SOC 233 Sept 12, 2011
Marx – The Voice of the Worker
“Workers of the world unite; you have nothing to lose but your chains.”
Film: An Age of Revolutions
Understanding of French Revolution; people stood up for equality.
Overthrow the powerful through the masses.
Moved onto Industrial Revolution; capitalism and its influences; wealth created but not evenly
Harsh working conditions; owners prosper while poor suffer even more.
Working conditions and separate social classes made the marginalized groups “fight.”
Karl Marx – 1818-1883
Born in Germany, but lived in France during revolutions.
Collaborated with Engels.
Historical basis of inequality.
Inequalities can be resolved through social change.
Class conflict between proletariat (i.e., workers) and bourgeoisie (i.e., owners).
Social change is about CONFLICT between opposing interests, driven by economic forces.
1. Capitalism: Economic and political system in which large numbers of workers work to produce
commodities for the profit of a few capitalists.
Capitalism mediates social relationships of production; alienation and exploitation.
Economic – Things are being produced that are having a market value; people being paid to
produce; system of power which is not equally distributed.
Alienation: Lack of connection with other workers, owners and product produced.
Exploitation: Using one social class (i.e., lower) to gain profit.
2. The Dialectic
a. Contradictions between needs and desires of bourgeoisie which contradicts needs of worker;
struggles in society; change needs to be implemented through action.
b. Theory of Capitalism –The notion of inequality.
c. The Dialectical Method – Social values cannot be separated from fact and value.
Values cannot be kept out of our sociological theorizing - Marx suggests we shouldn’t
keep them out; our values should guide our theorizing.
Reciprocal Relations – How past shapes present, and how present lays seeds to future.
Structures can restrain and/or enable, but it is only through relationships that we can
gain insight. Changes on one side will have a change