Marxist theories of religion relates mainly on how religion helps dominate the Bourgeoisie within the society by the Proletariat. The division of the two classes where the Middle class who owns the means of production, exploits the labour of Working class in the capitalist society. There are many ways whereby Marx replicates his theories against religion whether it has created a positive or negative societal effect. Other perspectives such as Functionalism and Feminism criticises Marx’s values according to the different roles of religions. Firstly, Marx argues that religion is portrayed as an ideology where there’s a set of ideas and values, in other words, a belief system that disadvantages the Working class as they become exploited.
Marxist believes that society is in a state of conflict between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. They say that the capitalist bosses exploit the working class in order to keep the rich- rich and the poor- poor. Engels (1891) highlights this in society. He explains that the family remained monogamous in order for families to find a rightful heir to inherit private property. This meant that the divide between the rich and the poor increased.
Traditional Marxists argue that our society is split into two bases- the economic base and the superstructure. The economic base is the means of production, this consists of all the factories and machines that Marx argued determined the ideas of society and shape the superstructure. The superstructure consists of the social, cultural, political and ideological parts of society, Marx argued that the superstructure maintains and legitimizes the base. Marx argued that this organisation of production and society profoundly shapes the nature of society. Marx argues that the ideologies in the superstructure cover up the inequalities of society; he argues that these ideologies justify inequality because they are not neutral and therefore they serve the interests of the ruling class.
Some sociologists would say that society does exist in a state of conflict, they would support this with views of feminism and Marxism. However other sociologists may argue that society exists in a state of consensus, where everyone is in agreement, this is known as functionalism. Marxism is a description of how the world is, and an ideology of how Karl Marx thought the world should become. Marxism explains that there is inequality between the classes; the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Marxists believe the ruling class (bourgeoisie) have all the power and wealth over the working class (proletariat).
So Marx and Engels believed that the working and middle class should overthrow the upper class from power. The Marxist perspective believes that the working and middle class should run the government, and then everyone would be paid equally and be given equal chances at school. Their idea was also to make sure that no one business was becoming powerful enough to make the smaller businesses become redundant. Marxism can be explained like a house. For example, the economy is the foundations, and society is the building on top.
He does this through two types of apparatus; repressive state apparatus – the physical control through institutions such as the justice system and military - and ideological state apparatus – the control over the way the Working Class think. The Ruling Class pass on their ideas and beliefs through institutions such as the family, religion and education. Althusser believes that education has replaced religion as the most important ideological state apparatus, and the Working Class are essentially forced to fail and end up taking low status, low paid work roles, while the Ruling Class go to the top of the pile, attending university where they are trained to fill their Ruling Class roles. Bowles and Gintis researched school in the USA, and concluded that the role of education is the reproduction of the workforce, often referred to as Correspondence Theory as they believe that there is a link between education and the world of work. They believe that education is a ‘myth making machine’ designed to justify inequality by promoting the idea that failure is due to lack of hard work rather than injustices and inequalities within the capitalist society.
They overlook, race, religion social background, gender and age with the strict understanding that where you reach on the social ladder is entirely dependent on the work and effort you put in. On the other hand, Marxism is understood as the theory and practice of working class self-emancipation. Marxists believe that there are two classes; the Bourgeoisie and the proletariat where class membership depended upon ownership (Bourgeoisie) or non-ownership (Proletariat) of the means of production. These two social classes depend upon each other as a means of employment or as a source of profit. Functionalists however, believe society works in a similar way to a human body.
Postmodernist claim that we have entered a new postmodern phase which is fragmented and more diverse. Assess the contribution of Marxism to our understanding of the role of education Marxists take a class conflict approach. They see social institutions such as the education system as serving the needs of capitalism and it reproduces class inequality and plays an ideological role by persuading exploited workers that inequality is justified and acceptable. Althusser sees education as an ideological state apparatus that keeps the bourgeoisie in power as they control the state. Capitalists are able to control people’s ideas, beliefs and values and they are also able to suppress the working class via the police and courts.
Outline the postmodernist view of the role of Education Postmodernists take a diversity approach when considering the role of education. They argue that the Marxist view is outdated and that society has entered a new postmodern phase. Marxists believe that capitalism cannot function without a workforce that is willing to accept exploitation. They also see education as reproducing and legitimating class inequality. Postmodernists reject this view of Marxism, that we still live in a two-class society and the claim that education reproduces class inequality.
I believe this can be strongly tied into the Marxist ideas of commodity fetishism and false consciousness as the culture industry creates repressive and alienating effects through products and commodities. The theory of commodity fetishism basically states that people experience social relationships as value relations between things. False consciousness is a theory that states that material and institutional processes in capitalistic societies basically mislead the lower and working classes through the power of capitalism. It seems as if people within capitalistic societies allow their lives to be organized or controlled through the medium of commodities. We trade our own commodities (such as labour) for a special commodity: money.