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Karl Marx 2 Critical Sociology

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1 Karl Marx 2 Critical Sociology

2 Causes / Aspects / Effects / Solutions
Outline Marx’s aims Critique Alienation Alienation and work Causes / Aspects / Effects / Solutions 5) Criticisms 6) Relevance today?

3 Important Writings EARLY: more about philosophy
Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts (1844) MIDDLE: more about politics The Communist Manifesto (1848) (with Engels) LATER: more about economics Das Kapital (‘Capital’) (1867)

4 Marx’s Aims Gain critical knowledge of social conditions
Criticise capitalist society Identify the main features of capitalist society Identify hidden aspects of that society – aspects other accounts had been unable to see Criticise other accounts of society – especially those that are uncritical of capitalism Encourage revolution – help develop Communist society

5 Critique Criticism – evaluating something
– identifying ‘good’ and ‘bad’ aspects of that thing Applied to: a society e.g. capitalism bad AND good Bad: exploitative of the working classes Good: leads to Communism

6 2) Scepticism not taking claims at face value can’t take a society’s opinions of itself at face value Applied to: ideologies (sets of ideas and attitudes, characteristic of a society) - In whose interests do they work? - What things do they hide?

7 Scepticism Cannot base social science on common-sense Must look at hidden aspects of social life Must have special terminology & concepts to describe these hidden aspects (“historical materialism”) Critical of Positivism – only looks at surfaces; must get underneath these surfaces

8 3) Uncovering hidden assumptions
Immanuel Kant – later 18th century Applied to: other theories of society e.g. ‘Human beings are essentially selfish’

9 Hidden, taken-for-granted assumptions:
a) human nature unchanging, not socially shaped b) human nature unaffected by capitalist society c) must look at individual, not society as a whole Critique of other theories: lay bare their hidden assumptions & show that these are very much open to question

10 4) Measuring ideals against reality
To criticise something you must have an understanding of what an ideal version of that thing looks like Measure the real thing against the ideal version of it Critique of a society: Measure a real society against an ideal society

11 Two ways of carrying out critique of a society:
Method 1: ‘external critique’ A real society, existing today MEASURED AGAINST An ideal society, existing in the future Communism Capitalism Work enjoyable Work not enjoyable Individual free Individual enslaved Everyone cooperates Everyone selfish

12 Method 2: ‘internal critique’
Real society MEASURED AGAINST Its own ideas about itself (ideologies) - Each society makes great, positive claims about itself - Show that these claims are false; that the reality of that society fails to live up to the claims

13 Capitalist society’s ideas about itself:
Individual freedom, democracy, meritocracy Reality of capitalism: Lack of freedom, democracy illusory, meritocracy is a myth Capitalist society confronted with its own ideals Capitalist society shown to fail to live up to its own ideals Capitalist society is hypocritical

14 Alienation Aims of Marx’s analysis of alienation:
To show the working classes why capitalism is a bad society (especially for them) 2) To find out how capitalism REALLY works - go beyond its own ideas about itself identify capitalism’s hidden workings

15 Alienation Two meanings: Commonsense meaning:
Person alienated from something End of alienation: person reconciled with that thing e.g. parents, family, society Marx: person alienated from their work

16 2) Hegel’s meaning of alienation:
a) Person makes something b) The thing takes on a life of its own c) The thing comes to dominate & control the person who made it - Can apply to whole societies - Humans create things that come to control them

17 Alienation in human societies:
Alienation & work 2. Alienation and religion Humans create God (or gods); God takes on a life of his own God comes to dominate humans 3. Alienation and the State Humans create the State The State takes on a life of its own The State comes to control humans

18 Alienation & Work Critique of capitalism =
Critique of work in capitalism = Critique of how work is organised in capitalism = Critique of the capitalist division of labour

19 Critique of the capitalist division of labour
Adam Smith: Late 18th century; Political Economy (economics) Benefits of the capitalist division of labour Marx’s critique of capitalism critique of Adam Smith’s Political Economy show the drawbacks of the capitalist division of labour

20 Adam Smith: the capitalist division of labour
Simple division of labour One person making one object slow Inefficient unproductive

21 Complex (capitalist) division of labour
Divide jobs up in the making of one object Use a number of people to make the object Each individual specialises Work is done faster Many more objects can be made More wealth created in nation Employers, workers & consumers all benefit Conclusion: capitalism works very well

22 Marx’s Critique of Smith
1) Over-optimistic: assumes CDOL is good Cannot see/admit bad aspects of CDOL 2) Stays at the level of theory Does not look at empirical reality 3) Looks at the surface of the CDOL Does not look at its hidden aspects 4) Political economy is not SCIENCE but IDEOLOGY - a naïve celebration of capitalism - completely lacks a critical analysis of capitalism

