Marxism in International Relations Essay

Marxism in International Relations Essay.

Contrast and compare between the conservative theories of idealism and realism and the transformative theory of Marxists. Intro: Critically discuss the similarities and the difference of conservative theories and transformative or critical theories. These theories entail idealism, realism in contrast liberalism and Marxism. 5 Main assumptions to draw a concluding contrats between a Marxist transformative theory and theories of idealism and realism”

Assumption 1

Firstly, like Realism, Marxist transformative theory assumes that the structure of the international system is an important factor to consider when we want to understand international relations.

Whereas realism places emphasis on the anarchic political structure of the world, Marxist transformative theory emphasises the fundamental production (economic) structure and the difference places taken up by states, societies and classes (bourgousesie, proletariat). Some examples: Russia 1920’s, workers revolution due to the economic structures put in place by the Monarchy, was an application of the Marxist theory, when it was foreseen that the workers class or proletariat, would assume control.

Assumption 2:

Marxists also stress power, we saw how realist viewed the distribution as th4e most important explanatory variable in international relations, whereas idealist introduce a range of other factors which can be used to explain the events and tendencies.

Here again Marxists transformatists are closer to realist than to idealism, insofar they also highlight power, differentials as an important factor. Big difference: Realists focus on state power in general, specifically on military power (hard power). Marxists tend to emphasise structural economic power.

Assumption 3:

Thirdly, Marxists transformatists also share realism sceptical attitude towards the role of morality in international relations. Marxists assumes morals are often and ideological smokescreen use to highlight the real and determining economic interests that motivate the behaviour of actors Idealists believe morality plays a huge part in international affairs – be kind to your neighbour because it is the right thing to do. Example: America and the Marshall plan – giving money to Greece not because it is the right thing to do, but to reduce the invasion of communism and keep the capitalist state alive.

Assumptions 4:

Idealists and Marxists reject realisms almost obsessive pre=occupation with the state. Idealists argue in favour of a plurist point of view, namely that there are many and varied types of actors in international relations. And in the specific context which type of actor plays the dominant role, realism overemphasises the state’s role. However Marxists are not plurists, they regard only a few types of actors as crucial economic players.

Assumption 5

Finally, on the question of whteher international display a basic continuity or not, Marxists transfomatits find themselves between realists and idealist. Like realists, they believe there is not continuity. For Marxists this continuity exists in the fact that throughout history in the fact that throughout that control the means of production and where privilege because of that, while other groups suffered, on the other had, Marxists believe that this basic contiuntiy does not rule out the possibility does not rule out the possibility of fundamental transformation. Like Idealist, Marxists also believe that the world can be made a better place. But, where they differ, is that Marxists do not see this improvement as a natural process, but as something that has to be deliberately done.

Marxism in International Relations Essay

Critical Theory Essay

Critical Theory Essay.

Critical theory is a body of ideas generally associated with the ‘Frankfurt School’. It was during the early 1980s that a new form of theoretic inquiry which was highly critical of tradional theories of IR, emerged. However the genesis of the theory can be found in the works of Kant and Marx with their emphasis on the ‘emancipatry purpose of knowledge and enquiry’. In other words critical theory entails ‘enlightenment project’ which subjects knowledge and education to the ideal purpose of freedom and liberation.

Jurgon Habermas gave a new life to the critical and emancipatory views of Kant and Marx when he questioned the epistemological(source of knoeledge) and ontological(nature of being) foundations of existing social order and said that all knowledge is historically and politically based. Critical theory also involves the critique of modernity in the domains of state capitalism, high-tech reindustrialization and science-cum-computer oriented education system that have strengthened and perpetuated the hegemony and dominance of few.

Among the prominent critical theorists inclde Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, Paulo Friere, John Forester, Herbert Mercuse, Andrew Linklater and Dieter Misgeld,etc,.

Trends in Critical Theory:
Following are important trends in critical theory:

a) Critical Social Theory:
The basic point of analysis in critical social theory is society as a whole. It seldom focuses on state. It discusses all the social structures which are responsible for dominance, ignorance and exploitation. Frankfurt Scool is the poineer of this trend.

b) Critical International Theory:
Critical international theory with its basis in emancipatory ideas of Kant and Marx seeks to look for the possibilities of tronsforming international relations so that constraints of dominance are removed and univaresal freedom and equality achieved. It is actually the extension of critical social theory to the domain of international relations.

Key Aspects of Critical Theory:

1) Problem-Solving and Critical Theories:
Problem-solving Theory: Accordinng to Robert Cox problem solving theory takes the world as it finds it.It does not challenge the present order but legitimise and affects its smooth working by solving the particular problems that troubles it. Traditional theories of IR are considered to be working in fever of stabilising prevailing structures of world order with their inequalities of power and wealth. 2) Critical International Theory: It argues that cognitive processes themselves are subject to political interests and, therefore, are to be critically evaluated. Theories of IR like any other knowledge are conditioned by social, cultural and ideological influence; and the task of critical theory is to evaluate such conditioning implications. It not only challenges the status-quo oriented theories but also comes up with normative solutions in favor of emancipation.

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Critical Theory Essay

Elitist Approach Essay

Elitist Approach Essay.

Marx asserted that the key to understanding human culture and history was the struggle between the classes. He used the term class to refer to a group of people within society who share the same social and economic status (Marx K. and Engels F. 1945). According to Marx, class struggles have occurred in every form of society, no matter what its economic structure, or mode of production: slavery, feudalism, or capitalism. In each of these kinds of societies, a minority of people own or control the means of production, such as land, raw materials, tools and machines, labour, and money.

This minority constitutes the ruling class. The vast majority of people own and control very little. They mainly own their own capacity to work. The ruling class uses its economic power to exploit workers by appropriating their surplus labour. In other words, workers are compelled to labour not merely to meet their own needs but also those of the exploiting ruling class.

As a result, workers become alienated from the fruits of their labour (Marx K. and Engels F. 1945).

Marx perceived a class struggle raging between the bourgeoisies or capitalists who controlled the means of production, and the proletariat, or industrial workers. In their view, the bourgeoisie appropriated wealth from the proletariat by paying low wages and keeping the profits from sales and technological innovation for themselves. The central focus of Marx’s economic theory is the labour theory of value. According to Marx, the value of a good is determined by the quantity of labour required to produce it. The labour theory of value is in direct contrast to capitalist assumptions, which hold that productive value is a function of labour plus three additional factors; land (raw materials), capital and management (such as machinery and tools) generally placed a part in the production of goods. Since capital is nothing more than “stored-up labour” (that is, labour that had been used in inventing and constructing machines, tools and assembly lines) the only value capital contributes is determined by the proportion of labour required to eventually replace it. Marx valued capital less (R.H. Popkin and A. Stroll, 1989).

Since only human labour contributes to the value of a product, the total value of a commodity is equal to the total wage cost involved in its production. Within a capitalist system, however, the cost of a good always exceeds paid wages. The reason for this is that the employer, by virtue of his superior economic position, is able to obtain the full services of workers without paying them fully for the value of their productivity. Wage costs, in other words, are always less than the value of goods produced.

Marx called the difference between the two surplus values; it represents the value created by the labourer but appropriated by the employer. Since the ownership of a factory or business firm could not itself contribute to the value of production, any surplus value generated by a business manager represented the illegitimate appropriation of wealth by the bourgeoisie from the proletariat. Surplus value (profit), in other words, is a measure of the exploitation in society. This resulted into class consciousness which led to the people retaliating with their masters (R.H. Popkin and A. Stroll, 1989).

The newly revised minimum wage has been an issue to most investors and companies. This issue has been a source of concern to ignite the fire. Today almost all companies or institutions are complaining to adhere to the demand. This has resulted in civil protests to implement the revised policy of the general workers; hence this is a clear manifestation of the class theory orchestrated by Karl Marx. According to Marx “class consciousness” refers to the workers’ general resentment and feeling of being systematically cheated by the boss, where any aggressive action from complaining to industrial sabotage is viewed as evidence. Class consciousness is essentially the interests of a class becoming its recognized goals (G. Lukacs, 1971). These interests, for those who accept Marx’s analysis, are objective; they accrue to a class because of its real situation and can be found there by all who seriously look. Rather than indicating simply what people want, “interest” refers to those generalized means which increase their ability to get what they want, and includes such things as money, power, ease, and structural reform or its absence.

Whether they know it or not, the higher wages, improved working conditions, job security, inexpensive consumer goods, etc., that most workers say they want are only to be had through such mediation. Moreover, the reference is not only to the present, but to what people will come to want under other and better conditions. Hence, the aptness of C. Wright Mill’s description of Marxian interests as “long run, general, and rational interests.”The most long runs and rational interest of the working class lies in overturning the exploitative relations which keep them, individually and collectively, from getting what they want. Becoming class-conscious in this sense is obviously based on the recognition of belonging to a group which has similar grievances and aspirations, and a correct appreciation of the group’s relevant life conditions (G. Lukacs, 1971).

The realization of their grievances and their aspirations today, most Zambians have ganged up together to fight for better salaries and improved working conditions. This has even solicited some chaos and anarchy in some places, for instance the killing of the Chinese nation at Mamba quariaries due to the ill treatment triggered the majority Zambians to team up and voice out.

For Marx, life itself is the hard school in which the workers learn to be class-conscious, and he clearly believes they possess the qualities requisite to learning this lesson. In so far as people share the same circumstances, work in identical factories, live in similar neighbourhoods, etc., they are inclined to see things-the most important ones at least-in the same way. They cannot know more than what their life presents them with nor differently from what their life permits.

Indeed the life style of the people of Zambia is a good preaching sermon to unite them fight for a common cause due to the low wages given by investors. It is easy to distinguish the life style due to its commonality in their living standard. The standard of living is determined by the income received at the end of the day. The standard of living is quite below poverty datum line to the majority Zambians.

