Karl Marx’s contribution to sociology is indisputably great, as he is considered one of the most influential theorists in the sphere of sociology. He is well-known for criticizing Capitalism and the political, economic, and social consequences that it can bring. He vividly describes his vision and provides the advantages of Communism in his works, predominantly in “The Manifesto of the Communist Party” and “Capital” (Crossman). Also, he introduced such concepts as false consciousness, base and superstructure, and historical materialism, which are cited in numerous works of other researchers.
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According to Marx’s conflict theory, when power and resources are unequally distributed in the society, the conflicts occur between different groups of people, some of them demanding for social changes and equality, while others resist, as they do not want to lose the power and capital. Marx’s conflict theory focuses on the reasons for the occurrence of social conflicts and their consequences (Crossman). In this theory, there are two opposing parties, namely, bourgeois (or the upper class consisting of capitalists) and the proletariat (or the working class consisting of poor people).
The appearance of Capitalism in Europe gave Marx the idea that this system would not last long because of the large chasm between the rich and the poor. He theorized that the feeling of social injustice would give the stimulus to the working class to demand changes and that the feeling of reluctance to share power in the upper class would force them to resist (Carter 113). Thus, in Marx’s opinion, Capitalism causes the alienation of the masses and the constantly growing indignation of the proletariat for being exploited by the bourgeois.
In terms of Marx’s philosophy, he created the so-called dialectical materialism based on Hegel’s dialectics, which is dialectical idealism. Marx thought that the main focus of dialectics should not be placed on the ideal world but the material world. Marx’s dialectical materialism maintains the material aspect of the ever-changing reality of economic activity and production. His theory became the philosophical basis of Communism.
Thus, according to Marx, Capitalism will eventually cause a revolution, which will result in either suppression of the proletariat by the bourgeois or its victory. In the first scenario, the revolution will inevitably repeat until the bourgeois is defeated (Carter 154). In the second scenario, the social system will change, and Capitalism will be ousted by Communism, where everybody will take according to their needs and give according to their abilities.
The Relevance of Marx’s Ideas on Contemporary Capitalist Societies
Despite the changes that have occurred in capitalist societies since Marx’s times, his theory is still relevant today. The reason for this is that in most countries, there is still a big chasm between the rich and the poor. Although in developed countries, people have managed to find a compromise, there are still people who are unhappy with the situation they are in.
As for Communism, certainly, after such major failures with its implementation in the 20th century, which caused many wars and resulted in many human casualties, people either despise it or are skeptical about its successful realization (Sunkara). However, certain countries have managed to adopt Socialism, the milder version of Communism, and are now thriving.
The notion of “Social Exploitation”
The notion of “social exploitation” is one of the central concepts in the conflict theory in sociology. The reason for this is that it is, in fact, one of the main causes of the conflict between the proletariat and bourgeois. Marx thought that social exploitation is inevitable in the capitalist society; therefore, the conflict between the rich and the poor is also unavoidable (Carter 46). Thus, the main focus of Marx’s sociology is to find a solution to this conflict in the form of Communism where everybody will be happy.
Carter, Bob. Capitalism, Class Conflict, and the New Middle Class (RLE Social Theory). Routledge, 2014.
Crossman, Ashley. “Understanding Conflict Theory.” ThoughtC. 2017, eb.
Sunkara, Bhaskar. “Why the Ideas of Karl Marx Are More Relevant Than Ever in the 21st Century?” The Guardian. 2013, Web.