Karl Marx and His Social Class Theory
What is Class?
Karl Marx developed a unique theory of social class. In these modern times, class distinctions have seemingly almost disappeared in our everyday social interactions. Some people no longer believe that a person’s class is relevant. Yet in some circumstances, comparative class studies are extremely useful to the social sciences.
These reasons could be: political or economic. It is sometimes necessary to see which underprivileged people are slipping through the net, to improve access to much needed health services, housing or educational programs. The Marxist perspective is in many ways concerned with: building a society from the bottom-up. This is often a popular political discussion, during times of economic crisis.
On meeting someone for the first time, most people would agree that after the initial introductions we usually ask what it is they do for a living. In the past, the men would work and the women stayed at home with the children. Now, more people need to work than in the past. There are no longer the working men’s clubs of yester-year. Class distinctions have become more subtle in the main.
Poor Living/Working Conditions
Marx lived in extremely difficult times and living conditions were poor for many people. This idea of class conflict should be viewed with sensitivity therefore. The industrial revolution had produced two main groups of people. They took the form of two distinct social classes.These were: the owners of the machinery and the people who worked for them.
There were no rules to protect the majority of workers. People were trying to campaign for political representation on a number of basic, survival issues in an attempt to improve their living and working conditions. If the theory seems at all fanatical, it is due to this very real struggle during this historical period which many people faced.
For Marx, the two classes he identified had opposing interests. Tthey were in effect at war with each other. From a historical perspective, people would certainly have felt like they were fighting for survival in some cases.We become conscious of a class to which we belong, when we identify with the people within it. This comes about through shared interests and motivations.
Who Owns The Machines?
Marxists believe that class is manifested, by how production is organized within a specific society. It is not so much the choices a person makes which defines their future. Rather it is the options available to them within the restrains imposed by the society they inhabit, which decides the fate of the individual.