The inevitable outcome would be a revolution in which the proletariat, taking advantage of strikes, elections, and, if necessary, violence, would displace the bourgeoisie as the ruling class. A political revolution was essential, in Marx’s view, because the state is the central instrument of capitalist society. Rather than the proletariat’s conditions serving as a barrier to such rational thinking, Marx believes the reverse is the case. The very extremity of their situation, the very extent of their suffering and deprivation, makes the task of calculating advantages relatively an easy one. As part of this, the one-sided struggle of the working class-according to Engels, “the defeats even more than the victories”-further exposes the true nature of the system. The reality to be understood stands out in harsh relief, rendering errors of judgment increasingly difficult to make. The workers’ much discussed alienation simply does not extend to their ability to calculate advantages, in the matter is regarded as a passing and essentially superficial phenomenon.

Marx maintained that “the abstraction of all humanity, even the semblance of humanity” is “practically complete in the full blown proletariat.” A loophole is reserved for purposive activity, which is the individual’s ability to grasp the nature of what he wants to transform and to direct his energies accordingly. Marx held that productive activity is always purposive, and that this is one of the main features which distinguish human beings from animals. Class consciousness is the result of such purposive activity with the self as object, of workers using their reasoning powers on themselves and their life conditions. It follows necessarily from what they are, both as calculating human beings and as workers caught up in an inhuman situation. The workers are also prompted in their search for socialist meaning by their needs as individuals.

For Marx, society produces people who have needs for whatever, broadly speaking, fulfils their powers in the state in which these latter have been fashioned by society. These needs are invariably felt as wants, and since that which fulfils an individual’s powers includes by extension the conditions for such fulfilment, he soon comes to want the means of his own transformation; for capitalist conditions alone cannot secure for workers, even extremely alienated workers, what they want. Job security, social equality, and uninterrupted improvement in living conditions, for example, are simply impossibilities within the capitalist framework. Hence, even before they recognize their class interests, workers are driven by their needs in ways which serve to satisfy these interests (Wright Mills C, 1962). And, as planned action-based on a full appreciation of what these interests are-is the most effective means of proceeding, needs provide what is possibly the greatest boost to becoming class-conscious.

Both critics and defenders of Marx alike have sought to explain the failure of the working class to assume its historic role by tampering with his account of capitalist conditions. Thus, his critics assert that the lot of the workers has improved, that the middle class has not disappeared, etc., and, at the extreme, that these conditions were never really as bad as Marx claimed (Wolpe’s H. 1970). Indeed even in our daily life people are willing to continue working despite the merger salaries for them to continue earning a living which is quite retrogressive to well being of the people in general. This has made the work very difficult for the government, though the government is pushing for better salaries of its people to ensure the minimum wage is implemented. If it was not conditions which failed Marx, it could only have been the workers.

More precisely, the great majority of workers were not able to attain class consciousness in conditions that were more or less ideal for them to do so. Marx’s error, an error which has had a far-ranging effect on the history of socialist thought and practice, is that he advances from the workers’ conditions of life to class consciousness in a single bound; the various psychological mediations united in class consciousness are treated as one. The severity of these conditions, the pressures he saw coming from material needs, and his belief that workers never lose their ability to calculate advantages made the eventual result certain and a detailed analysis of the steps involved unnecessary. Class consciousness is a more complex phenomenon-and, hence, more fraught with possibilities for failure-than Marx and most other socialists have believed.

With the extra hundred years of hindsight, one can see that what Marx treated as a relatively direct, if not easy, transition is neither. Progress from the workers’ conditions to class consciousness involves not one but many steps, each of which constitutes a real problem of achievement for some section of the working class (Nicholaus M. 1969). First, workers must recognize that they have interests. Second, they must be able to see their interests as individuals in their interests as members of a class. Third, they must be able to distinguish what Marx considers their main interests as workers from other less important economic interests.

Fourth, they must believe that their class interests come prior to their interests as members of a particular nation, religion, race, etc. Fifth, they must truly hate their capitalist exploiters. Sixth, they must have an idea, however vague, that their situation could be qualitatively improved. Seventh, they must believe that they themselves, through some means or other, can help bring about this improvement. Eighth, they must believe that Marx’s strategy, or that advocated by Marxist leaders, offers the best means for achieving their aims. And, ninth, having arrived at all the foregoing, they must not be afraid to act when the time comes. These steps are not only conceptually distinct, but they constitute the real difficulties which have kept the mass of the proletariat in all capitalist countries and in all periods from becoming class-conscious.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2009. © 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Wright Mills C. 1962, The Marxists, New York, p.115.

Lukacs G. 1971, History and Class Consciousness, trans. Rodney Livingstone ;Cambridge Mass.

Marx K. and Engels F. 1945, The Communist Manifesto, trans. Samuel Moore, Chicago.

Nicholaus M. 1969, “The Unknown Marx,” The New Left Reader; Carl Oglesby, New York.

Popkin R. H. And Stroll A. 1989, Philosophy, Heinmann, Made Simple Books.

Wolpe’s H. 1970 “Some Problems Concerning Revolutionary Consciousness,” The Socialist Register; London, Miliband R. and Saville J.

Elitist Approach Essay

Compare and Contrast Two Sociological Theories We Have Looked Essay

Compare and Contrast Two Sociological Theories We Have Looked Essay.

In this essay I am going to be looking at two of the main sociological theories; Marxism and Functionalism. In the main body of the essay I will be looking into the history of these theories, when did they become popular and why were they so? I will then make a comparison of the two to see if they contrast, if they do, how so. I will begin by looking at Marxism and secondly Functionalism. I will then be comparing and contrasting the two.

Marxism – Karl Marx was born in Germany in 1818 to reasonably affluent parents: Hirschel (a lawyer) and Henrietta Marx. Although originally Jewish, to avoid anti-Semitism, Hirschel changed to Protestantism and also adopted the more socially acceptable first name of Heinrich when Karl was a child. Marx attended Bonn University but spent most of his time socialising and, under instruction from his father moved to Berlin University. It was here that Marx met Bruno Bauer and was introduced to the writings of Hegel who impressed Marx with his theories that “a thing or thought could not be separated from its opposite.

For example, the slave could not exist without the master, and vice versa” (http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/TUmarx.htm 29-10-12) Marx moved to Cologne and it was when he was here he met Moses Hess who called himself a socialist. He attended socialist meetings where the members told him how deprived the German working class were. After hearing these stories he decided to write an article but when warned he may be arrested he decided to move to France. It was while in France that Marx started mixing with the working class for the first time. He hadn’t seen or experienced the kind of poverty in the working class as he had been used to moving in a different, more affluent social circle. Marxism is a structural theory which considers society to be divided into two main social classes; The Rulers and the Workers.

The rulers own the industries and the workers keep them running. Marx argued that the workers were exploited by the rulers as they earned a lot less money but did the bulk of the hard work. Marx believed that although the rulers owned the businesses or land required to produce society’s goods, it was the working class who kept the businesses afloat and without them, they would surely fail. This led to his believing that they were entitled to a far larger share of the profits which all ended up in the pockets of the ruling class. In Marx’ view this class difference was a cause of great conflict between the ruling class and the working class. Marxists were also of the belief that the working class were encouraged to simply accept this as their way of life; Religion, for example led them to believe that they would be justly rewarded for their hard work in this life when they got to heaven, as long as they got on with the work and didn’t make a fuss. Karl Marx called this lack of awareness False Consciousness.

Marx’s view on education was that capitalism mostly shapes it, if there was no education system then society as a whole would collapse. Although his main belief system was that education will only allow a person to remain in their existing social class; For example, If someone was to fail their education, it would be totally their fault due to either lack of effort or ability. This attitude was meant to make the lower class, accept whichever position they found themselves in after schooling was over, even though it was often due to coming from a disadvantaged background that led to failure and not as assumed, a lack of effort. The bourgeoisie and proletariat are maintained by the education system, without them there would be no goods so the bourgeoisie would not benefit. Marx was hopeful, however that one day the working class would become aware of the situation and that they could eventually overthrow the ruling class. This would lead to a new, Communist society which would be free from class conflict and exploitation.

Functionalism is a structural theory, and one of the big sociological theories. It is a top down theory that sees society as a whole, more important than the individuals within it. Society is a system, like the human body needs all its organs to keep it alive society needs all its functions to keep society going. Functionalists insist that all society’s have a basic set of need’s that need to be met in order for it to survive. The family and the education system are social institutions deemed to be in existence in order to meet these needs. In the functionalists approach to society, class and a defined structure are of great importance to maintaining a harmonious society. A functionalist perspective on the ‘functions of the family’ in society are: Sexual- making sure sexuality is of a socially approved nature, as opposed to incest or adultery for example. Reproduction- providing stability for reproducing and raising children.

Socialisation- The family is responsible for the primary socialisation of their children, making sure they teach them to behave in a socially acceptable way. Economic- the family should provide food and shelter for family members. They are of the opinion that any society can live happily if these guidelines are met within each nuclear family. The education system is seen with a very similar perspective, stating that it helps maintain societal harmony if structured properly. ** A Functionalist will put emphasis on positive aspects of education and school, like how children learn to socialise and learn the values of achievement, competition and also equal opportunities. They believe it also teaches the skills needed for economy: literacy and numeracy which are important in all occupations. Emile Durkheim was an important functionalist writer along with Talcott Parsons.

Durkheim’s ideas on education looked at the schooling system as a mini community where individuals were given varying opportunities in social situations to develop and share beliefs and values leading to a unified understanding or rules and interpretation, as well as chances to gain new skills. Parsons view on education differs slightly from that of Durkheim’s. Parsons ideas look at the time spent in education as a pathway to later life. Individuals will apply focus to aspects of education where rewards are received, outlining strengths in such individuals. This development of skills will continue into life after school. Therefore parsons believes the years of education will directly affect roles of individuals in society Together Durkheim and Parsons identified four basic functions of education: 1- Passing on society’s culture – Reaching the key functional job of passing on ‘core’ values and culture to new generations.

