Topic 7

Marxism and Donzelot

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  • Created by: Jessica W
  • Created on: 09-12-11 10:02


  • Marxists are conflict theorists, they see society as based on class conflict. The capitalist society contains two classes: Capitalists and workers.
  • They believe that the dominant dominant class owns the means of production, such as factories, machinery and raw materials.
  • The workers sell the labour to the capitalists in return for their wages so they can survive. They get paid less than the value of what they produce.
  • In a capitalist society, all institutions including education, the media and religion to help maintain class inequality and exploitation.
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  • Unlike the functionalists, the marxists do not see social policies as benefiting all members of society equally.
  • Marxists do not accept that there is a steady march of progress towards ever better welfare policies producing happier families.
  • They argue that improvements for working-class families, such as pensions or free healthcare, have often only been won through class struggle to extract concessions from the capitalist ruling class.
  • Mrs.Thatchers government made major cuts to public services in the 1980's.
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  • Jacques Donzelot (1977) sees policy as a form of state power over families. Michel Foucalt's (1976) concept of surveillance is used.
  • Foucalt sees that professionals such as doctors power over their clients by using their expert knowledge.
  • Donzelot applies these idea to the family. He argues that professionals such as doctors and social workers as exercising power over their clients by using their knowledge to control and change families.
  • Poor families are likely to be seen as 'problem' families and the main cause of crime and anti-social behaviour. These are families that professionals target for 'improvement'.
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  • Rachel Condry (2007) notes that the state may seek to control and regulate family life by imposing compulsory parenting orders through the courts.
  • Parents of young offenders,traunts or badly behaved children may be forced to attend parenting calsses so they can bring their children up in the 'right' way.
  • Donzelot rejects the 'March of progress' view that social policy and professionals have created a better,freer or more humane society.
  • Marxists and feminists criticise Donzelot for failing to identify clearly who benefits from such policies of surveillance. Also that the socila policies generally operate in the interests of the capitalist class, whilst the feminists argue that men cause it.
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