Sociology : Stratification : Marxism


Marx and Engles

1. Argue a persons social class is defined by their relationship to the means of production.

2. The system is exploitative - proletariat produce all the wealth but the bourgeoisie do not pay them a wage that is equal to their value. The bourgeoisie keep the difference or the surplus value.

3. The infrastructure is capitalism or economic system. Whereas the superstructure is the ideological cultural lies, which is what decieves the proletariat into accepting the system.

4. Alienation - to suffer a loss or no longer know their own self. Commonly happens in the workplace - labour is sold for a wage and becomes the end focus. People go to work purely for income rather than to take pride. Workers engage in the cut-throat competition for jobs, undermining any sense of collective class unity.

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The middle-class are exploited by capitalism but they get to exploit the working-class. They control work processes, other workers, and the production itself. Those who rise up in the system will have very little lnterest in changing social structures because they benefit.

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The bourgeoisie were able to rule society and make inequality acceptable because they controlled the economy and creation of ideas. Creates a situation whereby the majority of people agree to their ideas without question. The rich can rule society because they are superior. The poor are taught this in education and via religion.

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There are two forms that oppress the poor:

1. Repressive state apparatus

2. Ideological state apparatus.

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The Frankfurt School

Interested in the importance of media and propaganda in influencing peoples attitude. Media has turned culture into a commodity that could be bought and sold like a product.

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Capitalism obtained consent of some groups in order to control and govern them by giving working-class people some of their demands. Workers believed capitalists were really on their side - no longer developed class consciousness.

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Governments are composed of powerful groups from very few families with vast privilege. The state is run by capitalists so governments actively protect capitalism. The state/government are a tool to maintain capitalism - not concerned with improving the lives of working people. Working-class people don't understand socialism and the benefit it has to them.

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Industrial workers lost skills when the industry became industrialised/mechanised. They lost power. He calls this the 'deskilling of society' which means owners become more powerful to hire and fire people, increasing their own wealth at the expense of the working-class.

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Too easy to claim that the problems of ethnic minorities in society are due to just class and racism. Media attention on young black muggers in the 1970's was deliberately designed to draw media and public attention away from failures of government and increasing inequality.

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