Assess the Marxist views of society (33 marks)
When looking at the Marxists views of society there are three main theorists to look at, Marx, Gramsci and Althusser. All of these theorists focus on how capitalism has been maintained in many societies and how eventually it will be over thrown. Both Gramsci and Althusser’s ideas originate from the works of Karl Marx who, unlike functionalist Emile Durkheim, saw no evolutionary progress of society but a gradual change in which capitalism would increase human misery.
Marx suggested that capitalism needed to replaced by ideas such as communism. He looked at historical materialism and suggested that our society is altered by forces of ...view middle of the document...
He argues this has come from the bourgeoisie being too greedy and creating too larger between the two classes. This is criticised highly as in western societies the middle class has actually increased in size, not been swallowed up the working class. However largely proletariat countries like China and India are growing as a result of globalisation. Gramsci suggests a dual consciousness, they can see through ideologies to some extent, as shown by Paul Willis’ The Lads study.
Gramsci suggests capitalism has been maintained through hegemony, the ruling class keeps its leadership in society through use of ideas to prevent revolution by winning consent of the lower classes. He says that hegemony of the ruling class is never complete because the ruling class are a minority, they need to create a power bloc with their allies, the middle class, and make compromises ain ideologies to take into account the allies. Along with this is the dual consciousness, the idea that their ideas are influenced by material conditions as well as the bourgeoisie.
Althusser rejects humanism because the sense of free will and choice is an illusion (false class consciousness) everything is merely a product of social structures. Gramsci believes that people use their reason and free will to change their society- capitalism will be overturned by consciously choosing to over throw capitalism.
Althusser suggests the state performs political and ideological functions that ensure the reproduction of capitalism. There are two apparatuses, Repressive State Apparatus what are called the ‘armed bodies of men’ (army, police and courts) these keep the working class in line and complying with the bourgeoisie. Ideological State Apparatus these are things like the family and education that produce pro-capitalism ideas to manipulate the working class. Similarly Gramsci had a theory on this matter he referred to the RSA as ‘coercion’ (force to accept rule) and ISA as ‘consent’ (ideas and values) these are his suggestions for the way the bourgeoisie secure the dominance over the proletariat.
Marx believes that our true nature is based on our capacity to create things to meet our needs. Alienation is the loss over control over our jobs...