Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other: Bourgeoisie and Proletariat” (Marx and Engels 1848). Social class, therefore, is based upon economic criteria and conflict occurs between those who own the means of production (bourgeoisie) and the wage-labourers (proletariat). As well as having economic control over the proletariat, the bourgeoisie also have the power to determine the superstructure; the ruling class can distort perceptions of the world and hide the true nature of social relationships and the exploitation of the proletariat and, above all, promote bourgeoisie interests. Marx defines production as workers selling their labour for wages in order to exchange money for commodities that will meet their most basic needs. As Marx
The proletariat is deemed as inferior and the bourgeois superior. This creates a class struggle. Marx attempted to find a solution of capitalist exploitation. Marx argued that exploitation emerged in capitalism because firstly, the laborers are completely deprived of human social relations, secondly they are forced to work for a meager wage , and thirdly the capitalists use their power arbitrarily. Exploitation is a matter of surplus value (profit).
Like Durkheim (a Functionalist), Marx believed it was possible to understand society scientifically and scientific knowledge would lead to a better society. However (unlike Durkheim), he believed capitalism would increase human misery before giving way to a classless, communist society, in which humans would be free to fulfil their potential. He believed that history would go through a series of base changes – primitive communism, ancient society, feudalism, capitalism and then communism. The organisation of production in a society shapes the nature of society – refers to this as the base/superstructure. According to Marx – in a capitalist society, the economic relationship of exploitation requires ideologies in the superstructure to cover up inequality – they are not innocent/neutral because they justify inequality and serve the interest of powerful groups.
Through this we have learned that as working class, we expect and accept that we will be exploited by the ruling class in terms of our surplus value. This is known as a crisis of Hegemony. They go on to say that we have internalised the DVS to such an extent that any other value system seems absurd, resulting in a state of false class consciousness. Marx believed that we will see a social revolution which will overthrow capitalism and replace it with true communism. Marxism sees religion as a feature which is only relevant in a society based on class division I.E the ruling classes and the working classes.
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.
Weber believed it was linked to the type of job people could get, Weber thought differently to Marx about this, as marx believed it was due to owning factories or other resources, and weber thought it was due to skills and qualifications. Weber’s idea of class influenced the ideas of other sociologists, such as goldthorpe (1980). Goldthorpe derived a stratification scale which includes the Weberian concept of market position. This was felt by sociologists to be a more accurate technique of studying stratification, as a pose to just studying peoples jobs. Weber was skeptical about the possibility of the working class bonding together for revolutionary purposes, for example becoming class-conscious because of differences in status would always undermine any common cause.
Assess the usefulness of Marxist approaches to an understanding of crime and deviance in contemporary society Marxist criminologists argue that the state passes laws which support ruling-class interests, and maintain its control and power over the subject class. They put forward the view that laws do not reflect value consensus, but instead reflect the values of ruling class ideology. Therefore, laws work towards false class consciousness, as laws only benefit the ruling minority. Many Marxists also argue that there are a vast number of laws protecting property, and Snider (1993) argued the state is often reluctant to pass laws which might threaten profitability. She also argued capitalist states often pour large amounts of money into attracting business; for example offering new investors tax concessions and grants.
I shall asses points for and against this argument and conclude. Karl Marx (a Marxist sociologist) believes that the education system preforms two main functions in a capitalist society. Firstly, Marx believes the education system reproduces the inequalities and social relations of production of capitalist society. In contrast, the government claim that the education system provides equality and education to all which surely would not serve to maintain a capitalist society. Marx’s first point suggests that education surely does not provide equality, this is for reasons being that education is a meritocratic institution that only benefits the student which conform with the desired qualities, such as doing as they are told and being high academic achievers.
The working class want the ‘things’ that they see the middle classes with but they can't afford them so they resort to crimes such as stealing as a means of getting what they want. The explanation the marxists would give about the cause of crime is the working class fighting back against oppression and making their own means of acquiring wealth and the life of luxury. Marxists have many explanations of what causes crime, Traditional Marxists say that capitalism causes crime, the term we use for this is criminogenic capitalism. Crime is created by the structure of the capitalist society, the ruling class exploit the working class as they own the means of production. The working class gain a desire for material things, but breaking the law may be the only way that they can acquire the consumer good that they desire.
Adam Smith was a well-known economist and philosopher, during the early eighteenth century. One of the earliest works published in economics was by Adam Smith in the “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations”. He believed in a system, where the market should be operated by self- regulation, now he is renowned today as the founding father of modern economics and capitalism. Although a century apart, similarly, Karl Marx also had a very outstanding reputation. As a political philosopher, Marx disapproved of the capitalist system; particularly on the way how production was run.