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Karl Marx 2 Critical Sociology. Outline 1)Marxs aims 2)Critique 3)Alienation 4)Alienation and work -Causes / Aspects / Effects / Solutions 5) Criticisms.

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Presentation on theme: "Karl Marx 2 Critical Sociology. Outline 1)Marxs aims 2)Critique 3)Alienation 4)Alienation and work -Causes / Aspects / Effects / Solutions 5) Criticisms."— Presentation transcript:

1 Karl Marx 2 Critical Sociology

2 Outline 1)Marxs aims 2)Critique 3)Alienation 4)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 Marxs Aims 1)Gain critical knowledge of social conditions 2)Criticise capitalist society 3)Identify the main features of capitalist society 4)Identify hidden aspects of that society – aspects other accounts had been unable to see 5)Criticise other accounts of society – especially those that are uncritical of capitalism 6)Encourage revolution – help develop Communist society

5 Critique 1)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 -cant take a societys 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 18 th 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 CommunismCapitalism Work enjoyableWork not enjoyable Individual freeIndividual 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 societys 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 Marxs analysis of alienation: 1)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 capitalisms hidden workings

15 Alienation Two meanings: 1)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) Hegels 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: 1.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 Adam Smith: Late 18 th century; Political Economy (economics) Benefits of the capitalist division of labour Marxs critique of capitalism critique of Adam Smiths 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 Marxs 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 Has very limited skills Becomes like a machine 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 peoples 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 a)Obvious: capitalists USE the workers; reap the benefits b) Hidden: extract surplus value Surplus value = profit Difference between value of: 1) workers 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: 1)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 1.Alienated from the work process - No control over work 2.Alienated from the things made - Making things for someone elses 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 1)Dehumanisation -Worker becomes like a machine -A cog in a giant mechanism 2)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 dont 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 19 th 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 Marxs time Neo-liberal economics tries to cover up the harsh realities Marxist critical sociology reveals these realities

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