Social Theory - Essay Example

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Name of student: Topic: Lecturer: Date of Presentation: Marx and Engel Marx and Engel are popular social theorists whose work is based on criticisms to Hegel’s philosophical theory of history. They were more inclined to materialism as opposed to idealism which Hegel used to explain history…
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Social Theory
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Download file to see previous pages 66). Marx argues that there is a relation between ideas and material activity in society. The different ways of production thus determines relations. For example, in modern capitalist societies such as Britain, labour is valued and is exchanged voluntarily with wages so as to earn a living because the society is based on exchange of commodities and labour. All labour that is not used for producing commodities for exchange such as housework is valueless and is not accounted for in national income calculations as it does not add any value. The manner of production also divides the society into classes with one class being dominant and the other subordinate. In a society based on exchange, the bourgeoisie or capitalist is the owner of means of production hence is dominant and the wage labourer is subordinate. Contrary to Hegel’s perception that ideas were the forces in history, Marx argues that ‘ideas and beliefs symbolize our economic and class relations and experiences we have with others in society’ (Morrison, 2006 p. 66). He also acknowledges that the political economy develops in stages through historical events. In the critique of the political economy, they explained how economy moved from feudalism to capitalism as a result of English civil war which dismantled it thus putting land under private ownership. Serfs were separated from means of production hence were forced to offer their labour to owners of the means of production (Gaunt, 2000).Using the labour, the capitalists transform raw materials into finished products with own forces of production and become owners of the products. Labour in this case is transformed from its use-value into a commodity and become labour power which has an exchange value. They criticized the work of Adam Smith and Ricardo who were advocates of capitalism and were of the view that capitalist society is governed by fixed economic laws and that value was inherent in commodities. For Marx, consumption and production were related contrary to Smiths assertion that they were independent. He also saw commodities as not having value as they had two uses; consumption and exchange in the market. If a commodity is not for use as in feudal society, then value is obtained when it is exchanged in the market thus the labourers lose ability to freely employ means of production and have no control of the product (Morrison, 2006). The system of exchange thus determines the relations of production in capitalist societies. The exchange of labour according to Marx is a historically developed system of division of labour from family labour which only had use value to capitalism where labour power is exchanged for wages and that in future, labour would be free where one would work according to his needs. In Britain, the products produced by wage labourers are exchanged in the market and so as to measure value, the monetary system was introduced such that price actualizes the exchange-value instead of exchanging goods with other goods or with gold. However, prices are affected by other factors involved in the activity of exchange such as input prices. Marx acknowledges that wage labour is a form of exploitation (Marx & Engel, 2002). Wage labourers produce surplus value which Marx defined as the proportion of unpaid, surplus labour workers perform for their employer to the necessary labour workers pe ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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