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Lecture 17

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David Young

Fox 1 Lecture 17 SOCIOL 2S06 Thursday November 14, 2013  The Frankfurt School and Early Neo-Marxism A. What is Neo-Marxism theory: it attempts to reinterpret, revise or update Marx’s theoretical ideas so the better explain development in capitalist society B. Approaches Within Early Neo-Marxian theory - He died in 1883 and Neo-Marxism began after - Covers the period through the 1890s-1940s - There were at least 3 different theoretical approaches developed over this period - Under the impression Marx was an economic determinism o They thought capitalism would breakdown or self-district based on problems in the economy 1. First approach was economic determinism - What is economic determinism? The assumption that the economic system shapes all other aspects of society: such as, political, ideological system o The economic determines the political and ideological a. The impact of economic determinism on neo-Marxism o Had a significant impact o It characterised from about 1889-1914 o Early neo-Marxism saw the breakdown of capitalism inevitable o The idea was that there was processes built right into the economic structure of capitalism  The processes would eventually lead to the end of capitalism  The economic aspects of capitalism would lead to its end o With the economic changes and breakdown of capitalism economy, there would be political, ideological changes b. Its problematic interpretation of Marx o Why Marx was NOT an economic determinist o Hegel o Focused on dialectic- contradictions in society and when things clash, something new forms o Idealism-ideas and culture o Feuerbach o Materialism- focused on economic aspect of society o Marx was influenced by both o He synthesised aspects of their work and created dialectical materialism o Marx saw material conditions such as capitalism which was a source of problems o Forms inequality o He argued that solutions to these material conditions can be found in dialectical relationships o We have conflict and clashes between different classes in society o How did he put all this together? o Talks about modes of production  Feudalism to capitalism to socialism o The subjective and the objective o Subjective is ideals and ideology o Objective involves economic, material conditions o There could be conflicts between objective and subjective o He saw the importance of ideology (Hegel) o Marx was clearly not an economic determinism because he didn’t say capitalism was going to self-destruct. His argument was that we need to look at things dialectically and look at ideology ***This provides the foundation for everything that came after 2. Hegelian Marxism - Second approach - Hegelian Marxism was a reaction against economic determinism - Borrows heavily from Hegel and the ideas, ideology and culture - What was Hegelian trying to do o Trying to restore dialectic by considering both the subjective and objective aspects of capitalists society o This means that they did not lose sight of the importance of the economic, but while not losing sight, they focused on the impact of the ideological - There were a number of Hegelian Marxist- one by the name of Antonio Gramsci 3. Critical Theory - It too was a reaction to economic determinism of the very early neo-marxis - Like Hegelian Marxism, understood the importance of the dialectic - Critical theory also stresses the importance of ideas and culture - What is the difference and unique about critical theory? o Say reason and rationality as empowering o Reason and rationality were emphasized by the enlightenment thinkers - They were considered about how major social institutions in capitalist society supress the empowering role of reason and rationality - In particular, they were considered about mass media and schools - The mass media and schools do reflect lots of ideas and ideology and culture - The mass media and schools were reflecting ideas and culture that were preventing people from understanding the need to move toward an egalitarian/ democratic society o The culture, ideology through the mass media, schools was preventing us from seeing the need to move beyond capitalism towards something more democratic, just - Critical theory is associated with the Frankfurt School A Biographical Sketch of Antonio Gramsci A. Early Life - Born in 1891 in Italy - He was part of a large family- 7 children
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