Outline the Contribution of Marxism to Our Society

Topics: Marxism, Sociology, Capitalism Pages: 5 (1931 words) Published: October 5, 2011
OUTLINE THE CONTRIBUTION OF MARXISM TO OUR UNDERSTANDING OF SOCIETY Marxism is an ideology based on the economic and political theories of Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels. Karl Marx who was born in Germany in 1818 was a revolutionary whose ideas on society were the foundation of communism. Under modern capitalism the means of production, such as factories, land, and technology are controlled by a small minority who Marx called the bourgeoisie. Production is carried out by the working class, known as the proletarians who have to sell their labour or face poverty or starvation. Taken together these two classes form the economic base of society, what Marx called the substructure. Marx saw that there was conflict between these two divisions and that this could only be resolved by a revolution, which would lead to a classless society, where the means of production would be held collectively. All Marx’s theories use social class as a starting point for analysis. In this essay we will explore two areas where Marx’s theories have had influence, crime and deviance and education. Marx saw the bourgeoisie as controlling these institutions. Marxists believe that these institutions form part of the superstructure of society with the economy as its base. Marx believed that crime was a product of poverty and the law is manipulated by the ruling class for their own protection. Marx saw society controlled through socialisation and threat. In the process of socialisation through education, media and religion the WC are programmed to accept a society who support a capitalist, political and economic system designed to protect the bourgeoisie. A study by (West et al 1973) of 411 boys followed from age eight to eighteen found that poverty, large family size, low intelligence, bad parenting and having a parent with a criminal record where all factors in youth criminality. If more than three of these contributing factors were present, subjects were six times more likely to have a criminal conviction as a juvenile. However (Young, J. 1994) states there is no evidence that deprivation leads automatically to criminality “The crime rate was minute in the 1930’s, despite very high levels of poverty.” Supporters of Marxism point to the differences in sentencing for certain types of crime committed by WC compared to the sentencing of white collar crime, for example fraud or tax evasion which attract relatively shorter sentences than what is given to those who commit ‘street crime.’ Corporate crime where companies or organisations fail to protect their employees from harm, or who pollute the environment are not pursued because it is often impossible to isolate the individuals responsible. (Box, S.1987) suggests that large corporations form pressure groups, and lobby politicians to design laws which are favourable to them, supporting Marx’s theory that society is controlled by those who own the means of production. Marx foresaw that capitalism would go through periods of boom and slumps “In these crises, a great part not only of the existing products, but also of the previously created productive forces, are periodically destroyed,"( Selfa L 2001 cites Communist Manifesto) “It has long been recognized that trends in economic growth and recession have a tendency to impact on crime.” (Garside, R. 2009 ) In Northern Ireland Police Constable Sir Hugh Orde, has said the rise in crime could be linked to the economic downturn especially in acquisitive areas such as burglary, theft and robbery. (Breaking News 2009) (Jones, S. 2001) points to crime not always being linked to capitalism, for example, Sweden with its long history of capitalism has a very low crime rate. Left realists such as (Lea and Young 1984) argue that the victims of crime are often working class themselves. Followers of Marxism believe that education best serves the interests of the ruling classes. (Louie Althusser 1971) argues that institutions such as education, religion and...
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