Intro and Marx
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This 6 page Study Guide was uploaded by Luo Qi Kong on Friday September 9, 2016. The Study Guide belongs to SOCI 3220 at Tulane University taught by Kevin Gotham in Fall 2015. Since its upload, it has received 63 views. For similar materials see Social Theory in Sociology at Tulane University.
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Date Created: 09/09/16
Luo Qi Kong I. Basics of Theory A. theory: a set of interrelated propositions that allow for the systematization of knowledge, explanation, and prediction about the social world 1. theories can be descriptive, explanatory, and/or prescriptive 2. theories address what, why, and how questions B. metatheorizing: the analysis of the underlying structure of theory 1. identify the theory’s purpose, intent, and goal(s) a) interpretive/descriptive focus (1) enhance our understanding of social life (2) offer interpretation of certain slice of reality (3) broad notion of theory (4) ex. symbolic interactionism, humanitiesoriented theories, architecture and planning theories b) causal/explanatory/analytic focus (1) identify and explain the causes of social change (2) emphasis on prediction and predictive power as main criteria for evaluating a theory’s validity (3) causeandeffect variable analyses with clear measures and operationalization strategies (4) specify causal variables/mechanisms (5) ex. rational choice theories, socialecological theories, analytical Marxism, econometric theories/analyses c) transformative/critical/normative/prescriptiv e focus (1) facilitate a critical understanding of society (2) problemidentifying and problemsolving orientation (3) transform the status quo and promote ameliorative social change (praxis); issues of social justice, democracy, equity (4) strong political and normative focus (5) ex. variants of Marxian theories, feminist theories, critical race theories 2. describe the theory’s ontological assumptions a) an inventory or set of assumptions about what can and does exist in the social world b) provides criteria for: (1) identifying important components of social reality (2) understanding linkages between objects of analysis (a) relations , interdependencies, reciprocal feedback effects, couplings, etc. c) major ontological categories in sociology: society, individual, groups, institutions, relationships, norms, roles, rules, laws, social structures, race, class, gender 3. describe the theory’s epistemological assumptions a) conceptions of knowledge; nature, origin, and scope of knowledge b) set of beliefs about: (1) what can be known (2) who can be a knower (3) what are legitimate ways of knowing 4. identify the theory’s core concepts a) terms to organize, categorize, and classify knowledge about the social world, which can be descriptive and evaluative b) examples: (1) race, class, gender (a) social structures, hierarchies, inequalities of resources, identities, exploitation, alienation, discrimination, etc. 5. classify the theory’s levels of analysis and logics of generalization and/or particularization (induction and/or deduction) a) macro/global (highest and most abstract) b) national/regional c) state/metropolitan d) urban/city e) neighborhood/street f) family/household/small group g) micro/individual (lowest and most specific) 6. specify the theory’s agency/structure relationships a) human agency and social structure presuppose one another b) define the relationship between agency and structure c) analytical distinctions and empirical indicators d) how social structures enable and constrain action e) how human actions reinforce, resist, and change social structures II. Marx and Marxian Theory A. Marx’s Theory of Society 1. three key concepts: a) means of production: tools, raw materials, machines, etc. (produce goods and services for our survival) b) relations of production: class relations based on ownership and control of the means of production (Bourgeoisie’s power or ownership) c) mode of production: ancient society (peasantbased), feudalism (serf labor), capitalism (wage labor) 2. capital: a) an object (wealth or assets) b) a process (money used to generate more money) c) a social relationship (between buyers and sellers of labor power) (1) Bourgeoisie are the buyers; wage laborers are the sellers 3. capitalism: a) a politicaleconomic system based on the following: (1) private ownership of the means of production (a) owners can restrict use of these means of production (2) wage labor (a) transitio n from serfs/slaves to wage laborers marked beginning of capitalism; forced exchange (3) production for profit (a) wealth, surplus, abundance (b) money spent is less than money earned (4) competition (a) among businesses or capitalists (b) among workers