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scs take home exam.pdf

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Social Sciences
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Jordan Stancil

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Melissa Joly (6756450) 1 The problem of social class seems to preoccupy many and arguably all of our authors. Write an essay about this theme using the following questions as guidance. How does each of the writers address the problem of social class? What role does class and the relations among classes play in each writer’s broader concerns? How does class conflict affect these writers’views about how politics works and about how society is organized? Ever since the first man claimed personal possession and society developed, there has been a fixation on the individuals place in the social system. The individuals place in the social structure and the manner in which different societal classes interact with one another is a major focus of many political philosophers. In the 14 century, when Italy was experiencing a political changeover with the expulsion of the Medici family, Machiavelli wrote his book “The Prince”, which was a detailed handbook for how a person of authority should operate. The book focused on the prince's struggle between power and public opinion and emphasized the importance of the divide between the public people and those in power. Hobbes introduced the state of fear, which is a society run off a central power, who uses this power to induce fear, and therefore the obedience of his nation. Contrarily, Locke developed a theory in which the government worked for the people, and using the same social contract which Hobbes describes, is able to create a community based off of liberal values which value the individuals natural rights. Rousseau wrote the Discourse of Inequality which explores the notion of how society developed and therefore how social class developed from the state of nature. Marx describes this as the classic fight of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, the factory owner and the factory worker and the inevitability of a communist revolution which eliminates all sense of social class. Durkheim's Divisions of Labour in Society discusses how societies maintain order through mechanical and organic solidarity as well as the transition from a primitive, natural society to one 2 which is complex and mechanical. Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Marx, and Durkheim all present differing philosophies of both how society currently functions and the ideal society. These viewpoints are largely influenced by the time period in which they lived as well as important life events which influenced their psyche. Machiavelli’s book entitled The Prince, was seen a as a guidebook for the common ruler. Machiavelli like Hobbes, believes in an absolute central authority, bound by the social contract theory. It is of Machiavelli’s opinion that a ruler must be able to sacrifice his morality for his state, he must in other words, love his state more than his sole. The Prince acts as a preparation for future leaders, preparing their minds for the potential immoral acts they may have to commit. According to Machiavelli there are two phases to ruling the public successfully, warfare and managing public opinion. The first, warfare, is fairly straight forward.Aleader must be confident in military tactics in order to protect his territory from outside threats, thereby securing his kingdom as a threat. Machiavelli also recognized however that public opinion was rather important. In Machiavelli’s eyes there are three social classes, the average citizen, the elite, and the sovereign. By managing the public opinion of the average citizen, the prince would protect himself from being overthrown by the elite, therefore securing his place in power. A good leader must be able to form a balance between what his ideal military tactics would be and the ability to keep public opinion at bay. The most important characteristic of a prince is his ability to sacrifice his morality for the good of the state and to prevent immoral acts being acted upon him. To do this, the leader must be willing to sacrifice not only his morality but also his word, being willing to denounce statements or laws which are no longer beneficial to himself In Machiavelli's ideal state however, the average citizen's roles extent further than simply obeying the sovereign. The average citizen has three responsibilities, to be active in political affairs, to be virtuous, and to be economically independent.According to Machiavelli, a citizen has no right to the protection of the sovereign if they are not able to take action in the politics surrounding the state. For if 3 they are not involved they are not acting as citizens of the state in all it's authority. The citizen must be virtuous to both his king and moral values, in order to ensure his state is run in a moral manner and to avoid tyranny, however the citizen must always be loyal to their king, even if it means sacrificing the morals of the community. Lastly the citizen has the responsibility to be economically independent in order to aid in the funding of the state and to evoke civil pride. Thomas Hobbes, the author of the work Leviathan, is famous for stating that he and fear were born twins. Having been born premature due to the coming invasion of the Spanish Armanda, and being forced to flee to Paris during the English civil war, Hobbes was constantly surrounded by fear during his lifetime, which in return, effected his view of the citizens role in society. Hobbes was a big proponent of the social contract theory which stated that a citizen, by being part of the societal group, has automatically given up some of their rights to the sovereign in return for the sovereign's protection and services. In Leviathan, Hobbes states, “where there is no common power, there is no law; where there is no law, there is no injustice”, this quote refers to the Hobesian ideal that without a central power, man would only act in the way which is most beneficial to himself and would therefore revert back to his primitive instincts which are inherently selfish. Hobbes speaks to this natural state through he quote, “To this war every man against every man”, meaning that when left to their own devices, it is a solo world. Since, according to Hobbes, there is to be only one central authority in the ideal world, there would only be two classes, the sovereign or ruling power and the citizens. The sovereign's role is to act in the best interest of the commonwealth, he would be awarded absolute power in order to ensure a sufficient defence. The sovereign would also act as a common power, eliminated all other other illegitimate sources of power which may result from the average citizen. It is for this reason that the sovereign operates in the manner of fear, in order to maintain it's power and 4 therefore protect the commonwealth from other, corrupt sources of power. The citizens role is to simply obey the sovereign, which is outlined through the social contract theory. John Locke's Second Treatise of Government has been considered an inspiration to the idea of the modern, liberal-democratic state since it's existence. Locke begins his Second Treatise of Government with the notion that we are all free born, with natural rights intact.At some point however, these individuals will require good, at which point they will enter a community for mutual protection. In order to enter the community however, the individual must relinquish some of their natural rights in order to gain the protection of the government. By coming together in a community, the people invoke an authority to enforce the ethic and laws of the community. Due to human nature it is inevitable that these centres of authority will become corrupt and it is thus the civic duty of the people rebel against the government and replace it with one which they entrust will uphold their community values. Rousseau wrote the discourse of inequality as an entry to an essay competition which asked the question, “What is the origin of inequality among men, and is it authorized by the natural law?", he did not win the competition but his work of The Discourse of Inequality won him quite a bit of praise at the time. In The Discourse of Inequality, Rousseau states that the first man to claim personal property, wither it was land, or a physical item, was the first man to develop society. Rousseau like Hobbes believed that in a state of nature that man would be selfish and look after his own needs, having the main priorities of food, shelter, and procreation. It was not until man started to find tools and therefore make huts and hunt that man began to see himself as the top of the food chain in nature, families and therefore communities began to develop and with the introduction of natural disasters, language became increasingly important. This stage was called middle nature, it
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