SOC 316 Week 7 Notes
SOC 316 Week 7 Notes SOC 316 - Pfaff
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SOC 316 - Pfaff
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This 9 page Class Notes was uploaded by Lucas Reller on Thursday March 5, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to SOC 316 - Pfaff at University of Washington taught by Pfaff in Winter2015. Since its upload, it has received 97 views. For similar materials see Introduction to Sociological Theory in Sociology at University of Washington.
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Date Created: 03/05/15
Why Does Capitalism Instigate Conflict Historical Materialism Class Conflict and Labor Radicalism 0 Creative destruction Marx Engels and The Manifesto of the Communist Party 1848 0 There are three principal themes to The Communist Manifest equal parts theory and polemic History Marx and Engels sketch a historical outline of the development of capitalism to show why it must be overturned but they do even more than this they claim that the Communists have history on their side They offer a theory of history driven by a single great mechanism class conflict The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles Capitalism represents a break with the past because of its dynamism and enormous productivity In the face of the wonders of production Everything solid melts into air old ways of life belief and subsistence dissolve under the pressure of capitalism Capitalism thrives by constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production Driven by competition and technological advances capitalism is always adapting The capitalist bourgeoisie is a revolutionary class it radically transforms the material foundation of society and with it the super structure of society including law government ideology etc As Schumpeter later observed capitalism is a system of creative destruction it establishes the new by destroying the older less efficient institutions and modes of production Capitalists in the restless search for new raw materials and markets for industrial goods bring the world together into a single global economy The lessdeveloped parts of the world must either emulate and adopt the capitalist system or else perish in competition with it European mercantilists early lead in exploration and navigation made possible the creation of an overseas maritime empire that made capitalist breakthrough possible in the West At home the bourgeoisie broke the back of the old agrarian economy based on lord and peasant and attacked the institution of the craft guilds By plundering the New World of gold and silver and eliminating Asian competition through commercial monopolies and warfare European capitalists put themselves at the center of a worldwide system of production and distribution Politics Marx and Engels regard the state as no more than committee for managing the affairs of the bourgeoisie and protecting private property Liberal reform will fail to achieve emancipation or equality because the state is the guardian of capitalist interests Communists call for the abolition of religion the traditional family law and the state but they claim that is not the Communists who have defiled these holy objects but rather the bourgeoisie itself through objectification and exploitation Capitalism has torn down the old world its sentiments and beliefs It has left between people no consequential relationship except simple cash payment It has dehumanized humanity Whereas the old world was divided among various classes estates and castes capitalism is simplifying the political world Class polarization is transforming society into two classes the proletariat workers and the bourgeoisie owners of capital Gradually crowded together in the cities and factories the workers will begin to form unions to pursue their own interests and engage in collective action It is into this new world that the Communists intervene They warn workers that law morality philosophy religion are all ideological instruments masking material interests What is the role of the Communist Party To form the proletariat into a politically aware social class and then help that class to seize power in its own name Once this is achieved the primary political aim is economic Abolition ofprivate property The revolution will socialize private property and put it under the administration of the socialist state At this moment the forced exploitative division of labor in industrial capitalism will be abolished Marx and Engels concede that nationalism is an obstacle But for them the workers have no nation they only have their common class Their task is therefore to unite When this is achieved then the division of labor between exploiting and exploited nations will also cease to exist Revolution Marx and Engels paint a picture of the bourgeoisie as being like a sorcerer s apprentice it has unleashed upon the world a destructive and powerful force it cannot control Eventually these forces will destroy capitalism Why Because capitalism creates its own gravediggers the class of proletarians that achieves self awareness and demands rights and the full product of its labors The claim is that capitalism is so dehumanizing that is bound to create vast class of people interested in overturning its irrational reign The growing misery poverty and insecurity of the workers is part of this The more productive is the labor the lower the pay Capitalism does not liberate humankind as it promises but enslaves it The only answer then is revolution This revolution does not come about solely as a reaction to the immorality of capitalism but because of its structural contradictions It cannot but be unstable it cannot be but exploitative In this sense it cannot be reformed It must be abolished Once the coerced division of labor is abolished society will return to its basic natural condition that is pro social cooperation Without exploitation there is no need for domination so the state withers away and stratification is replaced by communalism Marx and Engel s descriptive model of historical development Historical stage Propertied class Dominated class Primitive society None None Despotism Patricians Slaves Feudalism Nobility Serfs Capitalism Bourgeoisie Labor