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Marxist Inequality

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Social Inequality

Unit 04

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What are Marxist theories of inequality?

Learning targets:

• Marxism is concerned for the poor and powerless. • It claims that society is in conflict between the rich who control everything and the poor who must work for the rich and gain little in reward for their work. • The rich are able to maintain their position of power through control of the law, the police and other forms of authority. • The rich also control the manufacture of ideas about society through controlling the media and education so poor people are taught to believe that capitalism is a good thing.

Key questions

(AO1) What is the Marxist view of society?

(AO1) What causes inequality according to Marxists?

(AO2) What are the strengths of the Marxist view?

(AO2) What are the weaknesses of the Marxist view of inequality?

Summary of Key Points

Karl Marx (1818 - 1883) was an economist, philosopher and journalist who was motivated by concern for workers who were experiencing terrible poverty while all around was great wealth and power. He was a revolutionary who believed in working for a classless society.

Marxism was not a powerful force in sociology until the 1960s and 1970s when it formed the basis of a challenge to functionalism. It offered a better account of the divisions of society at that time than functional sociology did. Marxism also triggered many of the ideas that were adopted by feminists later in the 1970s.

Marxism is often referred to as a conflict theory. Functionalists see society as consisting of shared values. Marxists see society as being divided by conflict between the social groups, or classes who make up society. Marx believed that social change is the natural order of societies. In each form of society there are those who control property…...

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