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Sociology (2,049)
SOCIOL 2S06 (310)
David Young (301)

7 Jan 10.docx

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McMaster University
David Young

Neo-Marxian Theory 1. Economic Determinism: economic system shapes all other aspects of society (i.e. political system, ideological system) - Was characteristic, and adopted by, early Neo-Marxian theory - Neo-marxian theory re-interprets, revises, and updates marx’s theoretical ideas. Capitalism changes since marx died - Early neo-marxists saw breakdown of capitalism as inevitable - Economic processes will destroy the system in the end 2. Marx & Economic Determinism - Marx was seen as an economic determinist but really was NOT an economic determinist - People thought marx was economic determinist cause Marx talked about dialectical materialism - Marx borrowed Hegel’s focus on Dialectic and Feuerbach’s focus on Materialism. This equals dialectical materialism - Marx saw problems in society stem from real, material conditions (i.e. existence of capitalism) - Marx argued solutions to these societal problems must be found in dialectical relationships (i.e. conflict between capitalists and workers) - Marx said proletariat will end capitalism, not capitalists. Thus, marx was NOT an economic determinists - Marx mostly saw Hegel’s subjective ideas of social life (ideas & ideology) which is what made him NOT economic determinist - Marx also saw, but not as much as subjective, the objective aspects of social life (economic, material conditions) which is what WOULD have made him economic determinist 1. Hegelian Marxism: theoretical approach that restores the dialectic to analysis of the subjective and objective aspects of society - Emerged as reaction to the note that marxianism is returning 2. Georg Lukacs: “History & Class Consciousness”, talking about reification & class consciousness a) Reification: view point involving treating social structures as if they have a life of their own - Marx’s concept of reification was the fetishism of commodities, arguing people in capitalist society produce various commodities. - People In capitalist commodities tend to lose sight of the fact that they themselves produced these commodities - Commodities used as “things” people need/desire. Independent existence apart from people. (i.e. smartphones used as “things” helping communication, not thought as a way of social life in society) - Fetishism of commodities: confined to the economic aspects of capitalist society - Reification applies to all other aspects of capitalist society (social structures i.e. the state, and media institutions). Reify these social structures because it somehow becomes separate from us (independent existence) b) Class Consciousness: belief system shared by those occupying same class position within society - Petty Bourgeoisie could NOT develop class consciousness. Has to do with Petty Bourgeoisise being in an ambiguous position because they don’t know if they fit into capitalist system, since they are in the middle between bourgeoisie and proletariat o Lukacs argued Bourgeoisie COULD develop class consciousness, and COULD recognize their position and unify around certain beliefs o Lukacs argued ONLY Proletariat have capacity to develop true class consciousness (class in itself to a class for itself) - Lukacs refused capitalism because appropriate set of ideas (subjective) in response to economic (objective) conditions - Lukacs considers dialectic in relation to subjective (ideas) & objective (economic conditions) 3. Antonio Gramsci: played key role in moving away from economic determinism, to neo-marxian positions - Earlier neo-marxists – Capitalist Economy o Coercion (force): would face police & army, trying to protect capitalism - Gramsci – Capitalist Ideology o Consent: working class gave its consent to (accepted) capitalist system o Working class came to accept system by Gramsci’s concept of Hegemony a) Hegemony: cultural leadership exercised by capitalist class - Hegemony exists when working class consents to capitalist system and its own domination by the capitalist class - Capitalists engage to work consent. Works in various ways, but here is 1 example: o Capitalist class presents its specific interests as being in general interest of everyone o Capitalist class may talk about Increased Profits (benefit everyone):  Better service, lower prices, healthier economy. b) Counter Hegemony: alternative ideology & culture that poses a challenge to the ideas presented by the capitalist class - Working class has to: o 1. Become conscious of its position within capitalist system o 2. Reject ideology presented by capitalist class o 3. Develop proletarian ideology & revolutionary strategy o 4. Spread this counter hegemony throughout society - Revolution can then begin 1. Critical Theory: German Neo-Marxists based at institution of social research at Frankfurt Germany. German neo-marxists rejected economic determinists and join The Frankfurt School 2. Critical Theory & Its Criticisms of Social & Intellectual Life a) Criticism of Neo-Marxian Theory – neo-marxists saw economic determinism in early neo- marxian theory - Frankfurt School went beyond economic determinism & looked at cultural society b) Criticism of Culture - (1) “Culture Industry” – Bureaucratic Organizations that control production of culture in capitalist society (i.e. publishing companies, movie studios, TV) o Members of Culture Industry were introduced to Mass Cultural Products; which were mindless entertainments that pacified working class & duped working class into accepting capitalist system - (2) Knowledge Industry” – controls production of knowledge in capitalist society (research institutes i.e. universities which are oppressive structures expanding their influence throughout society) c) Criticism of Positivism (Comte): system of thought recognizing only what can be scientifically verified or logically proved - Frankfurt School saw Positivism as critical because Positivism claims: o Science is neutral & “objective” o It’s possible to need human values out of scientific work - Frankfurt School said Positivism is NOT objective & should NOT be objective - Frankfurt members said social analysis must reflect opposition to capitalism & oppression 3. Major Contributions of Critical Theory a) Cultural Anal
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