-Marx and Engel’s thoughts on capitalism: these system works in their infinitely more
complex forms. / They argue that in most industrial societies, capitalism divides the
population into two opposing societies.
- Under the capitalist system, workers are provided with access to this machinery and
capital, and they produce goods in exchange for a wage.
-The mere threat of unemployment guarantees that workers and their union
representatives will comply with the capitalists’ wishes.
-This set of economic arrangement: the bourgeoisie can rule and exploit the
proletariat, or working class.
-Proletariat has three choices: they can work for the capitalists, more or less on the
conditions they dictate, and they can form unions and try to change the conditions set
by the capitalists, revolt, overthrow the capitals, and create a new, egalitarian,
-Worker cannot do the last option, which is revolution. Making compliance is easier.
- The means of production mediates this dynamic between the capitalists and the
-Marx: In every society, the means of production determines difference in social
position: who is in power and who is not. / However, as the technologies of
production change over time the means of production also change. ex) from
horticulture to framing to industrial work.
-In the end, these ever-evolving means of production cause constant shifts in power
- Class conflict is an inescapable feature of any society beyond the smallest and least
developed, such as hunter-gatherer societies.
- But capitalist industrial societies are particularly prone to class conflict, since the
interests of the bourgeoisie and the workers are so fundamentally opposed: lower
wages and worse working conditions for the proletariat mean higher profits for
capitalists, and any concessions by the capitalists to the workers mean lower profits.
-Proletariat is forced to work for capitalists in order to survive.
-According to Marx, the only way to change this situation is for working-class people
to recognize how similar their economic experiences are.
-Marx distinguishes two types of class awareness: a class that is aware in itself/ a
class that is aware for itself.
-False consciousness: - a belief in the ideologies perpetuated by the dominant
capitalist class that blame people for their own troubles, rather than the system as a
-To oppose and overthrow capitalism, workers need to develop a revolutionary class-
consciousness and believe that they are on the winning side of history.
- As Marx and Engels declare in the Manifesto: “Workers of the world unite! You
have noting to lose but your claims.”
< A whole Lot more for a Whole Lot less>
-Democratic socialism: comprising small improvements and timely social reform, has
dealt with many of the working-class that Marx and Engels put forward.
- Capitalism-> Globalization: Workers after all divided by other factors that make
them unlikely to come together as a single revolutionary group.
- The Great Depression of the 1930s, and the world recession that begin in 2008 have
failed to set off a class revolution.
-Despite Marx and Engel’s predictions, capitalism has survived. - It has endured thanks to a combination of protection by Western governments, and
to the war making that has yielded profits, increased productivity, and a boost to
- Our modern version of capitalism has introduced factors designed to appease
-Since the mid 20 century, Western workers (especially in the US and Canada) have
lost their class-consciousness and shifted their focus to identity politics (inequalities
based on race, sexuality, and even age)
- An unionized manufacturing job have been lost to overseas workers, Canadian and
American workers have lost their political voice.
-Today, few workers have read The Communist Manifesto
-Today working class: remains unlikely to revolt since its lack of class-consciousness.
-But, as Marx recognized, the development of such class-consciousness has always
posed a huge challenge.
-Successful mobilization requires successful organization
-Protest and revolution need tight organization and loyal membership: everyone
must share the risks and dangers.
-This expelling so called free rider.
-Class based organization such as trade unions needs to be able to mobilize their
members behind strong leaders-> must ensure that the group exercises self-control
(not self-expression)and work toward collective interests( not individual ones).
-Class mobilization forces people to blindly trust union and party leaders; to value
equality over liberty; and to work toward long-term, instead of short-term, goals.
- Workers will only agree to this kind of self-sacrifice if they have ominous, repellent
-In Marxian theory, that enemy is exploitation.
-The control and use of an economic resource- be it capital, property, or technology-to
profit at the expense of the workers.
-Marx, however, based his theory of exploitation (* Labour theory of value) , which
focuses on the forced extraction of surplus from workers. It is this labour theory of
value that allows capitalists to exploit and benefit from the poverty of the workers.
-In capitalist societies, workers-who lack access to or control over the means of
production-are focused to sell their labor power to whoever owns the means of
-Workers are forced to survive from paycheck to paycheck, and meal to meal.
-Viewed this way, surplus value is the difference between the wages a worker
receives and the value of the product he produces.
-The idea that labor is the supreme source of all wealth was not a unique
Marxian contribution. (common belief shared by most early political economist:
- Adam smith: if workers own their own means of production goods would be priced
in proportion to the labour needed to produce them.
-h/w later neo-classical economists backed away from theory of surplus value because
it was too abstract; no one could measure the surplus value workers were producing.
- Today, the notion of surplus value remains widely rejected.
Mainstream economists, and even many Marxists, recognize its technical defects.
- Marx’s original theory: used the term exploitation to refer to economic unfairness,
including notions of disadvantage, trickery, greed, and dehumanization.
-Today sociologists: used the term exploitation in a more general sense( Max Webber,
another founder of sociology, ) -Among modern sociologists, exploitation means profiting unjustly form the labor of
-In wirght’s analysis, there are three principles or criteria of exploitation: inverse
interdependence exclusion, exclusion, and appropriation.
- Marx’s theory: adopted the problem of alienation.
-Marxist: meaning that it follows Marx’s classic theories.
-Neo-Marxist: meaning that it is a reinterpretation or reworking of those classical
-The book, Labour and Monopoly Capital, published in 1974 by Harry Bravermen:
Braverman was able to provide an insider’s perspective on working-class experience.
