Pure Marxism

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Pure Marxism: Historical Materialism

Base (economic infrastructure) - this refers to the economy - hunting, feudal, capitalist or socialist

Superstructure - refers to the social, cultural, political and ideological parts of society

Means of Production - things needed to produce goods

Relations of Production - the social relationship in society e.g. exploitation in capitalist society

Two Classes:

Bourgeoisie - the ruling class

Proletariat - legally free so not slaves or serfs, seperate from the means of productions, have to sell their labour and this allows them to survive, they are not free as they dont have surplus income

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Ruling Class Ideology and False Class Consciousnes

  • the ecomic infrastructure determines the superstructure
  • captalists economise on political power and legetimise their position through laws
  • beliefs and values also reflect and legitimise the relations of production
  • workers are persuaded they are free and they choose whom they sell their labour to
  • ruling class ideology is therefore a distortion of reality and a false picture of society
  • helps to maintain the system by blinding people to their oppression
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  • reached its height in capitalist society
  • labour is dominated by requirements of capitalism
  • the requirements determine levels of employment and wages, the nature and quantity of good produced
  • workers are prisoners of market forces

Result of:

  • loss of control over our own labour
  • seperation from our true nature
  • exists in all societies
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  • capitalism will eventually be replaced by socialism
  • change will be sudden and will be caused by contradiction and conflict in capitalist society
  • this will abolish exploitation , replace private ownership with social ownership
  • will satisfy human needs
  • ends alienation
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Evaluating Historical Materialism


  • 1 dimensional view of inequality - only class is important
  • Weber - the state and power differences are important, proliteriat should be divided again into skilled and unskilled workers 
  • Feminists - gender is a fundamental source of inequality
  • Marx two class system is over simplistic
  • Class polarisation has not occured, instead the middle class has grown

Economic Determinism

  • economic factors are not to sole cause of everything within society
  • free will is completely ignored
  • means we cant bring about change
  • ignores the role of new idea
  • no revolution has occured  
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  • rejects the extent to which Marx concentrated on material factors and the nature of captialist society
  • ownership of means of production is not enough to ensure the ruling class can monopolise power
  • hegemony is achieved through winning the support of the working classes
  • the state does not exclusively benefit the ruling class
  • places greater emphasis on the division within classes, political stability and superstructure


  • learning to labour
  • interactionist and neo marxist

Taylor, Walter and Young

  • new criminology, fully social theory of deviance
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  • neo marxists have developed upon criticisms aimed at traditional marxism and noted societal developments
  • taken into account the growing middle class
  • recognise diversity and the changes in the nature of the ownership of the means of production


  • doesnt develop a clear approach to understanding society
  • not realistic
  • moved too far from Marxism to draw this association
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