Bro. Roger D’souzaS.Y. PhilosophyIntroduction to SociologyFr. Joseph GonsalvesSt Pius X CollegeJanuary2018SOCIOLOGICAL CONTRIBUTIONS OF KARL MARX1. INTRODUCTION KarlMarx (1818 – 1883) was a great philosopher and sociological thinker of his time.His thoughts and ideas were influenced by the sociological context of that era.
His philosophical and sociological theories were mostly evolved againstcapitalism which was dominant during that period. Marxism was a revolt againstthat existing social discrimination. Karl Marx tried to resolve that situationwith the best possible way and by considering broader picture of the structureof the society. His vision was to transform the society into Utopian (Ideal) societywhere there will be no struggle or conflicts between the members of the societyi.
e. class struggle. He mainly focused on the economy (Capital) as a basestructure of the society.
He believed that other superstructures such aseducation, religion, politics etc. are fundamentally associated to the basestructure i.e. economy.1 Heobserved and derived those class struggles and conflicts are based oneconomical structure. Due to more inclination towards economical mode ofproduction or material possession leads to alienation among the members of thesociety. These viewpoints were raised because of the capitalistic approach ofthe society in his time.
There were two groups in the society. Bourgeoisie(Capitalist) were dominating and had material possessions and Proletariat(Workers) were working under them for their living.2The lower class were the real producers but had no possession on their produce.
However, the upper class had total control over the produce and enjoying allthe benefits of it. In addition to that they were exploiting the lower classand keeping them away from all the rights they deserved in order to controlthem. Therefore to confront the capitalism and social inequality, Karl Marxproduced negative dialectical method which eventually reviewed as conflicttheory and became as his sociological contribution to the society. 2. KARL MARXDIALECTICS KarlMarx was one of the followers of the German philosopher Hegel. According toHegel, man is in continuous struggle to know himself. He means thatself-understanding is the main purpose of human mind. This process involvesthesis, antithesis and synthesis which collectively known as Hegel’s dialecticmethod.
In this dialectic method, mind and ideas are the base structures whichaffects other structures. In this process, man identifies himself as a subjectby treating others as an object. It gives rise to Master-Slave relationshipwhere man suppresses others and treats them as slaves.3However,Karl Marx shapes his idea based on the same dialectic method by consideringmaterial as the base structure. He brings forth the materialistic view insteadof Hegel’s idealistic view.
Material wealth such as land, money and otherassets become the cause of social class struggle. Also, according to Hegel, toensure the interests which are universal is the purpose of the state orpolitical society or civil society. Perhaps, Karl Marx refuted this by sayingthat state or political society defends their self interest rather than workingtowards universal interests.4Here,Marx’s intention is to support the fact that individual or particular interestsof small groups prevail over the interest of the larger group of the societydue to unequal power and material distribution. In reality, the state misleadsthe community by being manipulative and deceptive.
The state produces its owninterests as universal interests and misleads people for their own cause. If wecompare this to the present political situation of India then it is clearlyseen that democracy in India is at stake due to few corrupt politicians andtheir business alliances. If any common man even tries to revolt against them thenhe or she will be suppressed by unusual means.
It clearly supports thateconomical power plays an important role in domination and which finallybecomes the dominant cause of human alienation i.e. Master-Slave relationship.Marx stresses that social revolution is the answer to this alienation. Theproletariats, working classes, should engage themselves in striving foruniversal interests and to achieve it in order to have equal distribution ofthe economy and power. Marx was trying to bring out changes in socio-economicalsystem and to make it utopian society which was his ultimate goal.
Heintroduced his ideas and later those were considered as conflict theory whichprovided different perspective in sociological studies. 3. CONFLICT THEORY Conflictis one of the important processes in social interaction. It arises due tosocial, cultural and religious differentiation existing in the society. It isuniversal and conscious process. It is not continuous and can be resolved byaccommodation. It is an output of social classes, racial discrimination, genderidentity, age differentiation and cultural gaps present in the society. It isan attempt to preserve the identity, position, power, wealth, status etc.
It isstruggle between the groups or in the groups in order to maintain one’s owncultural, social and religious values. It always creates tension and fear ofinsecurity in the society. It is a threat to the peace and harmony in thesociety.5Conflicttheory is an end result of the dialectics of Karl Marx.