or proletariat (c) between capitalists and workers (5) moneybased economy (a) capitalis m destroys barter system (b) universa l unit of exchange necessary due to wealth and surplus 4. commodities and commodification: a) commodities have usevalue (purpose) and exchangevalue (price) b) importance of exchangevalue to Marx: (1) no purchase, then no use (2) usevalue becomes secondary to exchangevalue (no profit until exchangevalue) c) valorization process — what is the value of a commodity and how is it determined? (1) market theory of value: value determined by supply and demand; supply/demand explain fluctuations only (2) labor theory of value: value determined by average socially necessary labor time (average time taken by all laborers, not one laborer) that it takes to create commodity d) general formula for capital (circuits of commodities) (1) C M C (2) M C M (a) characte ristic of capitalism (b) cyclical and produces more money (c) rise of world trade (d) presupp oses wage labor e) fetishism of commodities: process by which people assign extraordinary power to commodities (1) money becomes dominant standard of social value (2) social reality dominated by circulation and accumulation of commodities (3) fetishism of commodities occurs when social relations take the form of exchange relations (4) individuals confront each other as: (a) buyers and sellers (b) producer s, consumers, and possessors of commodities f) commodification: process whereby goods and services which were formerly used for subsistence purposes are bought and sold on a market for profit; a process of reducing social relations to exchange relations (1) subordination of usevalue to exchangevalue, restricting access to commodity based on ability to pay 5. working day: a) spatial and social separation of labor and other aspects of society b) capitalists consider a working day all 24 hours minus necessary hours of rest (1) structurally made to keep wages low (2) conflicts with laborer’s happiness c) inverse relationship between wages and profits d) capitalism has power 6. alienated labor: a) alienation: process by which humans become dominated by their own creations (1) our creations confront us as alien/foreign objects (2) Marx’s theory of alienation is tied to his conception of human nature b) humans gain meaning from labor, work, social activity (1) when alienated, humans do not gain meaning (2) alienation is dehumanization c) social conditions and manifestations of alienation (1) structurally generated, objective (not subjective feeling) (a) alienatio n is present in the relationship of the worker to the product of the labor (i) t he commodity confronts the worker as an alien object (b) alienatio n is present in the process of production (i) t he process is not creative — it is an alienating, dehumanizing system (c) alienatio n is present in the separation of workers (i) p roletarianization leads to creation of an industrial reserve army (ii) w orkers rebel and create new organizations to combat exploitation (unionization) (d) alienatio n is present in the separation of people’s existence from their speciesbeing/human potential 7. capitalism is growthoriented a) economic growth: (1) Bourgeoisie have played a revolutionary role in history (2) Bourgeoisie have helped create the most productive economic system in history b) social growth (division of labor): (1) increasing complexity; differentiation of occupations; specialization of tasks (2) Marx emphasizes division of labor as source of exploitation of wage labor and environment (3) capitalist division of labor is process of primitive accumulation (divorcing producer from means of production) c) geographical: (1) spatial expansion 8. capitalism is technologically dynamic a) technological innovation is a feature of capitalism (1) Bourgeoisie forced to innovate to stay in business (2) source is competition (a) non competition leads to lack of change and innovation or motivation to innovate (b) rest and passivity are sources of business ruin b) societal effects of technologically dynamic aspect of capitalism (1) constant, incessant social change (2) permanent, everlasting change (3) perpetual upheaval (4) disintegration 9. capitalism is crisisprone a) capitalism generates crisis (depressions, recessions, inflation, overproduction, underconsumption) (1) generates surplus and waste (industrial pollution, immense waste, destruction of environment) b) what explains tenacity of capitalism? (1) strength of capitalism lies in its ability to conquer new markets and more thoroughly exploit old markets (growth/technological change) (2) new forms of adaptation/growth pave way for more extensive/destructive crises 10. cycles of innovation and destruction a)
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