Socialism State managers Proletariat Communism None None Why Group solidarity in class conflict Why do social classes act or fail to act in their collective interest Marx developed a theory of modern social classes that makes new forms of collective action possible Marx has argued that capitalism has created a new social class the industrial workers Marx predicts that this class will be the foundation of a new kind of communal solidarity a new class consciousness capable of revolutionary transformation of society But what proof is there of this Observing the social conflicts of England the first lndustrialized country Marx points to the fact of strikes combinations trade unions marchesthe political struggles of workers Why Capitalism concentrates workers into factories and industrial cities where they compete against each other Yet they share a common interest in maintaining their wages the basis of their subsistence Only by combining into unions can they prevent being set against each other to depress wages by capitalists They form unions to bargain collectively and fight for their common interest However in so doing they bring costs upon themselves Forming unions and political parties to change their situation lnvites repression by the capitalist elite They pay union dues forgo wages while they strike and contribute to strike funds and They risk dismissal from their jobs But why would the poor and oppressed risk danger and take up costs of collective action Marx argues that it is the fact of conflict itself that persuades them The capitalist system has created an USTHEM struggle between capitalists and workers Solidarity is possible because the workers recognize their own self interest lies in acting together Indeed at first they are acting defensively not because they are trying to make a revolution Radical class consciousness is facilitated as the objective circumstances of people become more alike Installing mass production capitalism creates for this mass of people a common situation with common interests On Strikes from Poverty of Philosophy O As capitalism floods the cities with people seeking work and exploited by the capitalists a new interest and a new identity is born that of the modern worker But is the nature of modern social stratification really a simple US THEM division Marx argues that class conflict is driven by competition over the price of labor Where workers are scattered in small towns and villages their ability to work together to oppose the bosses is limited eg peasants are like potatoes in a sack not unified Marx predicts that as a country industrializes workers will get concentrated in industry As the size of industrial firms grows workers are thrown together in large numbers They now have the opportunity to act together to fight for better wages instead of competing against each other Thus unions are formed Once unions are formed workers have one great instrument against the bosses collectively deny the bosses their labor That is they strike Once workers act together capitalists try to suppress labor activism through repression banning unions using violence against strikers and so on Workers come to despise the state as the instrument of their oppression The result the radicalization of workers as they come to see the need for revolution Thus through conflict itself a potential class the industrial workers becomes a class with a political purpose and a common project that is a modern industrial proletariat class conflict produces solidarity 0 Evaluating Marx s Model Historically The Critical Case of Germany 0 Germany was one of the most rapid and successfully industrialized countries in the decades between 1870 1930 As Marx would have predicted capitalism brought massive class based organizing and collective ac on German workers became the best organized and most politically advanced working class in the world But revolution didn t happen Indeed class based collective action was on decline before WWI Despite high levels of union organization strikes decreased in frequency The German Socialists despite the influence of Marxist theory did not manage to avert German entry into WWI or prevent the rise of a fascist dictatorship in the 19305 the Nazis that destroyed the labor movement 0 Why Didn t Revolutions Occur in Advanced Industrial Societies O Reform liberal states did compromise with unions and socialist parties by improving wages regulating working conditions and introducing social welfare and insurance schemes Nationalism displacing class consciousness as workers felt included in democratizing states Conservatism union leaders became selfinterested as the size and power of the labor movement grew leaders avoided radicalism Michels iron law of oligarchy Enhanced productivity Modern capitalist economies relied on a skilled labor force Employers raised wages and improved benefits to retain skilled workers Many categories of workers esp white collar and technical workers saw improvement average real income several times greater today than in 1800 Why Don t We Rebel Against Class Domination Ideology Power and Compliance 0 Karl Marx and the sociology of knowledge 0 Why do people fail to act on the basis of their objective material interests Why do exploitative social orders persist What obstructs class conflict Marx wanted to understand the connection between the concrete economic relationships among people and the broad patterns of social order and social conflict that emerge from them in specific eras An argument now known as historical materialism One of Marx s influential contributions was to the sociology of knowledge the analysis of ideas and how they are produced through specific social relations and why they contain the claims to truth that they do Hegel had remarked Periods of bliss are history s blank pages Marx also understood processes of social change in terms of the clash of opposing interests and forces that determine them But the same applied to the study of ideas Instead of viewing ideas simply as the product of reason philosophical speculation or intellectual debate Marx saw ideas as key weapons in the struggle for class domination Thus in his critique of Hegel s Philosophy of Flight Marx tries to reveal how religion law and philosophy