Question #4. Provide a critical account of Marx’s concepts of “class” and “class
struggle” for understanding inequality, social change and globalization.
Marx’s concept of class and class struggle are important in understanding his perspective
on inequalities and social change. Marx describes a simplified model of class: one either owns or
does not own the “means of production”. So you are either a capitalist or a worker. Marx is not
suggesting that only 2 classes exist, but he is illustrating 2 points: 1. That level of development of
the productive forces will determine the nature of its social form, and 2. That the economic base
will determine the social superstructure of a society, and that the superstructure and
consciousness of a society will change as the economic base undergoes change.
To understand Marx’s conception of society, one must understand Marx’s triad model of
industrial capitalism. Marx defines the economic base as consisting of 2 things: 1. Productive
forces (which includes a) means of production, such as tools or machine, and b) labour power,
which includes the skill, knowledge or creativity of the worker) and 2. Relations of production,
which refers to the ownership and control over non-human and human productive forces.
Productive forces and relations of production correspond and contradict and are overlooked by
the 3 thing, which is the superstructure, which includes legal, political, religious processes and
institution of society.
Class struggle, for Marx, is the essence of social change and transformation. Marx believes that
social class performs an important role in the dialectical process of constant change because
people, not productive forces, engage in revolution and develop societies when historical
circumstances provide them the opportunities to do so. For Marx, in the capitalist mode of
production, each category of people constituting the capitalists and the proletariat is a class-in-
itself because each class is defined by its common relationship to the means of production.And only when a group share a common interest and act together to discover a consciousness that
promotes their common interest, are they a clas