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Lecture

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Department
Sociology
Course
SOC101Y1
Professor
Jasmin Hristov
Semester
Winter

Description
Evolution of Political Sociology • Traditionally focused on govt., state, election, but – Problem, because: o Power is present in all social relations o Institutions and actors that are outside the state seem to be autonomous yet they exercise some interest on the state o Class based political parties are no longer significant e.g. social movements that are organized differently, i.e. not class identified– e.g. social movements focused on gender • = New social movements theory and post-modernism broadly speaking = power is no longer the central source of power in the state • Questions they ask: if power is everywhere, how can we resist it? Should we resist it or accept it? What degree of power does everybody have? Common’s MisconceptionsAbout Marx’s Theories • In the transition from Marx’s work to Marxists, there were distortions, simplification, and misunderstandings ▯ Scholars critique the “work of Marx” but really they critique the Marxists, not Marx ▯ Professors write books on reading works of Marxist scholars, not reading and understanding Marx’s original work = Vulgar Marx (distortion of Marx’s work) • “The working class are the factory workers” o Assumption: Today, there are not many factor∴es no working class o BUT, working class is not based on where you work or how much you earn • “Marx was an economic determinist” i.e. Capitalism will be replaced by communism o Assumption: Marx claims economy determines everything in society (politics, social relations) o But this does not appear anywhere • “Marx said capitalism will collapse and communism will replace it – did not happehe was wrong” o He did write that there will be an “eventual” revolution (predictions) o BUT, they are focusing on predictions when most of his work is his analysis of capitalism, not the creation of communism • “Communism is the same as socialism” o Socialism: society where there is a state but there is equality in terms of access of resources and distribution of wealth – big resources belong to the state – no large private companies o Communism: hypothetical society – in this world, there is no state because all are equal  If all states are made up of social societies, then it will transition to a communism (no state)  No government = no coercive apparatus that is associated with it o E.g. China – named itself communist but actually practiced socialism – now it is capitalist Marx: • First question he asked in order to write his theories: What is the most important thing that distinguishes humans from animals? –focus on something empirical (beyond communication): o Our ability to use/modify natural resources to satisfy our basic needs for survival = PRODUCTION o Humans don’t do it alone – they do it together o = Social relations are created to produce things o => production = social o Society is born in the process of production • Today, production is removed from sociology as they assume that production is economic Marx’s Method for Studying Society Historical Materialism • In order to make history, we need to live – but in order to live and survive, we need to produce materials (water, food, clothing, shelter etc.) • If we talk about the social, we cannot ignore questions related to the material production of life o E.g. Marxist analysis: a woman can live in an abusive relationship because she has no economic independence/ personal income – not excluding other factors • MATERIAL=SOCIAL Dialectical • 2 things effect each other mutually and constantly, and they evolve as they effect each other • The system is always in flux; societies are not fixed structures, change is always underway. The Usefulness of Marxist Political Economy for Understanding Society • The type of society we live in depends on how production is organized • Technology alone does not determine the kind of society ▯ because the way technology is used depends on relations between people and how humans want to use it • E.g. if we create a new resource, is everybody allowed to use it? Key Components Of Marxist Political Economy Means Of Production •The resources by which you can produce other things •Raw materials, tools, labour •E.g. a taxi driver is a means of production because you are providing/producing a good/service Relations Of Production •Relationships of use, control, and ownership over the means of production and their products •Who owns/control the means of production, who can access it? •Relations of Production=Social Relations Mode Of Production •The system of means of production and relations of production •Conditions the social political and intellectual life process in general •The political and legal structures in any society correspond to the mode of production •E.g. capitalism, communism, socialism, etc. When We Deconstruct The Production Process ThroughAMarxist Political EconomyApproach We Pay Attention ToThe Following: • Property /Access and control over the means of production • The labour process o How much freedom or lack of it do people have over the work they perform? • The products of labour o What happens to the products of labour? Do