each with a claim to a universal truth is really an instrument for the exercise of power by rulers eager to convince the dominated of the rightness and necessity of ruling class 0 The critique of traditional ideology Religion Marx makes a famous reference to religion as the opium of the people What does he mean Principally that religion is the expression of oppressed peoples need for relief from suffering a kind of ongoing but blunt protest against the realities of a heartless world In order to do more than endure suffering ie to transcend it religion but more importantly the need for it have to be abolished Marx predicted that the more insecure and deprived that people are the more religious they would be There is some contemporary research that supports this The critique of liberalism Law and civil society 0 O Reform gradual political emancipation offered by the liberal state is rejected by Marx Freedom is dependent on the possession of rights that adhere to property it is liberation without the substance of freedom Marx does not accept the principle that universal emancipation can ever be realized through the granting of formal political equality Legal recognition does not insure against discrimination or dispossession What does liberal citizenship mean in practice if class domination reigns Some cross national research shows that higher inequality associated with lower quality of democratic governance True liberation arrives when the distinction between society and state public and private rights dissolve Ideology and Materialism O 0 Contra Hegel ideas had to be evaluated by reference to the structure of social relations ie their external validity The ideal world does not reveal the necessity of liberalism or the bureaucratic state Ruling classes only justify their rule by reference to such ideas Marx joked that he was turning Hegel over on his head In the German Ideology 1845 46 Marx notes The production of ideas of conceptions of consciousness is directly interwoven with material activity and material intercourse of men and appear at this stage as the direct efflux of their material behavior The most influential philosophy of a given era is the theory which grants power to the dominant classes of the day The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas that is the class which is the ruling material force of society is at the same time its ruling intellectual force The class which has the means of material production at its disposal has control at the same time over the means of mental production The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships Legitimating ideas are ideologies that obscure and mystify the actual material world Marx calls such ideas the camera obscura a lens that provides a distorted appreciation of reality Historical materialism is not ideology it is science that is knowledge which produces Truth What is the purpose of the sociology of knowledge 0 O In 1843 Marx declared lam speaking of a ruthless criticism of everything existing ruthless in two senses The criticism must not be afraid of its own conclusions nor of conflict with the powers that be Theory must enable recognition O The reform of consciousness consists only in enabling the world to clarify its consciousness in waking it from its dream about itself in explaining to it he meaning of its own actions To have its sins forgiven mankind has only to declare them to be really what they are Thus the task of Marxian sociology of knowledge is Hegelian recognition as the first stage of liberation understanding of the concrete realities of social life Once the veil of mystification has been removed the barriers to selftransformation and to social revolution are removed Horkheimer amp Adorno The Culture Industry 1944 O 0 Max Horkheimer 1895 1973 and Theodor Adorno 1903 1969 were leading social philosophers in the Frankfurt School of Western Marxism Which developed a Critical Theory on the basis of Marxism while also drawing on Weber and Sigmund Freud Critical theorists were interested in explaining class domination in advanced capitalist societies How did the ruling class maintained power in the face of democratization rationalization and social differentiation Contra Marx capitalism had not collapsed under the weight of its own contradictions nor had it given birth to revolution Indeed communist revolutions tended to occur in what were relatively backward economies Russia China Cuba North Korea etc Not only had the proletariat failed to make a successful socialist revolution in the West but also did not prevent fascist totalitarian regimes had prevailed in Germany Italy Japan etc after WWI 1914 1918 and totalitarian Communism in the Soviet Union The essay was written in the USA during their exile from Nazi Germany 1938 1949 Advanced capitalism and the eclipse of ideology Marx argued that domination in every era was cemented by ideological domination Marx argued that scientific socialism would negate ideology such that the fall of free market ideology economic liberalism would not lead the end of ideology as mystification of reality was replaced by a new science of society upon which social order is rebuilt A century later Horkheimer and Adorno no longer share this optimism The working class failed to organize a great socialist revolution and ruling classes no longer rely on philosophical arguments such as liberalism to maintain their domination Ideas are irrelevant to most people displaced by consumerism and entertainment Horkheimer amp Adorno begin with a brusque dismissal of Durkheim s theory of organic solidarity The DOL decline of traditional religion and differentiation have not led to an era of individualism but rather a new collective consciousness that cements domination This new collective consciousness is the result of an apparatus of mass conformity the culture industry the complex of entertainment advertising and leisure industries that dominate everyday life capture the collective imagination and distractsmystifies the working classes This is made possible by the new technology of mass media including radio television cinema and mass circulation newspapers and periodicals As fewer and fewer giant firms dominate these media a uniform commercialized popular culture that