2- Providing a bridge between the particularistic values and ascribed status of the family and the universalistic values and achieved status of industrial society – Bridging the gap between how a child may be treated in the home, as part of a family and how they will eventually be treated as an adult in the working world. How a child is treated at home is – particularistic and outside the home will be universalistic. 3- Providing a trained and qualified labour force – The education system is believed to make sure the best and most qualified people end up doing the jobs that require the greatest skills. This is to do with division of labour, certain people are suitable for certain jobs. 4- Selecting and allocating people to roles in a meritocratic society, and legitimizing social inequality – It is a functionalist’s view that the education system is all about grading people into their appropriate societal role using tests and exams. In a meritocratic society it is down to how much effort and talent is used during school years in order to obtain the best qualifications, therefore getting the best jobs.

In summary, it is clear that there are many major differences between Marxism and Functionalism. I have concentrated a lot on the family and education in my evaluation as I believe that this aspect demonstrates quite clearly how opposing these two theories are. They vary from believing that there are two basic social classes that you are born into and cannot get out of, to the belief that with the right amount of hard work and adequate need, anyone is capable of working their way up the social strata. So is education a means for lower class to pass on their knowledge to the next generation of lower class while the ruling class excel due to so many more opportunities. Or do we have an education system where anybody can excel regardless of social or monetary status?

Compare and Contrast Two Sociological Theories We Have Looked Essay

Marxism Essay

Marxism Essay.

While Liberalism was a philosophical system that produced capitalism as an economic system, Marxism was a reflection of the problems that existed in a capitalistic society. Therefore, Marxism was the idea behind two new economic systems, socialism and communism. Liberalism is the idea of universal human rights, equality and the protection of private property. Capitalism grew from this private ownership of capital and machines and has become the dominant economic system today.

On the other hand, Marxism is a philosophic system that grew on, and intended to improve, on all of capitalisms injustices, such as lack of social justice and lack of care for the environment.

Marxism suggested that social justice should be achieved through two systems that would follow each other: Socialism, where the state would play a major role in the distribution of wealth and communism, where the ultimate goal of the human race where all the injustices would be entirely eradicated. Marxism calls for more social justice for workers.

Most modern labour laws are either based in the ideas of Marxism or were taken and extended by Marxism. Things like “minimum amount of sleep for workers,” “overtime,” “public holidays,” “maternity leave” and “education and pre-qualification for workers” were all promoted as the workers basic rights. Another major idea was the collective ownership of the means of production by workers which would take the unjust advantage of capital out of the hands of capitalist and return the added value into the rightful hands.

Social justice is prominent in another good idea of Marxism, the method of distribution. In Marxism, everyone gets what they need and produces what he can. Also, the government is responsible for social justice by enforcing a universal health care system, a free schooling system, massively educating the poorest. Eradication of illiteracy was one of the main goals of Marxism. Marxism suggested production that was driven by need, and not by profit, thus living harmoniously with the environment.

One of the major problems of Marxism is that it left revolution in the hands of the most illiterate people who did not properly express Marx’s original ideas. By giving the government a greater role in education and health, the government also was given a disproportional role in governing. All of society formed on this idea, which turned the societies into dictatorships and tyrannies. The idea of “take what you need and work as much as you can” didn’t reflect true human nature, which resulted in non-existent productivity and lazy workers that were paid to do however little work they chose.

Also, the Marxist society abandons democracy completely in favour of the workers being represented by only one party which became equal to the state. Getting workers to decide about the fate of their factories resulted in poor decisions based on lack of knowledge in management. Lots of the ideas of Marxism were devised with great optimism for human nature, but could simply not function. Any type of governing, either on a national scale or within a factory was doomed to disaster as it could not be properly enforced by democratic means.

Lack of control of government always results in tyranny. The positives of the social justice system, especially regarding education, pension and health care, far outweigh the negatives. Where people would receive equality, a good education, a safe pension and great health care they would only really lose out on control, which would not even be a problem under Marxism’s assumption that people would want to work for the greater good.

Considering these points, the system of communism (which is promoted by Marxism) would appear to be a more just system, although is not practical at all. For Marxism to be successfully implemented, very high levels of social and economic development are needed. Almost all the countries in the world lack the development required for a successful transition. As far as fairness and equality goes, Marxism would be the winner. But because it is so difficult to implement, no matter how just it isParagraph 1, it is not a practical solution.

Marxism Essay

Relevance of Marism in the 21st Century Essay

Relevance of Marism in the 21st Century Essay.

Marxism is much more than a theory or even a school of thought. The Encyclopaedia Britannica describes is a body of doctrine that was developed by Karl Marx with contributions from Friedrich Engels in the mid-19th century. Marxism is a way of viewing the world from an economic and socio-political context. Originally, Marxism consisted of three basic ideas that were in some way related to each other: a philosophical anthropology, an economic and political, and program a theory of history.

In other words, it is a combination of an economic theory, a political school of thought as well as a view of social change that was later picked up by socialist political movements across the globe. It has often been viewed as an analysis and critique of the development of the theory and practice of capitalism.

Marx’s work cannot be defined as a mere philosophy or even a philosophical system for that matter. In fact, it is a critique of philosophy, that of GWF Hegel in particular.

The basic tenet of the Marxist school of thought is that philosophy has to be translated into reality. Marx said that merely interpreting the world should not be the goal of a philosopher or a political thinker. In fact, one must work towards changing and transforming the world we live in, thereby bringing about a change in not just the society but also the human consciousness of it (Marx, 1869). Marx’s work and the ideals of Marxism were heavily associated with concepts such as appropriation, alienation, praxis, creative labour, value, and so on. The basic political thinking within Marxism is built upon the notion of positive change and that a critique of ideals is the basis of all knowledge. This way, Marxism defers from empiricism (Britannica, 2011).

Marxism has found great appeal as a political thought for several class-based revolution and have been the theoretical basis for the policies and politics of several regimes across the world. However, most governments and rulers have interpreted the political writings of Marx in their own way and consequently; several of the policies of these so-called Marxist states are often dramatically different and conflicting from the basis of Marxism.

Marxist View of State

The Marxist theory on states can be roughly divided into three main focal areas: pre-capitalist states, capitalist states and the state in the post-capitalist society. According to Marxism, the civil society and the state are two different instruments. However, Marx did admit that there were some limitations to such a model as a political state always needs the guarantee of spheres that lie outside of it (Marx, 1843). This implies that the state is actually something that has a bourgeois interest, at least economically. Marxism refers to the state as a ‘committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie’ (Marx, 1846). In a way, Early Marxism looks at state from an economic perspective. In viewing the state and its functions, Marxism adopts a strict economic interpretation of history.

According to Marxism, in every state, the production relations of the people are determined by the forces of production in the state, and these production relations later tend to condition all other relations, which includes the political as well. In a capitalist state, the economy and consequently the state are controlled by the bourgeois and the state in itself is rendered to becoming nothing more than just an instrument of class rule. So as the bourgeois accumulate more and more wealth and property through the development of industry and commerce, it is the individuals that grow richer and richer while the state continues to fall into considerable debt.

However, Marx later made some modifications to this thought allowing certain amount of autonomy for the state. Here Marx contended that in some states, the bourgeois do not wield the power directly as they realize that the disadvantages of doing so are far greater than any potential advantages. Hence, in such a state they allow any aristocratic government to hold on to power as long as its policies are not detrimental to their interests. Such an indirect wielding of power also shields the bourgeois from a proletariat attack (Marx, 1963).

Hence, it can be said that Marxism views the state as an instrument of bourgeois control, which is directed at the accumulation of wealth and power for them. When the bourgeois control the state, the working class cannot rise up and cannot find ways to prosper as they cannot break the existing shackles of class boundaries and find ways to make it own their own without the help of the ruling class.

Marxism as a Social Thought

Marxism lays special emphasis on understanding the distinction of the classes as Marx found it important in order to better understand the nature and functioning of capitalism. Marxism defines and structures classes based on their relations concerning either work and labour or the means of production and ownership of property. For a capitalist society, these divisions can perfectly define the classes that exist in them much better than earlier societies which included classes of nobility as well. On these bases, Marxism divides the society into two main classes i.e. the bourgeois and the proletariat where the former are the ruling class and own the means of production as well as much of the property in the state while the latter are the working labor class that work towards the production of all goods but do not own anything other than labor power.

In a capitalist society, any surplus production at the hands of the working class turns into capital and ends up in the hands of the ruling class and the working class are left as property-less members of the proletariat. Marxism maintains that individuals form a class only when they have common interests and can hence, wage a common battle against another class, or else they would continue to be competitors for one another (Marx, 1846).

Consequently, a class struggle soon emerges as the two basic classes in the society harbour conflicting interests and yet have to work with one another in order to survive. The capitalists i.e. the ruling class intends to reduce wages as much as they can and still have the workers working at their hardest as that will ensure maximum production at minimum investment, which would be in their favour. However, the workers on the other hand, want the diametrical opposite of that and this contradiction forms the basis of a class struggle in Marxism.

Historical Materialism- In order to understand the framework of the society under the Marxist scheme of things, Marx introduced a methodical approach for studying economics, society and history, known as historical materialism. The term itself, came into being much later and Marx himself referred to it as ‘the materialist conception of history.’ Historical materialism looks at all non-economic features of the society such as social classes, political structures and ideologies as derivatives of the society’s economics itself. It tries to find the root causes of growth and changes in the history of mankind, particularly pertaining to those the means employed by humans to produce the essentials of life.

Marxian economy, in its essence, is different from Marxism as a political ideology or a sociological theory as many critics argue that Marx’s understanding of economics is independent of his political thought of revolutionary socialism (Munro, 2007). According to Marxian economics, the value of a good or service is determined by the socially necessary labor time that is invested in it. Since the capitalists only pay the workers as less as they can afford to pay without inciting a large scale rebellion in them, the workers only receive a fraction of what they should be receiving. As a consequence of this, the extra amount i.e. the surplus is pocketed by the capitalists and does not help the state or the society in any way. This led to Marx coining the term ‘commodity fetishism’, which refers to the blurring of the social relationships and process of production by the market forces.

Criticisms of Marxism

Over the years, Marxism has probably attracted more critics and detractors than any other political thought or philosophical school in the recent times.

