Materialism is generally referred to as the association people have with material possessions. Materialism should not be confused with consumerism although the two are closely related. Materialism is mostly studied in the context of how people possess and associate themselves with items. However, it is possible to examine the concept of materialism from a political standpoint. Exploring materialism from a social-political point of view involves focusing on ‘materialistic individuals’. Several sociologists and other theorists express differing views about how materialism is reflected in the social environment. Some of the pertinent voices on materialism include Carl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Max Weber. This paper is a critical reflection on the issues surrounding materialism.
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Carl Marx is arguably the most prominent voice on the issues of politics and materialism. According to Marx, material resources play an important role when it comes to negotiation of powers. Marx’s views and ideologies have been varyingly accepted and rejected by several governments and administrations around the world. The administrations of the government of the United States and the People’s Republic of China are examples of differing views on materialism. While China seems to embrace Carl Marx’s views on materialism, the United States stands firmly against them. These readings are able to explore how this philosophy has changed over time using examples such as industrialization and feudal periods. It should be noted that fundamental principles of materialism have remained the same over time. Materialism affects people’s social life today the same way it did in the feudal period. The example of Canada’s materialism trends applies to most capitalistic countries around the world. The most contentious issue when exploring materialism is its relation to feminism and inequality. It is likely that the class system applies more to feminism and inequality than materialism does.
Several sociologists and other theorists dispute the fact that materialism is the only ‘true’ measure of the proximity to power. Moreover, these opponents of this stand have forwarded other theories concerning materialism and acquisition of power. Markers of social status are said to be other factors that are used to seek and retain power among individuals. According to sociologists, these markers are more relevant when explaining power issues in a modern society. While this argument could be considered simplistic and shallow, it can be easily contextualized using the lives of many people today. Markers of social status are encountered everyday by all individuals. For example, different people use these markers to consolidate power in the school, work, political, and even religious environments. As Carl Marx’s main critic, Weber put forward a solid argument against Marx’s views on materialism. Of the two sociologists, Weber’s views are more solid and practical even after preliminary criticisms.
The relationship between power, inequality, materialism, and conflict is well explored in these readings. The main sociologists behind the analysis of this relationship are Marx and Weber. According to Marx, the inequality that comes from materialism is responsible for the rising instances of class conflicts that are witnessed during struggles for power. However, Weber focuses on a broader look at class issues even though power is the central consideration. The fundamental differences within the arguments of the two sociologists are important when it comes to understanding capitalism and power institutions.
The importance of Marx’s arguments is in the fact that power and materialism cannot be ignored. However, his arguments seem to have been overcome by those of the sociologists that came after him. The study of materialism and how it affects other social issues such as capitalism, employer-employee relations, government institutions, among other issues is important to sociology. Moreover, it is still an ongoing process.