-He proposes that modern work, while demanding ever-higher levels of education and
expertise, has become increasingly mindless, bureaucratic, and alienation.
It has been divided economically and intellectually, with one class of people acting as
robots, merely operating machinery, and another class acting as experts and mangers.
; Barverman’s argument for the ever-increasing mindlessness of works seems to have
been correct. (Technology advance have made work even more meaningless,
underpaid, and exploitative.)
-Third world workers who toil in conditions similar to those seen during the Industrial
Revolution, global capitalism has meant exploitation.
-In Canada, many of the jobs that were considered white-collar and middle-class
during Braverman’s time are now becoming more repetitive and unfulfilling than
before. ex) simply require monotonous data entry into a computer file.
-Ultimately, theses changes to employment opportunities are meant to increase profits.
-One managerial strategy used to this end : often disguised as “job enlargement” or
-Fever ppl produce the same output, reducing the money that goes toward wagers,
thereby yielding greater profits.
-Another management strategy creates the illusion of employee decision-making that
gives workers a chance to produce to participate by choosing between fixed,
insignificant alternatives. (Theses strategies are often framed as helping to humanize
work by creating an interesting fast-paced environment in which there is never a dull
-Studies of consumerism, addiction, and religious fundamentalism consistently find a
trend toward people’s continued, desperate search for meaning.
< A Life long Debate >
- Marx’s theories were revolutionary both in his time and in our ideas. (the basis for
an entire socialist empire: the so-called communist Block of nations, centered on the
USSR and China in the 20the century.
- Marx’s economic theory seems too simplistic for today’s world.
-Marx’s economic theory > all of social cultural life (economic relations are thus the
structure of society, while socio-cultural relations are merely the superstructure over
this economic foundation.)
- In Principle, Marx denies that ideas and beliefs can shape social and cultural life,
except to the most superficial degree.( this is the different from Max weber, another
founder of sociology whom we mentioned earlier. )
< Max Weber >
- It is in this respect that Marx differs most from Max Weber.
- Max weber born in Germany. His mother= Calvinist orthodoxy. - Theses biographical facts would later influence Weber’s intellectual development.
- He believed that Calvinist Orthodoxy who adopt the hard work and he would be able
to overcome a natural tendency toward laziness and self-indulgence.
- While he was professor, he wrote lots of books: about spanned geographies and
- Even though Weber was only 19 when Marx died Weber’s biographies have often
said that these two scholars appear to be in debate with one another in terms of their
ideas on class and power.
- Unlike Marx, Weber considered ideas-whether they were political, economic, or
religious-to be just as important as economic relations.
- This belief forms the basis of Weber’s most influential work on the topic, The
Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.
- In his book, Weber proposes that religious ideas played a key role in why the East
-Weber argues argue that values associated with ascetic Protestantism and especially
Calvinism-like the emphasis on hard work, sobriety, and frugality all of which Weber
himself held dear- stimulated and supported the development of capitalism,
bureaucracy, and the Western rational-legal state.
-For Weber, capitalism is not a purely material phenomenon, as Marx claimed.
Instead, he argues that capitalism rests on certain production, some of which cannot
be solely explained by relations of production.
Theses include religious ideas; capitalist relations of production reflect uniquely
Protestant beliefs about working hard and striving for success.
- This explains, according to Weber, Why the most sophisticated form s of Capitalism
arose in northwestern Europe and not in India, china, ancient Israel, or the Roman
Catholic Mediterranean areas of Europe.
-Weber’s earlier work on comparative religion supports this thesis, providing
evidence based on a deep analysis of faiths both within beyond European borders.
-Weber also extended Marx’s definition of class, incorporating some non-economic
aspects of social life.
- Weber: class position is not only about economic relations of ownership, but it is
also about education and skills, making it more broadly a social position.
-Marx: a class is a group of people who share a certain relationship to the means of
production, be it as capitalist-owners or powerless wage-laborers’.
-So, Weber would define a class as a group of people with similar economic
interests opportunities, and condition, whose material wellbeing is significantly
affected by their education and skills. (Nuanced definition than the one Marx
provided, as it takes into account the complexities of modern economic life)
- Weber’s definition may therefore be more easy applicable to the Canadian class
system. eg. Not like a neat layers in a cake- they are more like an Italian Sandwich.
- Making calss distinctions may not be as simple and clear-cut as Marx seems to have
- Marx was correct in arguing that social class is fundamentally linked to the work
people do, but he seems to have been less correct in his argument that this work-status
connection is only mediated by people’s relation to the means of production.
-The linke is more complex than that, people in similar relations to the means of
production may differ widely in their earnings, the nature of the work they do.
- A self-employed business worker, for instance is a different kind of capitalist than
the larger-than-life factory owner Marx imagined. -Weber’s definition becomes helpful: In the Weberian sense, class is determined by
people’s market position in the economy- that is, by how much money and status they
gain from their occupation-not by their relation to the means of production.
-Weber also expanded on Marx’s idea of class formation.
-In addition to the processes of exploitation and class- consciousness that Marx put
forward, Weber saw that classes from through exclusion. -> By this he meant that
classes fight to keep their distinction and privileges, often subdividing into smaller
status groups, or sets of people with a shared social position with similar ideas of
prestige, esteem, and honor.
-Viewed another away, class is a special kind of status group organized around a
variety of social differences. (Religion, ethnicity, nationality, regional location, or
-The chief feature of a status group just like that of a class is the practice of drawing