• The biggest criticism levelled upon Marxism is that it might be a steady principle but it has never translated into good practice. Critics point to historical examples saying that it has been in the nature of Marxist states to turn into totalitarian regimes rather than lead to a condition of equality and cohesion between the classes. Ideally, the ruling class should fade away in a Marxist state and the proletariat should be liberated. This way the class differences will cease to exist. But as in the former Soviet Union, the Marxist governments often turn into ruling classes themselves, unleashing a new wave of terror, oppression and wide-ranging class disparity (Williams, 1977).

• Critics have claimed that Marxism and neo-Marxism are both unscientific in their methodology. In particular, they say that neo-Marxism is not a theory as it cannot be tested and possibly falsified. This is mainly because it involves the replacement of Capitalism by Communism as “historically inevitable”.

• Marxism calls for redistribution of land and production in order for a nation to transit from a capitalist economy and society to a communist one. Pro-capitalist economies have called this a form of coercion as the political leaders will have absolute powers in the absence of any market exchange. Many critics say that this way a truly Marxist society would erode the basic rights of its citizens.

• Anarchists like Bakunin have argued that Marxism is the first step towards coercion and eventually state domination, and that under Marxism, one day the state will be controlled by despots and a select few of autocracy (Bellamy, 2003). Even if this autocracy emerges from the proletariat, their new-found power will soon transform them into bourgeois and they will tend to look down upon the working class.

• Gandhi was a vocal critic of the Marxism’s ‘end justifies means’ outlook when he proposed that end and means are inseparable. However, this is one of Marxism’s tangential developments and not one that Marx had proposed initially. Instead, this was developed much later by the Bolsheviks and specifically by Trotsky. He said that the means are subordinated by the end. Many thinkers and philosophers have criticized this approach in Marxist thinking as this readily implies that if you are not agreeing with Marxist thinking, then you are hindering progress. It leaves no room for freedom of political thought.

• Economists have proposed a huge problem in the Marxist economics by pointing out the economic calculation problem in the central economic planning in a Marxist state. This problem concerns with the question of how to distribute resources and/or wealth in a Marxist economy. In a free market, people have the freedom of choosing how goods have to be distributed as they have the option of paying for what they choose. This creates a trend in which the demand of the goods and the supply of resources become embedded and economists say this is the only solution for the problem. As a result, they argue that a planned socialist economy can never work.

• Critics of the concept of egalitarian or utopian socialism argue that the concept of income sharing actually reduces the incentives to work for the common working class man. Since everybody holds equal wealth in a Marxist society, critics say that no one has any material incentive to work extra hard because they would not be receiving any extra reward for extra work. If this is continued over a long period of time, the workers will not work to their full potentials due to the lack of motivation and the production will suffer. This can eventually lead to economic stagnation throughout the state.

Pro-capitalist advocates have maintained that the Marxian conception of society is a flawed one and that on an empirical and epistemological level, the whole doctrine is flawed. Critics also say that since it is not falsifiable, it cannot be considered an actual science. In fact, academic Karl Popper once stated that had Marxism been scientific and falsifiable from the very beginning, its flaws could have been corrected today, but now it has been reduced to a pseudo-science.

Relevance of Marxism Today

The biggest question between the advocates and critics of the Marxist theory is that whether it has any relevance in the modern world or not. Marx proposed his ideas for the industrializing world of the 19th century, and in fact, 19th century Europe to be more specific. It is vital to know whether those ideas can still be applied to the prevailing social and economic conditions in the 21st century modern world. Many believe that Marx’s theory is the theory of our time since the prevailing conditions have not changed drastically since Marx’s time and hence, the theory holds substance. However, both economically and politically, the world of the 21st century is drastically different from the world of Marx’s day and age.

The biggest difference between the two times is that today there are more social classes than Marx had described. Marxism only talks about two social classes- the bourgeois and the proletariat. However, with economic proliferation and changes in the global economic structure, several new classes have emerged, such as the landlords and the middle class, which Marx had not envisioned. Middle class, or petty bourgeois as some academics call it, has been one major issue with the Marxist thinkers in the 21st century. Marx was of the view that with time, the middle class would merge into the bourgeois and the class distinction would become more pronounced. However, even one and a half century later, the middle class is still going strong and in some societies is the major force behind the economic process (Mohan, 2002). This is a major drawback that makes Marxism somewhat irrelevant in today’s times.

One of Marxism’s basic assertions is that the class structure is too rigid to be broken by individuals alone and has to be transformed by revolutions instead. Marx felt it was necessary because without a social revolution, the proletariat did not have the means or the opportunities to make it on their own. However, history has been abundant with examples of working class success stories, particularly in the capitalist societies like America. In the 21st century, this assertion has been left meaningless with the emergence of so many new avenues of generating income for the working class (Tetsuzo, 2006). With internet based businesses and the rise of self-made entrepreneurs, Marx’s claim has become somewhat obsolete. Another nail in the coffin for this assertion has been the widespread acceptance to sports as a career and a means of livelihood, which has enabled many working class citizens to earn money without the interference of the bourgeois.

The recent economic crisis has been a real eye-opener for many o Marxism’s ardent supporters. Marx suggested that a great economic crisis could only take place when the whole system would crumble. Hence, Marxism doctrine maintained that the finances would never be short as the institutions forming the great economic system could never fail individually and that it would always be the system that would fail as a whole if such a situation arose. However, the recent economic downturn showed exactly the opposite as individual institutions went bankrupt one after the other (Lebowitz, 2007). This created a sort of domino effect leading to an overall collapse of the entire system, and not the other way round.

Marx maintained that without the services provided by the labour class, no production could be achieved. He was of the view that in order for the bourgeois or the capitalist class to make money, they would always require services from the working class. However, many individuals from capitalist class have ventured into alternate business fields like writing, entrepreneurship, etc. which do not require any involvement of the working class.

Neo-Marxism- Proponents of the Marxist school of thought have tried to keep it alive in the contemporary world by applying the elements of other intellectual traditions to the classical Marxist theory and given rise to what many term as ‘Neo-Marxism.’ Neo-Marxism, as the name suggests is an extension or a sort of an amendment to the Marxist theory, which has gained prominence in the second half of the 20th century. But the truth is that even Neo-Marxist thought has undergone substantial changes in the last few decades and many are beginning to question the relevance of this school of thought in the 21st century.

Researchers and analysts have stated time and again that slowly and gradually the classic schools of neo-Marxist theory are declining in utility and significance constantly. In fact, many believe that this decrease in significance of the neo-Marxist ideology is a direct result of the fact that Marx’s own ideas are now slowly losing their importance globally. In fact, the post-Marxist thinkers are now drawing less from the Marxist theory and the neo-Marxist ideologies and more from other different intellectual tradition (Ritzer and Schuebert, 1991).

The biggest blow to Marxism has probably been the unexpected stability of Capitalism. As an economic and political system, Capitalism has proven to be much more durable and flexible than Marx had maintained. Hence, critics of the Marxist school of thought argue that the advent of Communism does not appear imminent in modern social systems.

References:

Bellamy, R. (2003) “The Cambridge History of Twentieth-Century Political Thought.” pp. 60. Cambridge University Press.

Britannica – Encyclopaedia (2011). “Marxism.”

Lebowitz, M.A. (2007). “Marxism for the 21st Century – a revolutionary tool or more scholasticism?” Radical Notes.

Marx, K. (1843). “Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right.”

Marx, K. (1846). “The Communist Manifesto.”

Marx, K. (1869). “Capital: Critique of Political Economy.”

Marx, K. (1963). “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.” New York: International Publishers. p 49.

Mohan, S. (2002). “Relevance of Karl Marx and Gandhi in 21st Century.” PUCL Bulletin.

Munro, J. (2007). “Some Basic Principles of Marxian Economics.” University of Toronto.

Ritzer, G and Schubert, D.J. (1991). “The Changing Nature of Neo-Marxist Theory: A Metatheoretical Analysis.” College Park. Sociological Perspectives.

Tetsuzo, F. (2006). “Marxism and the 21st Century World.” Lecture at the
Communist Party of China’s Academy of Social Sciences. Beijing.

Williams, R. (1977). “Marxism and Literature.” New York. Oxford University Press.

Relevance of Marism in the 21st Century Essay

Development Studies Essay

Development Studies Essay.

This essay is aimed at comparing and contrasting structural functionalism with the Marxist and the noe-marxist theories to social change, how they best describe social change in less developed countries; in this case Zambia. The paper is to also outline the relevance of the two approaches and come up with one that offers the best approach as in the case of Zambia. Social change refers to the structural transformation of political, social, cultural, and economic systems and institutions to create a more stable society.

It can also be defined as change in social structure, the nature of the institutions, social behavior or the social relations of the society or community of people. When behavior pattern changes in large numbers and is visible and sustained, it results in social change. Once there is deviance from culturally inherited values, rebellion against the established system may result causing change in social order, any event or action that affects a group of individuals who have shared values of characteristics (Herman, Nancy J and Reynolds, Larry T: 1994).

Structural functionalism is defined as a sociological theory that originally attempted to explain social institutions as collective means to meet individual biological needs ( Giddens, 2006). Structural functionalism to sociological analysis is basically an equilibrium theory. The system is said to be in equilibrium when its component parts are so compatible with each other, denying an outside disturbance, none of them will change its position or relation to others in any significant way.

An equilibrium system is said to be stable when a slight change in external conditions creates internal variations whose own effects is equal and opposite to the initial disturbance, thereby moving the system back to its former position of rest. It is said to be unstable when the initial disturbance creates movement that feeds on its relationships, thereby displacing the system further from its original position of rest (Davies, K:1959). Structural functionalism can also be defined as a sociological paradigm which addresses social functions and various elements of the social system perform in regard to the entire system.

Social structures are stressed and placed at the centre of analysis and social functions are deduced from these structures(ibid). Functionalist believe that one can compare society to a living organism, in that both society and a living organism are made up of interdependent working parts and systems that must function. Functionalists say that the different parts of society e. g family, education, religion, law and order, media etc. have to be seen in terms of contribution that they make to the functioning of the whole society.