23 Capitalist division of labour
alienates workers from their work goes against human nature Human nature: Humans enjoy work IF work is freely chosen, is creative, & involves using imagination

24 Class-based societies
pervert human nature - Ruling class (minority) / class of workers (majority) Class of workers FORCED to work Work is both uncreative and boring Ruling class reaps all the benefits Human enjoyment of work prevented

25 Causes of Alienation in Work
Capitalist division of labour: 1) Relationship between capitalists and workers Factory worker - Does all the work - Work is dull, repetitive and unsatisfying - Only does one specialist task  Has very limited skills Becomes like a machine Loses his/her humanity (to work freely and creatively)

26 Capitalist factory owner
Does not do the actual work Becomes wealthy through other people’s efforts Capitalist is a parasite

27 2) Worker does not own property:
i.e. raw materials, tools and finished products (commodities) Capitalists own these (“private property”) 3) Worker has no control over their work Little or no choice as to what work to do Have to work to earn wages in order to survive (“wage slaves”)

28 4) Exploitation Obvious: capitalists USE the workers; reap the benefits b) Hidden: extract surplus value Surplus value = profit Difference between value of: 1) worker’s wage AND 2) value of commodity s/he makes e.g. table sold for £10 worker paid £2 surplus value = £8  taken by capitalist

29 Surplus value extracted in 2 ways:
Lengthen the working day (but keep wages the same) e.g. £10 wages for 5 hours work (£2 per hour) £10 wages for 10 hours work (£1 per hour)

30 2) Make labour more productive
Workers made to produce more goods in the same time (and wages stay the same as before) e.g. 12 tables in 4 hours (3 tables per hour) 12 tables in 2 hours (6 tables per hour)

31 Capitalists constantly seek more profit
More profit = more exploitation of workers Class conflict: class interests are antagonistic Capitalists seek to exploit workers Workers seek to avoid exploitation

32 Aspects of Alienation in Work
Alienated from the work process - No control over work 2. Alienated from the things made - Making things for someone else’s benefit

33 3. Alienated from his/her (true) self
Alienated from his/her human nature (‘species being’) Not allowed to make things freely and creatively 4. Alienated from other people No sense of community / capitalists / other workers

34 Effects of Alienation in Work
Dehumanisation Worker becomes like a machine A cog in a giant mechanism Class conflict Interests of capitalists and workers are antagonistic Classes alienated from each other 3) The Economy comes to control human beings Humans made the economy Economy takes on a life of its own Seems to have its own ‘laws’, its own ways of working that cannot be controlled (“the market”) Economy apparently beyond all human control

35 Humans enslaved by something they have made (and keep on making)
‘Commodity fetishism’: - people make goods for sale (commodities) commodities come to control their makers the economy (the market for commodities) controls workers AND capitalists the economy seems unstoppable and totally out of control

36 4) Everyone is alienated:
You are alienated even if you don’t realise it Capitalists as alienated as the workers (but capitalists have a cushion: their wealth) 5) Spread of capitalism across the globe “Globalization” – world-wide spread of alienation in work & exploitation

37 Solutions to Alienation
Communism = revolutionary change in organising work Abolition of division of labour: Abolition of classes: everyone is a worker Abolition of private property: - all things owned by everyone in common - all work done benefits everyone

38 Machines do all the routine work
No job specialisation: individual has multiple work roles and skills e.g. fisherman AND painter farmer AND composer People free to do whatever work that they enjoy Creativity and freedom in work Human nature freely expressed State vanishes – communities organise themselves Religion vanishes

39 Criticisms of Marx 1) Overemphasises work?
- More to human societies than work/economy alone 2) Outdated? Might apply to 19th century factories But cannot so easily be applied today 3) Non-alienating sorts of employment? e.g. types of self-employment 4) Communism unworkable? Soviet Union and Eastern Europe Capitalism inevitable? Capitalist division of labour unavoidable?

40 Relevance Today? Political economy  modern neo-liberal economics
Capitalist markets are good Capitalism shares wealth amongst all ‘Trickle-down effect’ Capitalist markets must be unhindered: Low taxes on companies & wealthy Low welfare spending for the poor

41 Marxist critique of Neo-Liberal Economics
Capitalist markets still alienating & exploitative Capitalism tends to give wealth only to the wealthy The poor remain poor Deskilling of workforce: McJobs, call centres

42 Marxist critique of Neo-Liberal Economics
Globalization: Job insecurity for Western workers Western exploitation of Third World Justification of activities of Trans-National Corporations (TNCs) e.g. Nike, Gap using sweatshop labour in Far East OVERALL: Capitalism today very much like in Marx’s time Neo-liberal economics tries to cover up the harsh realities Marxist critical sociology reveals these realities

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