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Critically Assess Marx's Theory of Class and Stratification.

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Critically Assess Marx's Theory of Class and Stratification.

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  • March 2011
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Marx class theory derived from his belief that class divisions are not found in all forms of society; classes are a creation of history. For Marx, classes are defined and structured by firstly, who owns or has property and means of production and who does the work in the production process, secondly the social relationships included in work and labour, and thirdly who produces and who rules the surplus human social labour can produce. All of these aspects of Marx class theory will be further explored in this essay.

Marx believed that class divisions are not found in all societies, classes are a creation of history. The earliest and smallest societies (tribal and primitive) were classless. It is universally true that all human beings depend on the quest of meeting their basic needs – food, water, shelter and clothing. In these primitive societies, the working day was taken up with required labour in order to meet society’s basic needs and forces of production were distributed equally amongst the community. But when basic needs are met, this leads to man’s creation of new needs, as humans are forever dissatisfied animals. Marx defines human beings as producers (Callinicos, A, p.98, 1996). Humans seek to transform nature to enable them to meet their needs and do this through two different mode of production. The first ‘forces of production’ which depends on what Marx calls the ‘labour process’. ‘‘Labour is first of all a process between man and nature, a process by which man, though his own actions, mediates, regulates and controls the metabolism between himself and nature’’ (C I 283). The relations of production is the social aspect, which involves the property rights of the productive forces, it is what distinguishes the modes of production for one another. Improvements in the labour force are determined by if man is able to produce the same amount of things but with less human labour. By been able to produce more effectively, therefore meant man gains more...