This organism analogy sees the different parts of society working together to form a social system in the same way that the different parts of an organism form a cohesive functioning entity. In relation to the case of Zambia, structural functionalism is relevant in understanding social change. It is relevant in that it provides general guidelines for behavior in terms of norms. These institutions of society such as family, religion, the economy, law and order, the educational and political systems are major aspects of social structure.

A practical example of an institution that is relevant in Zambia is a family. According to Glencoe (1995;114), the family is the first social world a child encounters, and members are the mirror in which children begin to see themselves. It is the first group whose norms and values children adopt as their own and refer to in evaluating behavior. Historical analysis also demonstrates that across time, the family has provided many important functions for society.

Functionalists believe that mass formal education is an essential part of an industrial society, and that expansion of industrial society, and that expansion of the industrial economies brings a corresponding expansion in the education system, they also see the introduction of mass education as a response to the increasing demand of the industry. Educational institutions such as colleges, Universities and schools in Zambia help in the development process of Zambian society. Glencoe (1995:118) adds that in modern society, school is a primary agent for weaning children from home and introducing them to the larger society.

He further adds that educational institutions have rules and regulations to control those in there hence not only educating them but giving and teaching them rules that will help them live better lives in society. The mass media is one institution that is also very vital. The forms that reach large numbers of people in form of, Television, radio, and books are all important in that they contribute in being a watch dog, a channel of communication, an educative means and ways in which people express themselves (ibid).

Another example of social change is technology influx in recent years such as email, cell phones and online social networks. Each part of the institutions mentioned and listed does something to serve a function or purpose in the Zambia social change. People who employ functionalism view society as a set of interrelated parts that work together to produce a stable social system. The theory of belongs to a board theories that are referred to as radical theories of development. The theories are further explained in terms of materialism which are dialectical and historical.

By materialism Karl Marx meant that the economic structure of society was the foundation or basis on which the whole society is built (Andropove, V: 1983). In Marxist theories, the division of society into classes is determined by the position within the process of production. Economic development gives rise to these classes and assumes different relationships to the process of production. Marxism hence is the name given to the body of ideas, which in their totality provide a fully worked out theoretical basis for the struggle of the working class to attain a higher form of human society (ibid).

Class consciousness consists of the appropriate and rational reactions imputed to a particular typical position in the process of production. This consciousness is therefore, neither the sum nor the average of what is thought or felt by the single individuals who make up the class. The historical significant actions of the class as a whole are determined in the last resort by this consciousness and not by the thoughts of the individual. These actions can be understood only by reference to this consciousness (Klaus, W:1989). Karl Marx and Engels state 5 stages in which a human society has to pass through in order for it to develop.

These include primitive, feudalism, capitalism, socialism and communism. Primitive society is the first stage of development of human society and arises from the differentiation of man from the animal kingdom (Popkin, H. R: 1986). Feudalism is the second stage of social development according to Marxism. At this stage, the land lords and nobles comprised of dominant classes and the peasants or serfs that belonged to the exploited class. Capitalism is the third stage and it involves the private ownership of the means of production.

In capitalism, there is an emergence of two classes, that is, the bourgeoisies as the owners of capital and the proletariat as the working class (Johari, J: 1989). Socialism is the fourth stage under Marxism. In socialism, the state has an important role to play on the part of resource allocation. The state is responsible to ensure that all members of society have equal and equitable access to resources. The last stage is Communism according to Marxism. A communist society is one having neither class nor state and all resources in society are equally and equitably distributed. A Communist state can be referred to as a workers paradise.

The neo-Marxists on the other hand, after seeing the failure of working-class revolutions in Western Europe after World War I, chose the parts of Marx’s thought that might clarify social conditions that were not present when Marx was alive. They filled in what they perceived to be omissions in Marxism with ideas from other schools of thought. Neo-Marxists view class divisions under capitalism as more important than gender/sex divisions or issues of race and ethnicity. Neo-Marxism encompasses a group of beliefs that have in common rejection of economic or class determinism and a belief in at least the semiautonomy of the social sphere.

From the above information provided, it can be deduced that despite Marxism, and Neo-Marxism and the Structural functionalism having different approaches to social change, they both place an emphasis on the importance of society in which all the members benefit and the how the society develops as it improves on the living conditions of its people. Both Marxism, and Neo-Marxist and Structural functionalism emphasize that inequality should exist in order for social change to take place. In Marxism bourgeoisie pay the proletariat low wages for their labour.

Structural functionalists state that wages must be given to workers in order for them to carry out their work of which in most cases tend to be low. They also emphasize on the need of the use of force in the process of social change. In the Marxist theory, serfs are treated like slaves in that they are forced to do hard work by the land lords despite low wages. Force is used to control the serfs. In structural functionalism, people who go against the norms, values and rules governing a society are to be punished by some administration of justice.

In both Marxist, and Neo-Marxist and Structural functionalism, members of society have roles to play in order for society to develop and progress. This means that individuals are significant not only in themselves but also in terms of their position in patterns of social relations. One of the differences between Marxist, Neo-Marxist and the Structural functionalism is that in Marxism, social change occurs revolutionary while as for structural functionalism, social change occurs evolutionary without conflicts. Marxism holds the belief that in order for social change to take place, conflicts hould exist in order for society to progress. Unlike structural functionalism, Marxism emphasizes on formation of a society comprised of classes. The classes include the serfs and the land lords in feudalism, the proletariat and the bourgeoisies in capitalism. Structural functionalism emphasizes on different parts of society such institutions and organizations working together in order for society to survive while Marxism and Neo-Marxism states that members of society function for their survival and not necessarily for society, for example; the bourgeoisie and the proletariat in capitalism.

Unlike Marxism, structural functionalism does not contain a sense of agency that individuals are seen as puppets only acting as society requires and the most sophisticated forms of functionalism are based on highly developed concept of actions. In conclusion, structural functionalism better explains achievement of social change in less developed countries like Zambia as compared to the Marxist and Neo-Marxist theories to social change, the Marxist and Neo-Marxist do not offer a valid explanation in the case of Zambia because they advocated for socialism as the ultimate solution towards betterment of society.

Structural functionalism may hence be feasible as in the case of the Zambian situation. However, it does not apply to the present day situation because it was used to explain economic situations in most developed countries which can not apply in the case of the Zambian situation. I This essay is aimed at comparing and contrasting structural functionalism with the Marxist and the noe-marxist theories to social change, how they best describe social change in less developed countries; in this case Zambia.

The paper is to also outline the relevance of the two approaches and come up with one that offers the best approach as in the case of Zambia. Social change refers to the structural transformation of political, social, cultural, and economic systems and institutions to create a more stable society. It can also be defined as change in social structure, the nature of the institutions, social behavior or the social relations of the society or community of people. When behavior pattern changes in large numbers and is isible and sustained, it results in social change. Once there is deviance from culturally inherited values, rebellion against the established system may result causing change in social order, any event or action that affects a group of individuals who have shared values of characteristics (Herman, Nancy J and Reynolds, Larry T: 1994). Structural functionalism is defined as a sociological theory that originally attempted to explain social institutions as collective means to meet individual biological needs ( Giddens, 2006).

Structural functionalism to sociological analysis is basically an equilibrium theory. The system is said to be in equilibrium when its component parts are so compatible with each other, denying an outside disturbance, none of them will change its position or relation to others in any significant way. An equilibrium system is said to be stable when a slight change in external conditions creates internal variations whose own effects is equal and opposite to the initial disturbance, thereby moving the system back to its former position of rest.

It is said to be unstable when the initial disturbance creates movement that feeds on its relationships, thereby displacing the system further from its original position of rest (Davies, K:1959). Structural functionalism can also be defined as a sociological paradigm which addresses social functions and various elements of the social system perform in regard to the entire system. Social structures are stressed and placed at the centre of analysis and social functions are deduced from these structures(ibid).

Functionalist believe that one can compare society to a living organism, in that both society and a living organism are made up of interdependent working parts and systems that must function. Functionalists say that the different parts of society e. g family, education, religion, law and order, media etc. have to be seen in terms of contribution that they make to the functioning of the whole society. This organism analogy sees the different parts of society working together to form a social system in the same way that the different parts of an organism form a cohesive functioning entity.

In relation to the case of Zambia, structural functionalism is relevant in understanding social change. It is relevant in that it provides general guidelines for behavior in terms of norms. These institutions of society such as family, religion, the economy, law and order, the educational and political systems are major aspects of social structure. A practical example of an institution that is relevant in Zambia is a family. According to Glencoe (1995;114), the family is the first social world a child encounters, and members are the mirror in which children begin to see themselves.

It is the first group whose norms and values children adopt as their own and refer to in evaluating behavior. Historical analysis also demonstrates that across time, the family has provided many important functions for society. Functionalists believe that mass formal education is an essential part of an industrial society, and that expansion of industrial society, and that expansion of the industrial economies brings a corresponding expansion in the education system, they also see the introduction of mass education as a response to the increasing demand of the industry.

Educational institutions such as colleges, Universities and schools in Zambia help in the development process of Zambian society. Glencoe (1995:118) adds that in modern society, school is a primary agent for weaning children from home and introducing them to the larger society. He further adds that educational institutions have rules and regulations to control those in there hence not only educating them but giving and teaching them rules that will help them live better lives in society. The mass media is one institution that is also very vital.

The forms that reach large numbers of people in form of, Television, radio, and books are all important in that they contribute in being a watch dog, a channel of communication, an educative means and ways in which people express themselves (ibid). Another example of social change is technology influx in recent years such as email, cell phones and online social networks. Each part of the institutions mentioned and listed does something to serve a function or purpose in the Zambia social change.

People who employ functionalism view society as a set of interrelated parts that work together to produce a stable social system. The theory of belongs to a board theories that are referred to as radical theories of development. The theories are further explained in terms of materialism which are dialectical and historical. By materialism Karl Marx meant that the economic structure of society was the foundation or basis on which the whole society is built (Andropove, V: 1983). In Marxist theories, the division of society into classes is determined by the position within the process of production.

