Marxism and Inequality - stcmsoc

Marxism and Inequality - stcmsoc

Marxism and Inequality http://www.youtube.co m/watch?v=1ztVeUX8Hp o Test the Teacher! Look up some key words in your booklets, give me a definition and see if I can guess them.

How do Marxists view inequality? Read the summary of Marxs view of society on page 2 of your booklets. What two forms of control does Marx refer to? Which of these is the most powerful according to Marx?

Antonio Gramsci Gramsci used the term hegemony to describe a culture in which the values of the ruling class become the common sense ideas of a whole culture. People who are part of the working class accept these ideas and instead of challenging the rich, accept their right to rule and to make important

decisions for the rest of us. He saw religion as being one of the most important forms of mental control because it teaches people that they should seek reward in heaven and not equality on earth. Louis Althusser Althusser claimed that in our society a series of institutions exist whose purpose is to train us to accept the ideas of

capitalism. He identified these institutions such as the family, the media, the education system and religion as being part of the Ideological State Apparatus. Their purpose is to work together to create obedient citizens. Althusser also noted the role of Repressive State Apparatus. These are the institutions that impose order, such as the justice system, the police, the law and the army. Inequality exists because the state trains people to accept the ideas that make them slaves to the

system. Checking understanding Answer questions 1-6 in booklets. Discuss answers. How has Marxism influenced politics in Britain? Socialists believe that capitalism creates

inequality; it concentrates all the power and wealth into the hands of a very small number of people. These are the oligarchy. Socialists argue that we all need to work for a fair society in which there is equal access to wealth and power. In 1945, the Labour Party was elected to

power under the leadership of Clement Atlee. It had a strong socialist agenda and policies that would change the nature of the British state. This government set up legislation to set up the Welfare State: education, benefit systems, the Health Service, pensions and unemployment payment.

1n 1997, the Labour Party was re-elected in a landslide victory for Tony Blair. Many people hoped that this would see an end to New Right policies, but in reality, very little changed and many of the policies of the previous conservative government were carried on through into the new government. Whilst the extreme growth in inequality of the early years of Mrs Thatcher's government has

been slowed, inequality is still rising slowly. Task Read booklets and summarise labour policies that have affected inequality. Identify at least two areas where inequality is experienced that have been addressed. Discuss answers

What is the Marxist Perspective on class? Marxists, more than any other perspective, embrace the concept of social class. Karl Marx said all societies (with the exception of primitive hunter/gatherers) are divided along class lines. Rather than defining class by occupation, Marx adopted an economic definition based on people's relationship to the means of production. According to Marx

there are always just two classes. The dominant class own the means of production (factories, mines, mills etc.) whereas the subordinate class owns nothing except its labour power. This is known as a dichotomous or two-part view of society. False (class) consciousness occurs because economic power leads to political and social power. The economically dominant class is

also the ruling class and shapes society through developing ideas (bourgeois ideology) through education, politics and especially the media that reflect their interests. Neo-Marxism Why has Neo-Marxism developed as a perspective in Sociology?

Neo-Marxism Erik Olin Wright says that managers and supervisors have factors in common with the bourgeoisie since they are responsible for controlling the workforce in a way that maximises the return for capital, yet at the same time, they are employees and as wage slaves are subject to exploitation by capital. The self-employed do not have wage slave status

but are vulnerable to the exploitation by the capitalist class (bourgeoisie). Small employers may be viewed as small capitalists and exploit the workers they employ, but Wright argued they too occupy a contradictory class location because they are vulnerable to power of larger capitalists. Check understanding Answer question 13 -18 in booklets.

Evaluation Marx correctly predicted that the peasantry, a legacy of preceding feudal system, would become smaller and less relevant to the central conflict of the capitalist order. He said that the rich would get richer as the poor got poorer, and this is known as polarisation as the two classes moved away from

each other in terms of power and wealth. However, the greatest flaw in his analysis is a failure to foresee the growth of a middle class. Evaluation Weberian sociologists would argue there is a crucial status difference between middle-class managerial and professional workers and the

manual workers of the working class. Sociologists have written in-depth of cultural differences between the social classes in terms of values, attitudes and behaviours. Evaluation The development of capitalism has not confirmed polarization and dichotomisation,

but rather within the twenty-first century the sub-division and splitting up of classes (fragmentation and diversification) that Max Weber predicted. Evaluation Postmodernists go even further, talking about the death of class altogether as a meaningful

concept. Finally, feminists have criticised Marxist analysis as 'malestream' seeing class exploitation as the key issue that ignores other forms of exploitation, such as gender and race, as invisible. Evaluation

The work of neo-Marxists, Braverman and Wright have gone some way to address the criticisms of the traditional Marxist approach to class by recognising the intermediate and contradictory position of the middle classes.

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