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January 18th, 2011
Karl Marx discusses social class, and has invented the concept as it today
Bourgeoisie – Higher, capitalist class with power
Proletariat – Lower, working /controlled class
History is the history of class struggle and ideological clashing
A capitalist society is characterized by conflict, not harmony
In industrial societies, capitalism divides the population into two opposing
The working class has only three alternatives
oTo cooperate with the capitalists
oTo form unions and try to modify social conditions
oTo make revolutions
If one needs to eat to live, they need to work for someone else.
The elemental fact is that everyone needs to eat to live.
Whoever controls the means of production which enables people to
work to survive, they have immense power, enough to control life or
In every society, Marx and Engles argue that everyone’s position in
society is based upon their means of production; but means of
productions can change over time.
Differences in social position result from differences in people’s relations to the
means of production
At both ends of the class ladder, class stability over time is maintained by
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That is why poverty and wealth are self-perpetuating from one generation to the
oThere is a development of class cultures; value systems and lifestyles that
are characteristic of people in these social positions
oDominant ideology – the way of looking at the world that causes people in
lower classes to think of themselves as dominated, inevitable to achieve
equality. This is the ideology that the bourgeoisie use to continue their
dominance, and this is why it is difficult for proletariats to “cease history”
The main social institutions of society – including inheritance and even
education – ensure that the poor stay poor.
For Marx, a key question is how members of a social class can gain class
The question for Marx is, how does a class in itself become a class for itself?
oClass awareness means perceive that there are differences between rich
and poor, etc
oClass consciousness means understanding your class; what is is and what
it could be. Class interests, and understanding how to act upon these
The development of class-consciousness requires a transition from a class in
itself to a class for itself.
Marx does not put much faith in significant change through peaceful methods –
for example, unionization and the ballot box.
o“Rich or poor, black or white, we’re all Canadians” – this is an example of
false consciousness. Patriotism. The powerful use this patriotism to control
Marx argues that industrial capitalism carries the seeds of its own destruction.
Working and living conditions bring people together with others of the same class
and separate them from people of the opposition class.
In these shared living and working conditions, workers will develop a
consciousness of common interests rooted in relations to the means of
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