Economic development gives rise to these classes and assumes different relationships to the process of production. Marxism hence is the name given to the body of ideas, which in their totality provide a fully worked out theoretical basis for the struggle of the working class to attain a higher form of human society (ibid). Class consciousness consists of the appropriate and rational reactions imputed to a particular typical position in the process of production. This consciousness is therefore, neither the sum nor the average of what is thought or felt by the single individuals who make up the class.

The historical significant actions of the class as a whole are determined in the last resort by this consciousness and not by the thoughts of the individual. These actions can be understood only by reference to this consciousness (Klaus, W:1989). Karl Marx and Engels state 5 stages in which a human society has to pass through in order for it to develop. These include primitive, feudalism, capitalism, socialism and communism. Primitive society is the first stage of development of human society and arises from the differentiation of man from the animal kingdom (Popkin, H.

R: 1986). Feudalism is the second stage of social development according to Marxism. At this stage, the land lords and nobles comprised of dominant classes and the peasants or serfs that belonged to the exploited class. Capitalism is the third stage and it involves the private ownership of the means of production. In capitalism, there is an emergence of two classes, that is, the bourgeoisies as the owners of capital and the proletariat as the working class (Johari, J: 1989).

Socialism is the fourth stage under Marxism. In socialism, the state has an important role to play on the part of resource allocation. The state is responsible to ensure that all members of society have equal and equitable access to resources. The last stage is Communism according to Marxism. A communist society is one having neither class nor state and all resources in society are equally and equitably distributed. A Communist state can be referred to as a workers paradise.

The neo-Marxists on the other hand, after seeing the failure of working-class revolutions in Western Europe after World War I, chose the parts of Marx’s thought that might clarify social conditions that were not present when Marx was alive. They filled in what they perceived to be omissions in Marxism with ideas from other schools of thought. Neo-Marxists view class divisions under capitalism as more important than gender/sex divisions or issues of race and ethnicity. Neo-Marxism encompasses a group of beliefs that have in common rejection of economic or class determinism nd a belief in at least the semiautonomy of the social sphere. From the above information provided, it can be deduced that despite Marxism, and Neo-Marxism and the Structural functionalism having different approaches to social change, they both place an emphasis on the importance of society in which all the members benefit and the how the society develops as it improves on the living conditions of its people. Both Marxism, and Neo-Marxist and Structural functionalism emphasize that inequality should exist in order for social change to take place.

In Marxism bourgeoisie pay the proletariat low wages for their labour. Structural functionalists state that wages must be given to workers in order for them to carry out their work of which in most cases tend to be low. They also emphasize on the need of the use of force in the process of social change. In the Marxist theory, serfs are treated like slaves in that they are forced to do hard work by the land lords despite low wages. Force is used to control the serfs. In structural functionalism, people who go against the norms, values and rules governing a society are to be punished by some administration of justice.

In both Marxist, and Neo-Marxist and Structural functionalism, members of society have roles to play in order for society to develop and progress. This means that individuals are significant not only in themselves but also in terms of their position in patterns of social relations. One of the differences between Marxist, Neo-Marxist and the Structural functionalism is that in Marxism, social change occurs revolutionary while as for structural functionalism, social change occurs evolutionary without conflicts. Marxism holds the belief that in order for social change to take place, conflicts should exist in order for society to progress.

Unlike structural functionalism, Marxism emphasizes on formation of a society comprised of classes. The classes include the serfs and the land lords in feudalism, the proletariat and the bourgeoisies in capitalism. Structural functionalism emphasizes on different parts of society such institutions and organizations working together in order for society to survive while Marxism and Neo-Marxism states that members of society function for their survival and not necessarily for society, for example; the bourgeoisie and the proletariat in capitalism.

Unlike Marxism, structural functionalism does not contain a sense of agency that individuals are seen as puppets only acting as society requires and the most sophisticated forms of functionalism are based on highly developed concept of actions. In conclusion, structural functionalism better explains achievement of social change in less developed countries like Zambia as compared to the Marxist and Neo-Marxist theories to social change, the Marxist and Neo-Marxist do not offer a valid explanation in the case of Zambia because they advocated for socialism as the ultimate solution towards betterment of society.

Structural functionalism may hence be feasible as in the case of the Zambian situation. However, it does not apply to the present day situation because it was used to explain economic situations in most developed countries which can not apply in the case of the Zambian situation. I This essay is aimed at comparing and contrasting structural functionalism with the Marxist and the noe-marxist theories to social change, how they best describe social change in less developed countries; in this case Zambia.

The paper is to also outline the relevance of the two approaches and come up with one that offers the best approach as in the case of Zambia. Social change refers to the structural transformation of political, social, cultural, and economic systems and institutions to create a more stable society. It can also be defined as change in social structure, the nature of the institutions, social behavior or the social relations of the society or community of people. When behavior pattern changes in large numbers and is visible and sustained, it results in social change.

Once there is deviance from culturally inherited values, rebellion against the established system may result causing change in social order, any event or action that affects a group of individuals who have shared values of characteristics (Herman, Nancy J and Reynolds, Larry T: 1994). Structural functionalism is defined as a sociological theory that originally attempted to explain social institutions as collective means to meet individual biological needs ( Giddens, 2006).

Structural functionalism to sociological analysis is basically an equilibrium theory. The system is said to be in equilibrium when its component parts are so compatible with each other, denying an outside disturbance, none of them will change its position or relation to others in any significant way. An equilibrium system is said to be stable when a slight change in external conditions creates internal variations whose own effects is equal and opposite to the initial disturbance, thereby moving the system back to its former position of rest.

It is said to be unstable when the initial disturbance creates movement that feeds on its relationships, thereby displacing the system further from its original position of rest (Davies, K:1959). Structural functionalism can also be defined as a sociological paradigm which addresses social functions and various elements of the social system perform in regard to the entire system. Social structures are stressed and placed at the centre of analysis and social functions are deduced from these structures(ibid).

Functionalist believe that one can compare society to a living organism, in that both society and a living organism are made up of interdependent working parts and systems that must function. Functionalists say that the different parts of society e. g family, education, religion, law and order, media etc. have to be seen in terms of contribution that they make to the functioning of the whole society. This organism analogy sees the different parts of society working together to form a social system in the same way that the different parts of an organism form a cohesive functioning entity.

In relation to the case of Zambia, structural functionalism is relevant in understanding social change. It is relevant in that it provides general guidelines for behavior in terms of norms. These institutions of society such as family, religion, the economy, law and order, the educational and political systems are major aspects of social structure. A practical example of an institution that is relevant in Zambia is a family. According to Glencoe (1995;114), the family is the first social world a child encounters, and members are the mirror in which children begin to see themselves.

It is the first group whose norms and values children adopt as their own and refer to in evaluating behavior. Historical analysis also demonstrates that across time, the family has provided many important functions for society. Functionalists believe that mass formal education is an essential part of an industrial society, and that expansion of industrial society, and that expansion of the industrial economies brings a corresponding expansion in the education system, they also see the introduction of mass education as a esponse to the increasing demand of the industry. Educational institutions such as colleges, Universities and schools in Zambia help in the development process of Zambian society. Glencoe (1995:118) adds that in modern society, school is a primary agent for weaning children from home and introducing them to the larger society. He further adds that educational institutions have rules and regulations to control those in there hence not only educating them but giving and teaching them rules that will help them live better lives in society.

The mass media is one institution that is also very vital. The forms that reach large numbers of people in form of, Television, radio, and books are all important in that they contribute in being a watch dog, a channel of communication, an educative means and ways in which people express themselves (ibid). Another example of social change is technology influx in recent years such as email, cell phones and online social networks. Each part of the institutions mentioned and listed does something to serve a function or purpose in the Zambia social change.

People who employ functionalism view society as a set of interrelated parts that work together to produce a stable social system. The theory of belongs to a board theories that are referred to as radical theories of development. The theories are further explained in terms of materialism which are dialectical and historical. By materialism Karl Marx meant that the economic structure of society was the foundation or basis on which the whole society is built (Andropove, V: 1983). In Marxist theories, the division of society into classes is determined by the position within the process of production.

Economic development gives rise to these classes and assumes different relationships to the process of production. Marxism hence is the name given to the body of ideas, which in their totality provide a fully worked out theoretical basis for the struggle of the working class to attain a higher form of human society (ibid). Class consciousness consists of the appropriate and rational reactions imputed to a particular typical position in the process of production. This consciousness is therefore, neither the sum nor the average of what is thought or felt by the single individuals who make up the class.

The historical significant actions of the class as a whole are determined in the last resort by this consciousness and not by the thoughts of the individual. These actions can be understood only by reference to this consciousness (Klaus, W:1989). Karl Marx and Engels state 5 stages in which a human society has to pass through in order for it to develop. These include primitive, feudalism, capitalism, socialism and communism. Primitive society is the first stage of development of human society and arises from the differentiation of man from the animal kingdom (Popkin, H.

R: 1986). Feudalism is the second stage of social development according to Marxism. At this stage, the land lords and nobles comprised of dominant classes and the peasants or serfs that belonged to the exploited class. Capitalism is the third stage and it involves the private ownership of the means of production. In capitalism, there is an emergence of two classes, that is, the bourgeoisies as the owners of capital and the proletariat as the working class (Johari, J: 1989).

Socialism is the fourth stage under Marxism. In socialism, the state has an important role to play on the part of resource allocation. The state is responsible to ensure that all members of society have equal and equitable access to resources. The last stage is Communism according to Marxism. A communist society is one having neither class nor state and all resources in society are equally and equitably distributed. A Communist state can be referred to as a workers paradise.

The neo-Marxists on the other hand, after seeing the failure of working-class revolutions in Western Europe after World War I, chose the parts of Marx’s thought that might clarify social conditions that were not present when Marx was alive. They filled in what they perceived to be omissions in Marxism with ideas from other schools of thought. Neo-Marxists view class divisions under capitalism as more important than gender/sex divisions or issues of race and ethnicity. Neo-Marxism encompasses a group of beliefs that have in common rejection of economic or class determinism and a belief in at least the semiautonomy of the social sphere.