you get to keep it because you produced it or do you give it to someone else to sell? o Who gets to decide what to produce? Are they based on demand, human well being, or are they prioritized based on profit? Three Requirements for the Functioning of Capitalism • Resources: natural resources • Labour: people to convert the natural resources • Markets: consumers; people to buy the goods we produce • = if these are the prerequisites, then these 3 conditions must be readily available, thus, we need to ask how these 3 things needed to be present and available for capitalism to emerge Transition from Feudalism to Capitalism • Western Europe /Britain 1400-1700s (started in 14 century but really took force in 17 century during industrial revolution) • Kings ▯ land owners ▯ serfs • Landlords did not have absolute property on land as it was given by the king • Serfs had legal right to own a part of the landlord’s land in exchange for certain conditions • e.g. work on the land owner’s land • e.g. produce (grow tomatoes and give a % to the landlord) • e.g. money (you grow and sell tomatoes and give a certain % to the landlord) • Landlord was responsible for the Serfs and cannot kick them out unless they break their obligations • LAND was the most important resource for capitalism because it was a guaranteed livelihood • 1400s – first emergence of capitalism • Collapse of feudalism to capitalism farm • Now on the farm, there were specialization and commercial crops, not for subsistence • = serfs evicted from their land = no guaranteed livelihood ▯ serfs replaced by wage labourers • IMPROTANT – conditions = workers can no longer live on the land because work was for certain hours, during certain days = seasonal work = travel to urban lands • = Serfs: where can we live since we don’t have land to build a house and how can we eat when we don’t have a land to produce the goods? • To rent a house and buy food, we need money = we need income • Commons (public lands) were privatized • Expropriation of the direct producers (serfs and independent peasants)-i.e. separation of the workers from their means of subsistence • Creation of landlessness =people with no other means of survival but to become wage labourers = primitive accumulation • The acceptance of such a controlled schedule was not easy and foreign ideas but the new capitalist system required disciplined labour = contention Mechanisms for dealing with resistance to capitalist development Legal: • Law itself now becomes the instrument by which the people’s land is stolen • Eviction of peasants + privatization of the commons + criminalization of poor (who did not serve a function in the capitalist system – e.g. beggars) + criminalization of unions + creation of Poorhouses / Workhouses (using people as slaves) • land ▯ commercial commodity = extending the area of large-scale agricultural production + increasing the supply of free and right less proletarians …’ Violence: • Serfs forcibly expropriated from their homes, turned into vagabonds, and then whipped, branded, and tortured by grotesquely terroristic laws into accepting the discipline necessary for the system of wage-labour • Imprisonment + Physical punishment • Coercion as a state apparatus was necessary to make sure people would become labourers + to accelerate the accumulation of capital by increasing the degree of exploitation of labour Ideology: • Marx’s concept of Ideology – creating a body of ideas that explains and justifies reality for people ▯ “The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas” • Gramsci’s concept of Hegemony - form of political power that operates primarily through consent but also through coercion; (first convince, then if that does not work, use force) • Connection between the two - the dominant group expresses its narrow interests in universal terms as if they are in the interests of all. PrimitiveAccumulationAccomplished Three Things • Availability of land/resources • Availability of people with no other way to survive but to sell their own labour • Availability of market/consumers since people were no longer producing their means of subsistence __________________________________________________________________________ PrimitiveAccumulation • 2 Types of primitive accumulation: o Process of transition – limited to a particular epoch in time (e.g. from feudalism to capitalism) – in this case it is the separation of people from the land – for this separation to occur, it required legal and violence based mechanisms o Ongoing mechanism – it is not tied to a particular period – capitalism needs to continually engage in strategies of primitive accumulation in order to recreate the basis that it needs to survive • Capitalism requires labour, resources, and markets while primitive accumulation provides labour, resources and markets ∴ capitalism requires primitive accumulation • Formal definition of P.A. is the systemic of capitalism – it is the separation of direct producers from their means of subsistence through violent and legal mechanism o i.e. when people own their means of production, they control their means of subsistence, but in P.A., it is forcefully taken away • Differences between means of production and means of subsistence: o Direct producers: people who are directly working