Marxist Theory to an Understanding of Society


Marxism- Top Down, Structuralist Approach

Marxism- Class Inequality and Capitalism

Marxists see society based on class division and capitalist exploitation with the capitalist class (bourgeoisie) and working class (proletariat)

Other sociologists such as Functionalists see society and education as a value consensus

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Marx- Historical Materialism- Means of Production

Historical materialism- humans have material needs e.g. food, shelter, clothing- have to work in order to recieve these

Known as the forces/means of production

Over time, machines developped to to assist with production

Marx - class division is based on labour

Division of labour- develops into 2 classes; class that owns the means of production (bourgeoisie) and the class of labourers (proletariat)

Forms the economic base of society

Simple jobs- alienated workers- globalisation - cheap labour- international

Example: Phillip Green- BHS spent workers pensions

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Althusser- Scientific Marxism- Structural Determin

Change is the outcome of structural determinism

Althusser- structural determinism: Capitalism has 3 structures:

1. Political Level - all forms of organisation- government, make the laws

2. Economic Level - all activities that involve producing something to satisfy a need

3. Ideological Level - ways people see themselves in the world, MM- portray government

Craibs Building Analogy- all levels are independent yet interconnected

partial anomy- seperate jobs need to work together in harmony

Althusser- state performs political and ideological functions to ensure capitalism continues- indespensable functions- ISA and RSA

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Gramsci- Action Theorist- Hegemony

Hegemony- ideological/moral leadership of society, proletariat must develop 'counter-hegemony' to be able to win the leadership of society from the bourgeosie, counter-hegemony - need to challenge the moral leadership of the ruling class e.g. a classless society- equality

Gramsci- ruling class maintain their power through coercion- army, police, prisons, courts of capitalist state to force other classes to accept its rule

similar to: althusser RSA, ISA. MARX- armed bodies of men

hegemony is never complete due to;

- the ruling class being a minority- need to create a power bloc by making alliences with other groups

- the proletariat have a dual consciousness- ideas are influenced not only by bourgeois ideology but also by material conditions of life e.g. poverty and exploitaton

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Willis- Myth of Meritocracy

Capitalist society- based on inequality- danger the poor will feel this inequality is undeserved and unfair and they will rebel against the system responsible

Bowles and Gintis- education system helps to prevent rebellion- legitimating class inequalities- produces ideologys that serve to explain and justify why inequality is fair, natural and inevitable

Bowles and Gintis- education system- giant myth-making machine, meritocracy- everyone has equal opps, rewards based on effort and ability, those who gain rewards- hardworking and most able- deserve them

Bowles and Gintis- meritocracy does not exist, evidence- main factor determining income is family/class background- not ability/educational achievement

myth of meritocracy- serves to justify privileges of the higher classes- seems they gained well through succeeding in open/fair competition at school- helps pursuade w/c to accept inequality as legitimate- less likely to seek to overthrow capitalism

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Marxists- see only class as important

Very narrow-minded - too deterministic

schools provide very different types of labour force

PM- education now reproduces diversity, not inequality

Feminists- education not only reproduces capitalism but patriarchy too

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