From the above information provided, it can be deduced that despite Marxism, and Neo-Marxism and the Structural functionalism having different approaches to social change, they both place an emphasis on the importance of society in which all the members benefit and the how the society develops as it improves on the living conditions of its people. Both Marxism, and Neo-Marxist and Structural functionalism emphasize that inequality should exist in order for social change to take place. In Marxism bourgeoisie pay the proletariat low wages for their labour.

Structural functionalists state that wages must be given to workers in order for them to carry out their work of which in most cases tend to be low. They also emphasize on the need of the use of force in the process of social change. In the Marxist theory, serfs are treated like slaves in that they are forced to do hard work by the land lords despite low wages. Force is used to control the serfs. In structural functionalism, people who go against the norms, values and rules governing a society are to be punished by some administration of justice.

In both Marxist, and Neo-Marxist and Structural functionalism, members of society have roles to play in order for society to develop and progress. This means that individuals are significant not only in themselves but also in terms of their position in patterns of social relations. One of the differences between Marxist, Neo-Marxist and the Structural functionalism is that in Marxism, social change occurs revolutionary while as for structural functionalism, social change occurs evolutionary without conflicts. Marxism holds the belief that in order for social change to take place, conflicts should exist in order for society to progress.

Unlike structural functionalism, Marxism emphasizes on formation of a society comprised of classes. The classes include the serfs and the land lords in feudalism, the proletariat and the bourgeoisies in capitalism. Structural functionalism emphasizes on different parts of society such institutions and organizations working together in order for society to survive while Marxism and Neo-Marxism states that members of society function for their survival and not necessarily for society, for example; the bourgeoisie and the proletariat in capitalism.

Unlike Marxism, structural functionalism does not contain a sense of agency that individuals are seen as puppets only acting as society requires and the most sophisticated forms of functionalism are based on highly developed concept of actions. In conclusion, structural functionalism better explains achievement of social change in less developed countries like Zambia as compared to the Marxist and Neo-Marxist theories to social change, the Marxist and Neo-Marxist do not offer a valid explanation in the case of Zambia because they advocated for socialism as the ultimate solution towards betterment of society.

Structural functionalism may hence be feasible as in the case of the Zambian situation. However, it does not apply to the present day situation because it was used to explain economic situations in most developed countries which can not apply in the case of the Zambian situation. I BIBLIOGRAPHY Andropove, V. (1983) Karl Marx and Our Time, Progress Publishers, Moscow. Davies, K. (1959) The Myth of Functional Analysis as a Special Method in Sociology and Anthropology. American Social Review. Herman, Nancy J. and Reynolds, Larry T. 994. Symbolic Interaction: An Introduction to Social Psychology. Altamira Press Johari, J. (1989) Principles of Modern Political Science. New York Publishers, New York. Klaus, W. (1989) Beyond Political Independence. New York Publishers, New York. Popkin, H. R (1986) Philosophy Made Simple, Oxford Press, Oxford. This essay is aimed at comparing and contrasting structural functionalism with the Marxist and the noe-marxist theories to social change, how they best describe social change in less developed countries; in this case Zambia.

The paper is to also outline the relevance of the two approaches and come up with one that offers the best approach as in the case of Zambia. Social change refers to the structural transformation of political, social, cultural, and economic systems and institutions to create a more stable society. It can also be defined as change in social structure, the nature of the institutions, social behavior or the social relations of the society or community of people. When behavior pattern changes in large numbers and is visible and sustained, it results in social change.

Once there is deviance from culturally inherited values, rebellion against the established system may result causing change in social order, any event or action that affects a group of individuals who have shared values of characteristics (Herman, Nancy J and Reynolds, Larry T: 1994). Structural functionalism is defined as a sociological theory that originally attempted to explain social institutions as collective means to meet individual biological needs ( Giddens, 2006).

Structural functionalism to sociological analysis is basically an equilibrium theory. The system is said to be in equilibrium when its component parts are so compatible with each other, denying an outside disturbance, none of them will change its position or relation to others in any significant way. An equilibrium system is said to be stable when a slight change in external conditions creates internal variations whose own effects is equal and opposite to the initial disturbance, thereby moving the system back to its former position of rest.

It is said to be unstable when the initial disturbance creates movement that feeds on its relationships, thereby displacing the system further from its original position of rest (Davies, K:1959). Structural functionalism can also be defined as a sociological paradigm which addresses social functions and various elements of the social system perform in regard to the entire system. Social structures are stressed and placed at the centre of analysis and social functions are deduced from these structures(ibid).

Functionalist believe that one can compare society to a living organism, in that both society and a living organism are made up of interdependent working parts and systems that must function. Functionalists say that the different parts of society e. g family, education, religion, law and order, media etc. have to be seen in terms of contribution that they make to the functioning of the whole society. This organism analogy sees the different parts of society working together to form a social system in the same way that the different parts of an organism form a cohesive functioning entity.

In relation to the case of Zambia, structural functionalism is relevant in understanding social change. It is relevant in that it provides general guidelines for behavior in terms of norms. These institutions of society such as family, religion, the economy, law and order, the educational and political systems are major aspects of social structure. A practical example of an institution that is relevant in Zambia is a family. According to Glencoe (1995;114), the family is the first social world a child encounters, and members are the mirror in which children begin to see themselves.

It is the first group whose norms and values children adopt as their own and refer to in evaluating behavior. Historical analysis also demonstrates that across time, the family has provided many important functions for society. Functionalists believe that mass formal education is an essential part of an industrial society, and that expansion of industrial society, and that expansion of the industrial economies brings a corresponding expansion in the education system, they also see the introduction of mass education as a response to the increasing demand of the industry.

Educational institutions such as colleges, Universities and schools in Zambia help in the development process of Zambian society. Glencoe (1995:118) adds that in modern society, school is a primary agent for weaning children from home and introducing them to the larger society. He further adds that educational institutions have rules and regulations to control those in there hence not only educating them but giving and teaching them rules that will help them live better lives in society. The mass media is one institution that is also very vital.

The forms that reach large numbers of people in form of, Television, radio, and books are all important in that they contribute in being a watch dog, a channel of communication, an educative means and ways in which people express themselves (ibid). Another example of social change is technology influx in recent years such as email, cell phones and online social networks. Each part of the institutions mentioned and listed does something to serve a function or purpose in the Zambia social change.

People who employ functionalism view society as a set of interrelated parts that work together to produce a stable social system. The theory of belongs to a board theories that are referred to as radical theories of development. The theories are further explained in terms of materialism which are dialectical and historical. By materialism Karl Marx meant that the economic structure of society was the foundation or basis on which the whole society is built (Andropove, V: 1983). In Marxist theories, the division of society into classes is determined by the position within the process of production.

Economic development gives rise to these classes and assumes different relationships to the process of production. Marxism hence is the name given to the body of ideas, which in their totality provide a fully worked out theoretical basis for the struggle of the working class to attain a higher form of human society (ibid). Class consciousness consists of the appropriate and rational reactions imputed to a particular typical position in the process of production. This consciousness is therefore, neither the sum nor the average of what is thought or felt by the single individuals who make up the class.

The historical significant actions of the class as a whole are determined in the last resort by this consciousness and not by the thoughts of the individual. These actions can be understood only by reference to this consciousness (Klaus, W:1989). Karl Marx and Engels state 5 stages in which a human society has to pass through in order for it to develop. These include primitive, feudalism, capitalism, socialism and communism. Primitive society is the first stage of development of human society and arises from the differentiation of man from the animal kingdom (Popkin, H. R: 1986).

Feudalism is the second stage of social development according to Marxism. At this stage, the land lords and nobles comprised of dominant classes and the peasants or serfs that belonged to the exploited class. Capitalism is the third stage and it involves the private ownership of the means of production. In capitalism, there is an emergence of two classes, that is, the bourgeoisies as the owners of capital and the proletariat as the working class (Johari, J: 1989). Socialism is the fourth stage under Marxism. In socialism, the state has an important role to play on the part of resource allocation.

The state is responsible to ensure that all members of society have equal and equitable access to resources. The last stage is Communism according to Marxism. A communist society is one having neither class nor state and all resources in society are equally and equitably distributed. A Communist state can be referred to as a workers paradise. The neo-Marxists on the other hand, after seeing the failure of working-class revolutions in Western Europe after World War I, chose the parts of Marx’s thought that might clarify social conditions that were not present when Marx was alive.

They filled in what they perceived to be omissions in Marxism with ideas from other schools of thought. Neo-Marxists view class divisions under capitalism as more important than gender/sex divisions or issues of race and ethnicity. Neo-Marxism encompasses a group of beliefs that have in common rejection of economic or class determinism and a belief in at least the semiautonomy of the social sphere. From the above information provided, it can be deduced that despite Marxism, and Neo-Marxism and the Structural functionalism having different approaches to ocial change, they both place an emphasis on the importance of society in which all the members benefit and the how the society develops as it improves on the living conditions of its people. Both Marxism, and Neo-Marxist and Structural functionalism emphasize that inequality should exist in order for social change to take place. In Marxism bourgeoisie pay the proletariat low wages for their labour. Structural functionalists state that wages must be given to workers in order for them to carry out their work of which in most cases tend to be low. They also emphasize on the need of the use of force in the process of social change.

In the Marxist theory, serfs are treated like slaves in that they are forced to do hard work by the land lords despite low wages. Force is used to control the serfs. In structural functionalism, people who go against the norms, values and rules governing a society are to be punished by some administration of justice. In both Marxist, and Neo-Marxist and Structural functionalism, members of society have roles to play in order for society to develop and progress. This means that individuals are significant not only in themselves but also in terms of their position in patterns of social relations.

One of the differences between Marxist, Neo-Marxist and the Structural functionalism is that in Marxism, social change occurs revolutionary while as for structural functionalism, social change occurs evolutionary without conflicts. Marxism holds the belief that in order for social change to take place, conflicts should exist in order for society to progress. Unlike structural functionalism, Marxism emphasizes on formation of a society comprised of classes. The classes include the serfs and the land lords in feudalism, the proletariat and the bourgeoisies in capitalism.

