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

Marx’s Theory of Social Class.

Extracts from this document...


MARX'S THEORY OF SOCIAL CLASS. Many different schemes have been used to identify social classes or divisions of rank and wealth. However, it was only in the 1st three decades of the 19th century that the term 'class' gradually replaced 'estate', 'rank' and 'order' as the word used to denote divisions within society. The change of vocabulary reflected the diminishing significance of rank and ascribed or inherited qualities in general and the growing importance of possessions and income in determining social position. The word 'class' comes to us from the Romans, who used the word to divide the population into a No. of groups for the purposes of taxation. However, Marx was the 1st person to give the concept of class a significant meaning. According to Marx, "classes emerge where the relations of production are a differentiated division of labour which allows for the accumulation of surplus products that can be appropriated by a minority grouping which thus stands in an exploitative relationship to the mass of producers." Marx usually uses the words 'herrschaft' and 'klassenherrschaft'. These in English can be translated as 'rule / domination' and 'class rule / class domination'. Marx's various analyses of class domination are all primarily directed towards the end of explaining the characteristic structure and dynamics of a bourgeois society and conceptual precision is secondary in importance to this over-riding focus of attention. ...read more.


All historical class societies show a more complicated system of relationships, which overlap the dichotomous access of class structure. Thus in bourgeois society, these complicating groupings are: i. Middle-class including small merchants and self-employed professionals such as doctors and lawyers. Marx believed that as the capitalist system evolved, the middle-class would eventually be crushed and forced into the proletariat (working class / wage labourers). ii. Marx excluded farmers and peasants from his conception of class because he believed that the drama of historical change would occur in the urban industrial area of capitalist societies, and rural people would play little or no part in shaping social change. The fact that communist revolutions have come in backward, rural societies rather than advanced industrial areas, is an embarrassment to Marxist theorists. iii. Finally, there is a heterogeneous cluster of individuals in the 'lumpenproletariat' who stand on the margins of the class system, because they are not wholly integrated into the division of labour. These are composed of thieves, criminals of all kinds living on the crumbs of society, vagabonds etc... The degree to which a class constitutes a homogenous entity is historically variable. Subordinate gradations exist in all classes. Marx himself distinguishes the division in the capitalist class between financial and industrial capitalists. According to Marx, the ordering of classes and the nature of class conflicts change considerably with the emergence of successive forms of society. ...read more.


In class societies, "the ruling ideas of every age are the ideas of the ruling class." An individual or group may develop ideas, which vary from the prevalent ideas of his age, but these views will not come into prominence unless they articulate with the interests held by the dominant class. Thus, many of the ideas, which were used in contructing machines during the industrial revoution, had bee known for years but their rapid application and spread only occurred when the expansion of capitalism generated the need for capitalists to augment production beyond what was possible through handicraft manufacture. Every new class, Marx states, achieves its domination only on a broader basis than that of he previously dominant class, whereas the opposition of the non-dominant class against the new ruling class later develops all the more profoundly and sharply. But this is only possible through the formation of an increasingly numerous class of property-less wage-labourers. Bourgeoisie society universalizes class relationships around a single class-division between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Its this that, in fact, provides for a fundamental difference between bourgeoisie and other forms of class societies which have preceded it whereas previous revolutionary classes, once they have acquired power, have sought to protect the position they have acquired by subjecting society at large to their conditions of appropriation. The proletariat cannot come to a position of domination except by abolishing its own previous mode of appropriation and thereby also every other previous mode of appropriation. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Sociology 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 GCSE Sociology essays

  1. A-Level Sociology Theory + Methods Revision.

    Phenomenological sociology is based on 2 rules. 1. The descriptive imperative - "telling it how it is" i.e. reality from the actors own perspective. 2. The constitutive imperative - showing the elements from which the subject is built up. Gaining a "stock of commonsense knowledge" which all actors possess and use to cope with the situations and experiences they encounter.

  2. Determining the Elite within Politics and the Judiciary.

    This definition was based on both the formal authority assigned to these positions and the social esteem and status that they all offer. However, with the centralisation of the political system over recent years, the power of individual MPs has declined.

  1. Karl Marx and Vladimir Ilich Lenin - look at their very similar views on ...

    Marx and Lenin argued that, since the bourgeoisie dominated the economy, it influenced the state to their advantage, hence the state could not act independently. Therefore it suppressed the working class, and the minority suppressed the majority. Marx and Lenin argue that a particular type of personnel dominates our state,

  2. Is class a useful concept in explaining social action? It has been argued that ...

    So as Gerth & Mills (1948) suggest, for Weber the term 'class' is used when a group have a similar "specific casual component" of their 'life chances', represented in economic terms by the possession of goods, financial opportunities and market conditions.

  1. Compare 'The Genius' by Frank O'Conor and 'The Son's veto' by Thomas Hardy considering ...

    Larry is willing to look strange and out of place, he doesn't care. Randolph is different because he does care, very much. He dearly wants to be accepted by society and wants to fit in. His mother brings him down as she is from a lower class, he is ashamed of her.

  2. Crime and Social class - Hypothesis - 'There is a relationship between social ...

    Greed Peer Pressure Alcohol Boredom Drugs Poverty Failure at school Parents lack of control What is the job of the main wage earner in your family? Have you ever been the victim of crime? Yes No Is there any police in your area?

  1. Socio-Economic Class

    The director of the film, Gary Marshall, uses the introduction of the film as a means of induction to the main characters. Through the use of juxtaposition, the social contrasts between the two main characters are established. Through scenery, the director of the film gives the underlying portrayal of the type of life that the two characters lead.

  2. Critically evaluate Marx’s analysis of social class.

    The two interests of these two classes were opposed and could not be solved within the confines of capitalism. This was one of the many contradictions that eventually lead to the replacement of capitalism by socialism. For Marx these irreconcilable interests were expressed in class struggle.

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