trumpets conformity and pleasure The culture industry represents the triumph of the entertainment business over art Authentic art can subvert ideology and domination by revealing discrepancies between ideals and reality Art can negate ideological justification by destabilizing prevailing traditions identities and values But the culture industry is based on imitation thereby reinforcing the prevailing reality By blurring the distinction between representation and reality through increasingly sophisticated simulation of reality the mass media destroy the imagination of its consumers and subtly promotes obedience to the social hierarchy that stands behind its affirmation of consumer desne In effect culture becomes an object of elite led rationalization with the introduction of new technologies that enhance control standardize products and concentrate the means of cultural production in the hands of the few As the culture industry advances the realm of private life of imagination and leisure become as thoroughly commoditized as the world of work Thus the private sphere the zone which is ostensibly free of elite domination becomes the new arena for capitalist colonization Worst of all H amp A argue that the process is to a novel extent largely transparent to those it dominates People realize that they are being manipulated and come to expect and even crave it They yearn to escape to the vicarious worlds of TV and movie stars and the lifestyles of the rich and famous The technology of mass domination O In advanced capitalist societies there is no rebellion against the capitalist ruling class and the entertainment elite but craven envy and the unattainable emulation of ruling class style How is this possible The culture industry advances by offering the most technically efficient way to distribute information and entertainment products to widely dispersed mass publics Radio movies and TV are one way forms of communication easily subordinated to rationalization and elite manipulation unlike the telephone Increasingly sophisticated techniques create a convincing simulation of social reality affirming its taken for granted quality while special effects fantasy and science fiction create prepackaged escapism that blunts rebellion The creation of wants and the disappointment of desire O In market ideology capitalism defines itself as a system for the satisfaction of wants that is it efficiently supplies the demands of consumers through production and distribution But H amp A argue that in the era of mass market consumer capitalism true purpose is the creation of wants and dissatisfaction of desires By creating mass consumer markets capitalism now produces controls and disciplines desires It offers the illusion of autonomy through an enormous menu of choices it has already defined in advance The culture industry perpetually cheats its consumers of what it perpetualy promises the diners must be satisfied with the menu Hence public culture is at once pornographic and prudish By these means the culture industry ensures flight from the last remaining thought of resistance among the mass of workerconsumers 0 Even popular rebelliousness is packaged by the culture industry itself as commercial lifestyles hence the non conformist energies of jazz the beats rock nroll the counter culture and hiphop are in time commoditized and offered as products for youth consumption So called non conformity becomes organized as a standard niche in the placement of consumers into rationalized distribution of preferences The pleasure principle trumps politics But what are the limits of this theory ls purposive action still possible Can technological change that restores capacity for dialogue shake the culture industry Foucault Truth and Power 0 Writing in the 1970s Foucault maintains that the theory of ideology assumes a Truth which genuine science can reveal Marx implies a unified agent or subject whose interest ideology serves dominant class and that ideas superstructure are reduced to their based structural foundations economic relations Foucault thought that a regime of truth is implicated in the structural foundation of any society Ideology does not explain those sites in which the web of power operates such as penal institutions hospitals insane asylums etc At its most concrete and visible because these are sites in which the economic interest in domination is scant and the people subject to power cannot be used to extract surplus value So how does power operate through scientific and intellectual discourses the claims statements propositions axia etc regarding claims to truth and how do these fashion social order No social order can claim perfect knowledge Power operates through practices that announce the truth of that system and enforce domination The regime of truth in modern societies 0 O Modernity had created a new regime of truth that abandoned the faith awe and mystery of the aristocratic and religious societies Reformers revolutionists and scientists generate power by rationalizing behavior and scientifically treating deviance and irrationality For Foucault the regime of truth in modern industrial societies is comprised of Scientific discourse and research institutions Political and economic contest between interested actors claiming expertise Widely diffused and widely consumed truth statements communicated through educational and corrective institutions Practices defined and enforced by a few powerful agencies within the economy and the state The limited set of terms around which debates confrontations and ideological struggles among intellectuals and politicians take place Foucault leaves us with the following lessons Truth is a system of ordered procedures for the production of statements knowledge Truth is linked in a circular relationship with systems of power The politics of truth is what sustains or can destabilize political regimes Radical intellectuals can undermine domination by challenging the prevailing regime of truth But their own efforts to substitute a new regime will be no less implicated by the knowledgepower matrix In short there is no endpoint to struggles over knowledge and no final Claim to truth possible on the basis of any class
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