Structural functionalism emphasizes on different parts of society such institutions and organizations working together in order for society to survive while Marxism and Neo-Marxism states that members of society function for their survival and not necessarily for society, for example; the bourgeoisie and the proletariat in capitalism. Unlike Marxism, structural functionalism does not contain a sense of agency that individuals are seen as puppets only acting as society requires and the most sophisticated forms of functionalism are based on highly developed concept of actions. In conclusion, structural functionalism better explains chievement of social change in less developed countries like Zambia as compared to the Marxist and Neo-Marxist theories to social change, the Marxist and Neo-Marxist do not offer a valid explanation in the case of Zambia because they advocated for socialism as the ultimate solution towards betterment of society. Structural functionalism may hence be feasible as in the case of the Zambian situation. However, it does not apply to the present day situation because it was used to explain economic situations in most developed countries which can not apply in the case of the Zambian situation.

I BIBLIOGRAPHY Andropove, V. (1983) Karl Marx and Our Time, Progress Publishers, Moscow. Davies, K. (1959) The Myth of Functional Analysis as a Special Method in Sociology and Anthropology. American Social Review. Herman, Nancy J. and Reynolds, Larry T. 1994. Symbolic Interaction: An Introduction to Social Psychology. Altamira Press Johari, J. (1989) Principles of Modern Political Science. New York Publishers, New York. Klaus, W. (1989) Beyond Political Independence. New York Publishers, New York. Popkin, H. R (1986) Philosophy Made Simple, Oxford Press, Oxford.

Development Studies Essay

My Sociological Imagination Essay

My Sociological Imagination Essay.

“The sociological Imagination is defined as the ability to understand the one’s own issues are not caused simply by one’s own beliefs or thoughts but by society and how it is structured.” (Mills, The Sociological Imagination, 1959). Therefore, one can never solve their problems until they understand that they cannot be solved simply on an individual level but must be addressed on the social level. It is the ability to see how society is structured and how things such as societal norms influence people into performing certain actions.

It involves observing outcomes from a different perspective in order to understand what influenced those outcomes.

Examples of How Social Imagiantion Can Help Individuals

Growing up in one’s environment is likely to play as a factor in the way they go about things in the life. People cannot change their environment so they sometimes have to change themselves in order to become to fit in with their societies or to become successful person.

The sociological perspective better known as the sociological imagination helps individuals see through a broader scope of the society. Being a part of a general category like a working class youth or a student, you must learn how to view the world through by society. My agent of socialization belongs to my university and friends or peer who surrounded me recently because I believe the service-learning that we will be taking part in will help to expand our sociological imaginations.

For myself, my parents are born into a certain environment and depending on how the utilized their sociological imagination, play a part in the environment we become a part of. As I’m coming from the working class family, there is an assumption that you have to go to the school or university for your social status or prestige of your life in my society. My parents always wanted more for me so they enlisted me in a catholic elementary and private high school in my county. So I saw how different I was compared to my other friend’s not in intelligence but in wisdoms. I knew that I was capable of doing more and becoming more because not only I did I believe in myself, my parents did too. It’s correct because when you are in private high school or catholic school, you have to pay tuition fees and a lot of people do not have money to spare with it. Instead of having the latest pairs of sneakers or shoes and throwing big parties for every holiday and your birthday, we can save some money for the future and my education.

From being in my current university student’s life, my entire life that I learn so much not only academically, but that I do not have to settle for what our social class or social location places us. After my private high school in my country, I went to my fist college in the United States. I encountered the language barriers and a lot of cultural differences in my first six months of college life here. I also learned that no matter how good you do academically, you will always be stereotyped and looks at differently because you’re a minority who comes from different cultures in the society.

The sociological imagination is a capacity, ability, and a quality of mind that allows an individual to understand and connect her or his life with the forces and dynamics that impact it. It is about not blaming others for what they do, it is about judging ourselves before we judge others and understand people as if we understand ourselves for example if a student comes late to class there could be many reasons behind this student being late; there could have been traffic or an accident on the way that made him or her come late to class, so we should not judge but understand.

Although we should separate between personal trouble and public issue, for example a student could be coming to class late all the time because of his or her laziness this would be called a personal trouble but if all students are coming late to class than this is called a public issue, meaning there is something wrong with the class. Sociological imagination engages in, the minority status, gender, socioeconomic status and the family structure.

Sociological imagination is a social fact and empathy; social fact is the idea, feeling, behavior of individuals. An example of social fact is when the sun is rising, this is a social fact that we cannot change whether we like it or not it will still rise. There are many sociological issues in society; one of the issues learned in this course is the race and racism issue.

Race and Racism as a Social Construct

Race and racism are two different issues race is a social constructed aspect of identity in all cultures, race is not biological it is powerful; it is what makes us who we are for example what we are born with like hair texture and skin color. Racism is an interlocking system of advantage based on race existing at individual and cultural symbolic. Racism comes from power, and culture. Racism happens when some social groups have more power over another social groups, but racism have changed even if it still exist it is not visible in which it is been described as dangerous or a hidden fact. Racism is racism that it can’t be better or worse in any country. Even though being born with a specific skin color is a cause of geographic conditions, in which where the person is born for example being born in a sunny place is different than being born in a place in which doesn’t have sun, so all humans are the same if we put skin color a side, also black people are born with more melanin in their skin and that protects them from getting cancer that’s why white skin colored people are more likely to get cancer than people with dark skin. So there are always advantages and disadvantages about what we have and what we don’t have.

Society will always look at you twice before becoming a consideration for different things in an adult life. It takes a great deal of my social imagination to attend college. Not many people in my country feel like they are capable of going to college because of their general categories or social locations. College has always been a big thing in my family. My parents did not want me to settle for just any job that they wanted me to have a career and one that I enjoy. They want me to do well in the life so no only I can get out of the middle social class but I can also take them with me in my success. There is a limited amount of people in my immediate family who actually went to the college in here so going for me is a really big deal. I did not do really well in my past high school so that lead me to a selected few number of colleges to attend when I applied to school in here. I ended up choosing some universities close to my home town for my first student’s life. I decided to go to Webster Thailand campus because I did not want to branch to far away from my family. I know that if I continue to do good academically I can transfer to a college in the big city like Singapore and still be close to my family.

Ptrivate Troubles vs Public Issues

The sociological imagination distinguishes between two very distinct ends of reality, the “private troubles” and the “public issues”. To understand social reality, private troubles must be examined in the context of the larger issue. For example, a child who doing poor school work may be suffering from a private trouble but that issue is part of a larger picture. Is his trouble coming from a larger social problem that is also affecting his community? Is his trouble something which is common among his peer group? All feelings and emotions are inter-related in order to understand one end of society you must understand the others.

The sociological imagination, written by C. Wright Mills, is an insightful critique of the research taking place in sociology. Mills states that the sociological imagination is the quality of mind that allows one to understand “history and biography and the relations between the two within society” (p.6). It allows one to switch from one perspective to another allowing for a comprehensive view of the “socio-cultural system”. Mills stated some very valid points in this analysis. By defining troubles and issues, he points to each of the connections they have to each other. A good example is on Page 9, when Mills mentions marriage. He states that “inside a marriage a man and a woman may experience personal troubles, but when the divorce rate during the first four years of marriage is 250 out of 1000 attempt, this is an indication of a structural issue”.

Education is a key into overcoming one social location or the class. Doing good academically we can branch into different fields in which we can utilize and expand our experiences. Our social class will no longer be a fallback because we can get different types of scholarships. Social perspective plays a major part in one’s decision to go to the college because people want more in life not just what they were given. They want to learn more and they want to be more so getting a college education will get them there. People’s lives are shaped by society. They become accustomed to different things and try to stay in the trends in the society. One’s society plays a huge role in one’s personality and the way that they might live their lives.

Social Stratification is regarded quite differently by the principle perspectives of sociology. Proponents of structural-functional analysis suggest that since social stratification exists in most state of the societies, a hierarchy must therefore be beneficial in helping to stabilize their existence. Talcott Parsons, an American sociologist, asserted that stability and social order are achieved by means of a universal value consensus. Functionalists assert that stratification exists solely to satisfy the functional per requisites necessary for a functional proficiency in any society.

Conflict theorists consider the inaccessibility of resources and lack of social mobility n many stratified societies. They conclude, often working from the theories of Karl Marx, that stratification means that working class people are not likely to advance socioeconomically, while the wealthy may continue to exploit the proletariat generation after generation. Marx distinguished social classes by their connection to the means of production. Therefore the ruling class (the bourgeoisie) and the working class (the proletariat), identify their social positions by their relationship to the means of production. The maintenance of status quo is achieved by various methods of social control employed by the bourgeoisie in the course of many aspects of social life, such as through ideologies of submission promoted through the institution of religion.

Conclusion

In the conclusion, my sociological imagination leads me to where I am today. I did not let other stereotypes about my social location and my social class play a part in my decision making process. I took a stand and decided to go to college to better not only for myself but for my family. The sociological imagination is an awareness of the relationship between an individual and wider society; a key element in this is the ability to view one’s society as an outsider’s would. As being humans, we can’t let our social location determine our abilities. We must explore beyond what we are given and what we are told is right. Humans must defeat their ordinary life by not setting themselves up for limited expectations in the society and we should also try to exceed our or everyone else’s expectations in our life.

REFERENCES

  • Mills, C. Wright. 1959. The Sociological Imagination. New York; Oxford University Press.
  • Web. Engels, Friedrich and Marx, Karl. 1998. Manifesto of the Communist Party. New York.
  • Web 10 Sep, 2013.
  • Web 10 Sep, 2013.
  • C Wright Mills, (1959), The Sociological Imagination, reprinted (2000), Oxford University, chapters 1-3 and 7, pages 3–75 and 132-143.
  • Schwalbe, Michael. 1956. The Sociologically examined life: pieces of the conversation.
  • Collins, Patricia Hill. December 1986. Social Problems 33. Web.

My Sociological Imagination Essay