Cultural Anthro - Karl Marx

Topics: Sociology, Social class, Working class Pages: 4 (1315 words) Published: October 8, 1999
“Where some possess much, and the others nothing, there may arise an extreme- either out of the most rampant democracy, or out of an oligarchy.” This was once said by Aristotle who was probably the first to recognize the importance of a middle class. A powerful debate whether the middle class is essentially defined by cultural or economic factors still remains an issue. A rich tradition is devoted to disentangling economic from cultural components of a class. According to Karl Marx, the middle class is an outgrowth of economic factors, primarily capitalism. Many people tend to disagree with Marx that capitalism is the only important factor in the outgrowth of the middle class. Judith R. Blau argues that her understanding of the middle class has much to do with inclusive cultural values. Blau demonstrates her opinion though her ethnography, Social Contract and Economic Markets. I believe that Karl Marx’s economic factors and Judith Blau’s cultural factors together define the middle class.

Karl Marx believed class was a matter of economics, that is, how the individual fits into the pattern of modern capitalist society. Marx argued that the whole of capitalist society was constructed in order to support this idea including the society’s infrastructure. Marx believed that social classes arise when a group gains control of the means of production. This group also has the power to maintain or increase its wealth by taking advantage of the surplus value of labor. Many people question why a worker would labor under such conditions. The reason is quite simple according to Marx. The reason is political and social representation. Members of this class elect representatives who pass laws that serve their interests. Landlords and factory owners were able to use their control of resources to exploit the unlanded laborers in the newly emerging factories.

Karl Marx looks at human societies as a whole, and asks how they reproduce themselves,...
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