It derives its strengthfrom the historical facts that there were always struggles and conflicts in thesociety due to existing social classes. This conflict theory emphasizes oncontinual struggle and conflicts. According to this perspective, there is alwayschange in the society.
However, it refutes the possibility of social stabilityand social agreements. It highlights that society is in continuous flux and cannever come to a point of social consensus. In this regard, social conflicts arenot necessarily involved in outraging violence every now and then. However, itcauses inevitable tension and fearful environment in the society.
As aconsequence, it affects the everyday life in the society. Due to this impact ofsocial conflicts on the society; it is necessary for sociologists whilestudying any community, culture, institution or organization to keep in mindfew questions such as “who is the profit maker, who is exploited and who triesto dominate on whom”.6The conflict theory is more inclined to study conflicts between genders,castes, socio-economical classes etc. Also, it is concerned to find privilegedand non-privileged members in various institutions such as government, family,religion and education.Conflicttheory is a practical approach to look at the today’s society where inequalityin terms of power, education, wealth and other means of production is alreadypresent. Even though it seems more negative to approach the society, itprovides the base to think on the root causes of those and to find solution ofthose problems.
It gives another perspective to make social changes in thesociety on the basis of redistribution of resources. It stresses on oppressedand marginalized people by the upper class of the society so that they can bemotivated to fight collectively against injustice and inequality. Forsociologist, it challenges to view the society from the point of view of thepeople who are mostly exploited by other classes. 4. IMPACT OF KARLMARX THEORY ON SOCIETY KarlMarx had practical way to tackle the problems prevalent in the society. Hestudied the society and found that alienation is the major problem of thesociety which is rooted in the economical structures. This alienation givesrise to low self-esteem, lack of autonomy, lack of self realization anddestruction of human dignity in the lower classes of the society.
Therelationship between the master and laborer is not friendly. It was obviousthat masters were exploiting there laborers in terms of getting moreproduction, accumulating more wealth and to fulfill their needs. Thisexploitation was threat to the freedom of the individuals of the lower classes.They were encountering humiliation and unjust life.Heobserved that there is lack in class consciousness in the lower class.
Theydon’t have proper information and motivation in order to come together for acause. Actually, they struggle for their daily livings which they don’t want torisk because there is no any other alternative to do so. They believe thattaking risk will not worth and won’t be able to change anything. They livetheir lives by hoping that one day their life situation will change.Eventually, these reasons and justifications make their life more miserable.This kind of attitude never allows them to have co-ordination or cooperationamong the members of the lower class. Marx believes that sense of cooperationand class consciousness can bring revolution in the society and will help themto get back their identity and human dignity.
5. CONCLUSION Thevision of Karl Marx was to change the society into utopian society. To havesociety free from injustice, inequality and conflicts was an idea of Marx. Thissounds too idealistic to attain. This is a kind of dream world in itself. Eventhough, he was too radical and harsh in interpreting the society (economybased); his ideas were revolutionary and helped to fight against the evolvingcapitalism and exploitation of workers of that time. Also, it contributed anddeveloped in other sociological and philosophical theories which ultimatelyimproved the standard of the society. 6.
BIBLIOGRAPHY· Joseph,Jonathan. Marxism and Social Theory. NewYork: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.· Stacks,Don, Mark Hickson, Sidney R. Hill. AnIntroduction to Communication Theory.
Florida: Holt, Rinehart and Winston,Inc., 1991.· Rao,Shankar C.N. Sociology: Principles ofSociology with an Introduction to Sociological Thouhgt. New Delhi: S.
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Reprint, 2014.1Cf., Jonathan Joseph, Marxism and SocialTheory (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), 18-20.2Cf., Don W. Stacks and others, AnIntroduction to Communication Theory, (Florida: Holt, Rinehart and Winston,Inc.
, 1991), 218.3Cf., Jonathan Joseph, Marxism and SocialTheory (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), 10-12.4Ibid.
5Cf., C. N. Shankar Rao, Sociology:Principles of Sociology with an Introduction to Sociological Thought (NewDelhi: S.
Chand & Company Pvt. Ltd., 1990; reprint, 2014), 256-259.6C. N. Shankar Rao, Sociology: Principlesof Sociology with an Introduction to Sociological Thought (New Delhi:S.
Chand & Company Pvt. Ltd., 1990; reprint, 2014), 27.