to overthrow = classless communism
  • Weber critical - 2-class model is too simplistic - subdivides proletariart into skilled and unskilled classes, and white-collar class of office workers and a petty bourgeoisie (small capitalist)
  • Weber critical of polarisation - hasn't occurred - mc grown and wc shrunk in West socitiers, but vice versa in India and China due to globalisation
  • Not relevant - outdated, no longer have 2-class structure - have continually mc today
  • Not relevant - communist revolutions in past but have failed
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Marxism - Althusser


  • Rejects Marx's base - proposes more complex idea of structural determinism
  • Model - capiatlist society has 3 levels: political and ideological levels have relative autonomy to economic - so two-way causality
  • Also divides the state into 2 apparatuses: RSA are bodies that coerce wc into complying e.g. army, prisons, police. ISA are bodies that manipulate wc into accepting capiatlism as legit e.g. medi, education, family, religion
  • Strength - rejected economic determinism and proposed new model to help understanding of society
  • Craib - Althusser offers most sophisticated conception of social structure available in social sciences
  • Thompson critical - accuses of elitism, assumes communist party knows best so wc should follow them
  • Relevant - still RSA e.g. police
  • Relevant - replaced Marx's theory, so recognises society is changing and becoming more complex
  • Not relevant - ruling class no longer own all ISA
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Marxism - Gramsci


  • Uses concept of hegemony to explain maintainence of ruling class
  • Agrees with Marx - ruling class control institutions and use them to spread ideas to prevent revolution
  • But, always the chance of ruling class heegmony being underminded in an economic criss as wc may see through it
  • Revolution if body of workers create a revolutionary political party and create counter-hegemony
  • Their ideological leadership would be based on socialist not capitalist values
  • Criticised - overemphasies role of ideas ad underemphasises role of coercion e.g. wc may wish to revolt, but fear state repression - may tolerate capitalism bc no choice
  • Today, many workers plan strikes for eqaulity but they're cancelled due to coericon and job threats from bosses
  • Paul Willis' study Lads - they partially saw through the rules and school's ideology and realised meritocracy = myth
  • Relevant - applicable today e.g ideas spread through media - media's widespread now
  • Relevant - idea of dual consciousness still exists e.g. product of strikes are worry for not having money for family's needs
  • Not relevant - people have more freedom - no longer 2-class divide
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