• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Marxism - political theory

Extracts from this document...


Marxism like functionalism is concerned with the overall picture of society. Marxism is seen as a conflict theory, Mainly because they see the primary interests of society as a whole as being made up of conflicting groups with conflicting interests or beliefs. We are a very materialistic society. A society made up of those who have, and those who have not. Marxists sociologists say that there will never be true social harmony because there are too many inequalities within our cultural society. Marx gave names to the haves and have nots, they are known as the Bourgeoise and the Proletariats. One way of assessing the power of the upper class is through the study of elites (people who fill the top positions in each of the major institutions of society); most of the sociological debates have centered on economic elites and political elites. (Sociology in focus 5th Edition, 2000, page 53) The main question asked by Marxist sociologists is how we all can benefit equally and how can we get rid of the social inequalities present in our society. They differ form functionalists in the way that they see the difference. Marxist sociologists see them as being persistent and not just as a temporary state of affairs to be overcome. ...read more.


Marx understood that inherent within capitalism was also a system of power: it is both economic and political; it both coerces and exploits workers. Actions undertaken in the name of economic necessity disguise political decisions For example, although it is an accepted economic method for dealing with inflation, raising interest rates protects the wealthy, while causing unemployment among the poor. The political decision to privilege the wealthy at the expense of workers is hidden behind economics. Commodities Marx's understanding of commodities (products of labor intended for exchange) is central to understanding his ideas about the nature of capitalism. Commodities produced to subsist and to satisfy their needs have use value. Under capitalism, where workers produce for others and exchange commodities for money, products have exchange value. Because it is often unclear where a commodity's value comes from, it takes on an independent, external reality. Marx called this the fetishism of commodities, when the value of an object or commodity is believed to be tied to something "natural" or independent of human action, such as markets. Thus, the reality that value originates from labor and the satisfaction of needs is obscured. Marx used the term reification to describe the process whereby social structures become naturalized, absolute, independent of human action, and unchangeable. ...read more.


Marx used equality and freedom, our ideas of which stem from the nature of commodity exchange in capitalist society. These mask the fact that we are neither equal with one another nor able to freely control our labor or the products of our labor. Capitalism inverts our notion of equality and freedom: it is capital that is freely and equally exchanged, not individuals who are free and equal. Marx also viewed religion as an ideology. Just as freedom and equality are ideas to be cherished, religion also contains positive dimensions, but it has been used to disguise the true set of relations that undergird capitalism. Criticisms Marx has faced a number of criticisms. Most importantly, actual existing communism failed to fulfill its promise. Though these experiments may have distorted Marx's thought, Marxist theory certainly did not reflect its practice. Second, history has shown that workers have rarely been in the vanguard of revolutionary movements, and indeed have resisted communism in some places. Third, Marx failed to adequately consider gender as factor in the reproduction of labor and commodity production. Fourth, some have accused Marx of focusing far too much on production, without giving enough attention to the act of consumption. Last, Marx's historical materialist approach uncritically accepts Western notions of progress. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Political Philosophy section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Political Philosophy essays

  1. Can feminism be thought of as a theory of law or, otherwise, fundamental in ...

    the alterations needed to adequately unify both genders in a legal sense is the 'postmodern' legal theory. This theory, commonly portrayed as a "recipe for relativism,"19 also displays the characteristics needed in order to force "individuals to confront and change the rigid contexts and structures (including laws)

  2. Utilitarianism: Explanation And Study of Criticisms

    Most utilitarians are universalists and regard egoism as a perverted form of utilitarianism because any moral theory should be able to be acknowledged to be promoted by all persons. But, an egoist is certainly not going to go around and talk everyone into being an egoist.

  1. How and why does Locke explain the creation, value and protection of property?

    The belief in God given abilities and the obligations that follow are not totally deterministic. Man, endowed with reason, could choose not to develop these abilities. Having the ability to choose the development of his potential, each man is responsible for that potential and consequently is responsible for his own body.

  2. Karl Marx was the greatest thinker and philosopher of his time. His views on ...

    These differences in culture and similarities in beliefs complemented each other well. This outlook on society and the class war was ingenious. It was their greatest work together, the communist manifesto, which achieved them their most popularity among the proletariat, and created the most problems with the government for the two.

  1. Compare and Contrast pluralist and ruling elites accounts of political power

    Dunleavy and O'leary (1987) state that "Individuals always express interests" elitists however find fault with this theory and describe the problem of the "free rider" where by just because someone has an interest does not mean they will join an interest group as the costs of joining may outweigh the

  2. A Study of Carl Rogers' Theory of Personality

    In Rogers' view (1959, 1961, 1977) personality change is certainly possible and is further a necessary part of growth. However, he notes that self-acceptance is a prerequisite (1961). Rogers originally failed to recognize the importance of "self". When he began his work he had the "settled notion that the "self"

  1. To what extent did the key political ideas directly Influence change and development in ...

    His cunning policy had gained him the success in creating a united Italian state, this was the success that had been eluding the more idealistic nationalists that wished for the same result. The same sort of thing was going on in Germany whereby Prussian Minister-President Otto Von Bismarck, was following

  2. How did Marx explain the collapse of Capitalism and how did the ideas of ...

    This, for Marx, meant communism, a classless society based on the common ownership of productive wealth. With the establishment of communism, the 'pre-history of mankind' will have to come to an end. Another critique of capitalism rests on the notion of alienation for Marx.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work