Sociology 203 Exam Notes
Karl Marx (1818-1883)
Dialectics of History:
• Primitive Communism - used to describe early hunter-gatherer societies, that had no
hierarchical social class structures or capital accumulation
• Feudalism - medieval times
• Capitalism - an economic and political system in which a country's trade and industry are
controlled by private owners for profit.
• Communism - a system in which goods are owned in common and are available to all as
needed; elimination of private property.
Labour Theory of Value:
• Use value - the qualitative value of a commodity; what the commodity actually does. (Hammer
can drive in a nail).
• Exchange value - the quantitative value of a commodity. Not necessarily price, but rather,
represents what (quantity of) other commodities it will exchange for, if traded. (Hammer can be
exchanged for $10).
• Surplus value - The excess of value produced by the labor of workers over the wages they are
Commodity - Araw material or primary agricultural product that can be bought and sold, such as copper
Commodity fetishism - capitalism affects the way people interact with each other based on the economic
class the belong to and the means by which this is reflected are commodities. For instance, under
capitalism everything that can be exchanged becomes a commodity, even labor. So by selling your labor
to an employer you are commoditizing yourself, and that defines the kind of relationship you and your
employer will have. And since under capitalism all transactions are carried through the exchange of
commodities, mostly all relationships are defined by these exchanges.
• From one's own labour force
• From the products of own labour
• From other people • From one's self
Ideology - that which is taken-for-granted as natural but actually serves the interests of the powerful
Camera obscura - Marx says that ideology is a "camera obscura" which turns the image on
reality on its head. In other words, Marx holds that ideology reflects an inverted image of social
reality, which is distorted and false. Marx, plainly speaking, says that the truth of reality and
reality as it is conceived through ideology are opposed.
• Economic class
•Access to resources
Superstructures - social institutions that are sites for the production and circulation of capitalist
Class consciousness - involves understanding one's own alienation and exploitation. Rather than merely
being an objective (uses indicators such as occupational prestige, level of education, income) social class,
workers need to become a subjective (determined by how a person thinks about their membership in a
social class) social class.
Max Weber (1864 - 1920)
Ideal types of power/domination:
1. traditional authority - authority comes from sanctity of age-old rules (patriarchal power, inherited
power such as king/queen). Individual may lose power but position maintains power. Not immune to
challenge from charismatic of legal-rational power.
2. charismatic authority -comes from special qualities of leader (cult leader, dictators). Limited to life
of leader unless transferred to text or becomes traditional or legal-rational.
3. rational-legal authority - derived from set of clearly defined laws. Limited to specific realms.
• Hierarchy of authority
• Positions based on requisite skills, abilities
• Each position has a specific sphere of authority • Authority tied to positions not individuals.
• People earn fixed salaries; positions are not owned
• Promotion and dismissal practices are predictable and clearly outlined
• Behaviour is governed by a set of abstract and well-defined rules.
Disenchantment - describe the character of modernized, bureaucratic, secularized Western society, where
scientific understanding is more highly valued than belief, and where processes are oriented toward
rational goals, as opposed to traditional society where for Weber "the world remains a great enchanted
garden". According to Weber, in legal-rational societies we become trapped in an “iron cage of
• Class - access to material resources
• Status - a style of life associated with a distinct social circle
• Party - a group of people who collectively seek power in the face of opposition
C. Wright Mills(1916 - 1962)
3 types of power:
1. coercion or physical force
2. legitimate authority
The power elite:
• economic: corporations
• political: government
• military: armed forces
Pyramid of power (from top to bottom):
1. the power elite
2. families, churches, schools (tools of elite)
3. the masses (largely apathetic and indifferent to power relations)
John Porter and The Vertical Mosaic (1965)
Three key images of Canada in the VM: • Canada as a class society: unlike myths of Canada as the land of opportunities, free from artistocratic
nobility structure of UK, Canada is stratified by class. The class you are born into affects your educational
opportunities, work opportunities and general life chances.
• The vertical mosaic= Canada is a stratified society, withAnglo-white people holding jobs and power at
top and racialized people holding different class positions throughout the society
• Canada as a society with accommodating elites: ‘accomodating elites’refers to how certain elites work
to maintain this vertical mosaic to their own benefit
Economic Globalization, Neo-Liberalism and Labour Unions
Short history of capitalism:
• Family capitalism: mid to late 1800s
• Corporate capitalism: late 1800s to 1900s
• Welfare capitalism: 1930s- 1980s
• Late (or advanced capitalism): 1980s- present
Globalization - the worldwide exchange of money, goods, and services as well as the socio-cultural
changes that occur as a result
1973 Oil Crisis
• 1973- Yom Kippur War between Egypt & Israel
• The U.S supported Israel
• Arab, oil-producing countries created an oil-embargo, leading to super high oil prices in the West.
• Oil embargo led to increased inflation and high interest rates
• Governments globally accrued huge national debts
• International financial crisis ensued.
Neoliberalism - as a response to international financial crisis of the 1970s. • privatization of public goods (transportation, media infrastructure, etc)
• austerity measures (cutting on social spending)
• liberalizing markets (increase of free trade)
Structural adjustment programs (SAPS)
• International Monetary Fund (IMF) - ensure the stability of the international monetary system
—the system of exchange rates and international payments that enables countries (and their citizens)
to transact with one other. This system is essential for promoting sustainable economic growth,
increasing living standards, and reducing poverty.
• World Bank - An international banking organization established to control the distribution of
economic aid among member na