with the means of production – I can own a land and it can produce apples, but I am not a direct producer, those that pick it are the direct producers – I am only a producer o When surfs owned their land, it was not only their means of production but also their means of subsistence – when you own the means of production, you own the means of subsistence o When you are just labourers – your labour is your means of subsistence – your livelihood depends on your labour power or your ability to work • Land Grabs – another term for primitive accumulation or forced disposition o The central characteristic of the global political economy o Small-scale, diversified producers o Diversity – to not exhaust the soil, providing their family needs and providing locals with food to prevent them from imported food o When land is transferred from small-scale producers to large-producers: large-producers exhaust the and pollute the soil + no soil left to create local food = locals turn to imported foods which is more expensive + subject to the fluctuating international food market prices = poorest people affected o Since large–scale producers produce cheaper goods, selling it on the local market will be much more competitive and profitable than small-scale producers = small-scale producers cannot compete Key Characteristics of the Capitalist Mode of Production Private Ownership over means of production: no equal ownership – i.e. some own them, most don’t Commodity Production: produced to be sold on the market for profit Presence of 2 principle classes: • Owners of means of production and labourers + subjection of one class under another • Class is a group of people that share the same kind of relationship to the means of production • It doesn’t have to do with your work / salary according to Marx – it only has to do with your relation to means of production • 3 scenarios: o Capitalist: owners of means of production (hire others to work for you o Self-employed: owners of means of production and you work on them o Labourer: don’t own means of production and thus need to work for others • Both classes are heterogeneous o Labourers: skilled labour = higher wages / unskilled labour = lower wages o Capitalist: family business vs. large-scaled producers • But, a larger portion of labourers makes less money than the larger portion of capitalists – capitalists have the tendency to polarize – i.e. disappearance of middle-class = unequal relation means there is a tendency to push wages down so the capitalist can increase its profits • Mobility upward or downward: possible, but does not diminish classes CapitalAccumulation • Process where by capital grows through production + by selling products to appropriate surplus value • Labour produces capital (but capital is appropriated by the owners of the means of production not the owners of labour) = goes hand in hand with EXPLOITATION Exploitation: • The extraction of surplus-value from the worker by the owner of the means of production • Under capitalism, labour is a commodity over which the labourer has no ownership • Necessary labour: whatever amount of time is necessary to produce the value of their subsistence • Surplus Labour: the rest of the time spent in working over a worker’s necessary labour • Surplus Value: the value assigned to the surplus labour done = Privately appropriated by the owners • = Owner: you need $60 to survive but I need you to work to produce $600 in surplus value, then the owner will pay you $6 per hour so you can work 10 hrs to produce your necessary sustenance but the producer appropriates the surplus value that you have created = exploitation • Rate of Exploitation: surplus labour to necessary labour • EXAMPLE: o Necessary Labour: $60 (for survival) = 1 hour (needed) to make $60 (worth of clothes) o Surplus Labour: 10 H (total work day) – 1 H = 9H o Surplus Value: $540 (10 hrs.) o Rate of Exploitation: 10 Hours : 1 Hour • For public service workers – nobody is privately appropriated because the surplus value that is realized is a publicly appropriated, not privately Class and Exploitation: Myths and Reality • Earning enough money to buy stuff I want = not working class • “Exploitation applies only to factory workers or heavy jobs involving physical labour” • “Whether or not you are exploited depends on how your boss treats you”. • “If I have high income I am not exploited” o Rate of exploitation for a higher income earner is larger than a minimum wage earner because higher income earner produces a larger value (people are willing to pay more for them) but a larger share is also then privately appropriated by the owners of production The Role of the State under a Capitalist Mode of Production • “The production of ideas, of conceptions, of consciousness, is directly interwoven with the material activity and the material intercourse of men” • State, under capitalism, is an instrument that ensures the dominance of the capitalist class by securing the conditions necessary for capital accumulation – mainly making possible: o Expropriation of the direct producer – state provides law and armed force to achieve P.A. o Protection of private capitalist property OR protection of private ownership of means of production -
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