"Assess the sociological contribution of Karl Marx to an understanding of contemporary society"
“Assess the sociological contribution of Karl Marx to an understanding of contemporary society”
This essay will discuss how the Karl Marx contributed his knowledge to the understanding of contemporary society. Karl Marx is often referred to as the ‘intellectual father of modern day Marxist economics’. Karl Marx was a philosopher, a social scientist and also a historian. He is also known as a revolutionary whose ideas and theories are known as scientific socialism or Marxism.
Marxism helps us to understand society and the way in which individuals within society behave and the reasoning behind this behaviour. Marx explained how employers can exploit and alienate their workers; this is described in more detail and is known as ‘the labour theory of value’. Marx also goes on to explain how in a business falling rate of profit can lead to an inevitable crisis, revolutions can emerge and then finally leading to the socialist state. Marx also goes on to explain that if workers start to earn more money and gain more wealth then he becomes poorer in values and the more his production increases in power and range of materialistic substances. One of Marx’s sayings to support this theory was “The worker becomes an ever cheaper commodity the more commodities he creates”.
Karl Marx was largely ignored by his scholars during his lifetime; however his theories and ideologies came to surface after his death during the labour movement. Now his theories regarding capitalist economy, historical materialism, class struggle and surplus are used as the basis of the socialist doctrine. Therefore it can be said that Karl Marx by developing Marxism has given us a much deeper understanding of society and socialism.
This is a preview of the whole essay
Marxism explains how the most fundamental part in any society is the economic part of that society. It is due to the economic part of society that all the other sections the social, cultural and political sectors of society function. All of these sectors are driven by the economic relations within society. It shows how all societies must produce their own means of subsistence and that the relationships present here are of the utmost importance. The relations between people involved in production and maintaining subsistence are the most fundamental within a society. Marxism describes how these relationships of production refer to the relationships that human beings develop and establish in order to satisfy the economic means of a society. It can be seen now that, capital is the most important factor in today’s society. Marx used the word Capitalism to describe this ‘economic production system’.
Capital does not just refer to money. Modern day production processes involve investment in goods, services and people this is also referred to as the capital. Wealth is also used in other ways than in the pre-capitalistic society. For example, a farmer after having produced for his own needs and that of his family will sell any of a surplus in order to buy the commodities they could not produce.
However in capitalism what happens is that this money is invested in order to make more money, and to make a profit. Capitalist individuals will invest in commodities such as buildings, tools and workers. For a farmer this may be an investment in a factory and new tools. The capitalist's employees are also taken into account as commodities together with the business. According to Marxism, the capitalist individual will invest in those people who will be of a benefit to him and will make a profit.
These commodities are necessary as they are the capitalist’s means of production which will ultimately provide a means of substance for the society.
Marxism explains how, the workers are alienated because they are simply an investment on the part of the capitalist and are not seen as individual people with their own perceptions and opinions. This group of employees are highly subject to exploitation to the fullest extent. This group of workers will produce a surplus value that will be added to the capitalist's profits. It will be this profit and not the needs of the individual workers which will determine the commodities that are produced as well as the manner in which people will be employed by the business. Only those will be employed who will ensure maximum production and therefore an increase in profit.
Therefore Marxism explains and it can be seen that in a capitalist society there will be two groups of people with differing interests. The individual who are employed as workers or ‘wage earners’. The workers will want to increase their wages and will work harder at their jobs to ensure higher wages; the group of capitalists are the second group who will want to increase profits. These two groups are involved in a class-conflict or class-struggle, although they both depend on each other for the business to run smoothly and ensure maximum production.
One of the theories in Marxism was that the function of the state in a capitalist society is to maintain the capitalist economy and to continue its existence by continually re-establishing the capitalist relation of production. In order to do this the norms and values of capitalist ideologies can be used in order to persuade people. This in turn increases and maintains production.
As I have mentioned before, The cultural, political and social aspects of a society rest upon the economic base. Therefore it can be said that in a capitalist society the state, culture and social institutions are also regarded as capitalist.
Marxism emphasises how capitalism will lead to conflict and would produce growing misery for workers as competition for profit leads capitalists to adopt labour-saving machinery and in effect creating an army of redundant or reserved unemployed workers. These workers would eventually rise up and seize the means of production, thereby creating workers revolutions.
Karl Marx went on to predict that capitalism would be ultimately destroyed by its own inherent contradictions and means of production, all of which would be self-inflicted.
Marx has helped us to understand how we all live in a world which has been shaped by the economic and social forces he identified. Now his work has also to a great extent the political forces of today all of which his work inspired. In my point of view It is no exaggeration to say that of all theorists of society Karl Marx is a revolutionary and has deeply touched and affected all our lives. Our modern political field reflects his ideologies and is under much of his influence. For example and were both profoundly affected by the challenge of Marxist movements. It can be said that as the political landscape undergoes further changes, Marxism will indefinitely be consulted to help shape society for the better.
Word count: 1495