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Chapter 4- Marx.docx

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Western University
Sociology 2240E
Charles Levine

Chapter 4- Karl Marx -perspectives on issues like alienation, globalization and the environment -his theory is an analysis of inequality under capitalism and how to change it -theory about proletariat revolution didn’t come true but theories often say what should happen -need to understand Hegel in order to appreciate Marxian conception of the dialectic -dialectical philosophy is the centrality of contradiction -dialecticians believe that contradictions exist in reality and way to understand reality is to study the development of those contradictions -Hegel says historical change is driven by the contradictory understandings -Marx said contradictions are solved by a life-and-death struggle that changes the social world ie: a contradiction within capitalism: the relationship between workers and capitalist owners, exploitation, alienation, etc. -in dialectical analysis, social values are not separate from social facts, they are undesirable in analysis of capitalist society, passionate views give insight to the society -to the dialectian, one factor may have an effect on another, the latter will have a simultaneous effect on the former -dialecticians interested in past, present and future social phenomena: 2 implications, one is concerned with studying historical roots of the world and two is interested in current social trends in order to understand possible future directions -dialectical view; future is not determined by present, no inevitabilities -Marx hoped for communism future, he knew it would only come through workers choices and struggles -model of the dialect: thesis, antithesis, synthesis ^this doesn’t work because in the real world, there are no inevitabilities -dialectician is interested in real relationships rather than grand abstractions -dialectical thinkers interested in relationship between actors and social structures, the relationship between people and large-scale structures they create, structures help people fulfill themselves also represent a threat to humanity -contradiction between human nature and way we must work in a capitalistic society -human nature varies historically and socially, therefore to understand it we need to understand social history -when talking of general human nature, he used the term ‘species being’- the potentials and powers that make us uniquely human -our concept of human nature dictates how society should be changed -concerned with relation between labor and human nature, what distinguishes us from other animals is our labor- our production reflects our purpose -objectification- process of creating external objects out of internal thoughts -labor is material, it transforms nature and ourselves (our needs, consciousness and nature) -labor is one: objectification of our purpose, two: establishment of relation between human need and material objects of our need, three: transformation of our human nature -satisfaction of our needs can lead to the creation of new needs (engine of human history) -for Marx, labor is the development of our truly human powers and potientials, labor is a social activity, labor doesn’t transform individual but it does society, also transforms our consciousness Alienation: -relation between labor and human nature is perverted by capitalism-calls it alienation -see work not as objectification but a means to an end ($) -alienated from labor and human nature -soc basis of alienation is the workers are forced to sell their labor time to capitalists -not voluntary, forced labor -people only feel free in their animal functions ie: eating, drinking and having sex -4 components of alienation: 1. Alienated from their productive activity- little sense of role in production process (production line) 2. Alienated from the product- product they made does not belong to them, it is the capitalists private property 3. Alienated from their fellow workers- forced to work in isolation and competition 4. Alienated from their human potential- don’t feel fulfilled or ourselves at work -alienation can only be resolved by real social change -Germany imposed capitalism resulting in poverty, dislocation and alienation because of the rapidity of change -capitalist economic system is the primary cause of alienation -capitalism is a political system, economic system, mode of exercising power and a process for exploiting the workers -capitalism hurt by inflation because the money they accumulated goes down in value, yet the poor hurt the most because they are the first to lose their jobs Commodities: -commodities are products of labor intended primary for exchange -central problem of capitalist societies -commodity’s use value- objects produced for use by oneself -exchange value- products exchanged in the market for money or other objects -exchange values use value connected with relation between human needs and objects to satisfy the needs -exchange values are quantitatively different ie: shoes have more exchange value than bread Fetishism of Commodities: -products we make ourselves and then worship as if it were a God is a fetishism of commodities -even our own labor becomes a commodity that is bought and sold on the market -economy takes on the function of the production of value -granting real
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