Week 5 Readings
1) Economic Determinism
- Refers to monocausal determinism by material, economic factors
- Dialectical materialism allows for more flexibility and may even include a
- Closely related is economic reductionism – emphasis is placed on the idea that the
economy is closely intertwined with all forms of the culture of consumerism
- Economic determinism – equally misleading, one-sided idealist determinism
2) Economic Development
- Concerned with how societies have, could, and should pursue improvement in the
quality and quantity of life for their inhabitants
- The politically and socially important pursuit of economic development continues
and involves academics, nation- states, regional and international organizations,
non-governmental organizations, and philanthropic foundations.
- Economic development theories were largely based on the belief that all societies
developed through a set of stages that ultimately would lead to a modern nation-
state and industrial economy.
3) Economic Sociology: Classical Political Economic Perspectives
- The science of the production, distribution, exchange and consumption of wealth
- Divided into two intertwined branches: pure economics as the theory of the
market economy and social economics or economic sociology as an analysis of
the social-institutional conditions of the economy, including markets
- Classical political economy’s perspective on economic sociology examines the
influence of social conditions on economic life.
- Classical political economy also analyzes the class structure of the economy
- Classical political economy also examines the social conditions of production and
consumption, such as the impact of the division of labor on economic productivity
- Some classical economists also recognize the social and cultural conditions of
human preferences or tastes and wants and their variety and change
- Marx traces human wants and pleasures to the process of societal formation and
historical evolution in that they have their sources in society endowing them with
a social nature
4) Bourgeoisie and Proletariat
- ‘‘Bourgeois’’ began as a twelfth-century, French, juridical term designating
citizens or freemen in a city or burgh.
- ‘‘Proletarians’’ origin- ally identified the poorest Roman citizens who had no
resources other than their children
- A noun referring to the funds individuals or corporations use as the basis for
- Representing a system where capital is advanced to increase wealth
- Capitalism may refer to an economic, political and/or social system (e.g. feudalism, capitalism, communism), a broad historical period, or specific forms
within that period (e.g. mercantile, industrial, finance, monopoly, or late
- Capitalism is a system that provides for needs and wants, animated by a particular
ethos, coordinated and organized by established practices, regulations, and laws,
privileging particular types of knowledge (e.g. scientific, technical, and
- First, capitalism exists when ‘‘the provision of everyday wants’’ is met through
capitalist enterprise. The whole economic system would collapse if those
enterprises ceased their productive activities
- Second, capitalism depends on rational calculation and precise accounting
- Third, capitalism presupposes an enduring, predictable legal system
- Fourth, capitalism presupposes the presence of individuals ‘‘who are not only
legally in the position, but are also economically compelled, to sell their labor on
the market without restriction’’
- Finally, capitalism requires the complete commercialization of economic life
where the primary goal is gaining and expanding economic advantage while
building commercial wealth.
- Capitalism requires the personal, internal control of individuals’ actions, along
with institutional regulation
- Capitalism’s social impact and its analytical ethos provided the substance and
form for sociology to develop as an empirically based, theoretic- ally informed,
- ‘‘Communism’’ is both a principle of social organization advocated since at least
the time of ancient Greece, and a modern political movement – associated with
the works of Karl Marx (1818–83) and his disciples – that held state power in a
number of countries during the twentieth century
- The key difference between ‘‘communism’’ and ‘‘socialism’’ is that the abolition
of private owner- ship to produce equal distribution was the central prescription of
the former, while conscious and rational organization of economic activity to pro-
duce abundance is basic to the latter.
- Marx harnessed communism to the emerging industrial working class in a
historical story of class struggle reaching its ultimate stage in the clash between
proletarians and capitalists.
- If communism is not a serious model for an alternative social and political system,
it remains a moral beacon for those frustrated by rampant individualism and
disgusted by the increasing com- modification of life in market societies.
- Socialism refers to those practices and doctrines based on, and emphasizing the
benefits of, collective property, social equality, human cooperation and communal
forms of economic and political association.
- Although Marx never outlined any blueprints for a socialist society, there are
three key sources that illuminate his views on the socialist future and the transition from capitalism to socialism.
- Socialist feminists, for example, pointed to the gendered assumptions on which
many welfare policies were based, and to the very different implications of
welfare state policies for working class and middle class women.
8) Industrial Revolution
- Rapid increase in the use of machines powered by inanimate forms of energy
(waterfalls, wind, coal, oil, or electricity) that be