Wednesday, February 29th, 2012
Sociology of Law – Marx and Law – Lecture 6
o Born in 1818 in Trier, Germany
o Family was well-off
Grandfather was a rabbi
Father was a successful lawyer
o Studied law in Bonn and philosophy at U of Berlin
Acquainted with Wilhelm Hegel at a relatively early age.
o At 24, became an editor of a newspaper in Cologne.
o Radical views against Tsar Nicholas I, and censorship forced him to
flee to Paris, France.
Married to Jenny von Westphalen
Journalist in France; got kicked out of France
o Expelled from France/lived in Belgium
o Returned to France and expelled again
o Settled in London, England for remainder of life (until death in 1883)
Ironically ended up settling in the centre of industrialism and
o Lived in poverty, except for support from friend and collaborator,
Friedrich Engels, the son of a wealthy textile manufacturer.
o His wife and three children predeceased him.
Lived on welfare for the majority of his life, with occasional
help from Engels.
o Spent most of his time in the British Museum.
o Born in Germany, 1820 – 1895
o Father was a wealthy mill owner
o Young Hegelian – exile in England.
o Supported Marx financially,
o Finished last two volumes of Capital
o Wrote Condition of the Working Class in England (1845)
Argued in this text that street crime and crime by the working
class was a form of survival adaptation to the conditions under
which they lived and worked.
Some of the first sociological ethnography in poor
A Sociology of Law
o Unlike Weber, Marx never developed a formal sociology of law.
However, he is one of the three main classical theorists in
His theories have been suppressed and censored traditionally.
For human rights law or global law, he provides important
In the sociology of law, Marx is one of the few theorists who
have an explanation for the existence of structural poverty.
o Marx was more interested in political economy.
o Law was a subordinate issue.
o A more fully developed sociology of law emerges from neo-Marxist
scholars, such as Evgeny Pashukanis (1924)
o Whenever you do sociology or criminology, don’t assume that history
o In the late 1500s, there was a movement from feudalism to mercantile
capitalism and the factory.
o Widespread poverty and inequality followed.
o Development of currency and wage labor.
o Early urban riots, labor unrest.
o Institutionalization of private property.
o Ownership of mode of production.
Capital (land, cash, machinery, distribution)
o Bourgeoisie and proletariat.
o Wage labor primary among workers.
Wage labor is forced.
o Commodification of goods and services.
Beginning of consumerism as we know it today.
o Social existence (material) determines Man’s consciousness (culture
Mode of Production key
o Property relations are key to understand class stratification.
o Concentrated on mercantilism and manufacturing = division of labor
o The reason that owners pursue a decreased labor cost is to increase
their profit margins.
o Profits for owner = labor value above what it actually takes to produce
o Profit consists largely of difference between wage labor and surplus
value from sales (e.g. productivity)
Marx considered this a form of exploitation.
Unpaid labor, in effect.
And forced labor (to survive)
o In other words, the owners and bourgeoisie are stealing profits that
would without them be split by the workers.
o Need for reserve force of workers (surplus population) to keep wage
If there are always people wanting jobs, then there is no
problem with losing workers, for there are always more to
Furthermore, division of labor makes work easier and
more simple, meaning workers are easily replaced and
Marxism as Methodology
o Emphasizes historical materialism
o Primacy of mode of production
o Relationship between state, law, and capital
o Look at interests and power (class conflict)
o Both law and state used by the ruling class to maintain their rule and
control over the working class.
Promote and protect market interests.
o Law is “simply class rule”.
o “The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing
the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie”.
Critique of Instrumentalism
o Ignores impact of labor bargaining.
o Laws on safety, environment, human rights that are not in the
interests of the ruling class.
Yes, if they help maintain a basic market.
o There are conflicts among rulers, state agents, and elites.
o The state is not simply a tool for capitalists.
o So as to protect “long term” interests of capital, state must
occasionally act against the short-term interests of the ruling classes.
o State assumes “neutral” ideological role.
Evgeny Pashukanis (1891 – 1937)
Soviet jurist and Sociology of Law theorist during the revolution in Russia.
Published Law and Marxism: A General Theory (1978)
Lived during Stalin era
Deemed an enemy of the people by Stalin
Disappeared in 1937 never to be seen again
Commodity Exchange Theory
Developed by Pashukanis
Use-Value: exchange of goods or services for direct use, i.e. barter, social and
religious support, family sustenance.
Exchange-Value: goods and services have a commoditized value ($$).
Currency becomes important in facilitating exchanges.