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TERM PAPER FOR SOCIOLOGY OF SCIENCE ON

MARXS IMAPACT ON SOCIOLOGY

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Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx (5 May 1818 14 March 1883) was a German philosopher, sociologist, economic historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist who developed the socio-political theory of Marxism. His ideas have since played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement. He published various books during his lifetime, with the most notable being The Communist Manifesto (1848) and Capital (18671894), many of which were co-written with his friend, the fellow German revolutionary socialist Friedrich Engels. Karl Marx created a philosophical and sociological critique of capitalism that was transformed into a number of different political and philosophical movements. His theories have had a tremendous impact on the modern world, surpassed only by (perhaps) those of Darwin and Freud. Few thinkers have had as much influence on the social sciences as the German social theorist Karl Marx. His stress upon dialectical analysis in which society is treated as a historically evolving and systemically interrelated whole has had a profound impact on political science, economics and sociology. This dialectical method, which seeks to uncover the full context of historically specific social interactions in any given system, is used by Marx as a tool for understanding class relationships under capitalism and as a means for altering such structures fundamentally. For Marx, immanent critique of capitalist society anticipates revolutionary change. Uniting theory and practice, Marx declared in his Theses on Feuerbach: The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it (Marx 1845). How society itself might evolve and how one might change society are, therefore, questions of the utmost importance in the Marxian schema. Karl Marx never called himself a sociologist, but he had immense influence on sociology and the other social sciences. He is better known outside the social sciences for his writing about communism. He said that the working class will defeat the ownership class, and result in a utopia where government will wither away to nothing and the principle of economics will be based on "For each according to his needs, and from each according to his ability." His contribution to

thinking in sociology is mainly in a perspective called "Conflict Theory" in which social organization and change is based upon conflicts built into society. He did not define the perspective nor coin the word. Those who use the perspective draw from his writings. His notions of change were built on the writing of a philosopher, Hegel, who developed the concept of the dialectic. This notion was based on the idea that everything had within itself the seeds of its own destruction, but that a new form would rise from the ashes of the resulting destruction. Marx took this idea of the dialectic and applied it to society, saying that the origins of change are all materialistic, not based on ideas. An important concept of the conflict approach, after seeing social dynamics as a product of competition over resources, is that those in power (with wealth) had vested interests to perpetuate the system which put them at the top of the social heap. The idea has been applied from micro to macro levels, such as from family dynamics to national social organization. The conflict approach, derived from his writings, has been borrowed by and adapted to a large number of topics in sociology. Marx himself never actually suggested revolution (he saw it more as a logical result of exploitation rather than an action to be taken). But politically, Marx' theory spawned a number of actual revolutionary movements (communism, socialism, Marxism, and a number of currently forgotten ones such as syndicalism), which in their various ways attempted to overthrow and remove the capitalist class from social and political power. The impact of movements of this sort can be seen everywhere in the world: from actual communist and socialist nations to minimum-wage laws, welfare assistance, labor unions, and other working-class protections in ostensibly capitalist societies. Most of these are still highly contentious. Communist societies tend towards totalitarianism, and are often criticized for their inability to stamp out social classes or improve quality of life for their populaces. Unions, welfare, and minimum wage laws are often attacked from both the far left and the far right: the far right sees them as inhibitions to market forces, while the far left sees them as sops designed to keep the lower classes from getting too miserable while the capitalist class continues its exploitation.

Marx played multiple roles during his life time. Marx is a socialist prophet, a political organizer, and a social theorist. As a prophet he forecast the eventual revolution of the working class, the destruction of capitalism, and the establishment of a stateless, socialist society (Note 1). As a political organizer (and propagandist) Marx wrote to inspire men and women to immediate action rather than thought. While he wove his prediction and calls to action into his analyses of capitalist society, the revolution and its socialist aftermath are clearly the most speculative parts of his theoretical structure--prophesized perhaps more in hope and faith than in rigorous analysis. Rejecting this vision of an inevitable and workable socialist society, there is still much of value and use in Marx's analysis of Capital. As a theorist, his writings have had an enormous impact on all of the social sciences. His most significant contribution is in establishing a conflict model of social systems. Rather than conceiving of society as being based on consensus, Marx's theory posits the domination of a powerful class over a subordinate class. However, this domination is never long uncontested. It is the fundamental antagonism of the classes which produces class struggle that ultimately changes sociocultural systems. The engine of sociocultural change, according to Marx, is class struggle. Social conflict is at the core of the historical process. Another significant contribution is that Marx locates the origin of this social power in the ownership or control of the forces of production (also referred to as the means of production). The production of economic goods--what is produced, how it is produced, and how it is exchanged--has profound effect on the rest of the society. For Marx, the entire sociocultural system is based on the manner in which men and women relate to one another in their continuous struggle to secure needed resources from nature. Another contribution to the social sciences lies in Marx's analysis of capitalism and its effects on workers, on capitalists themselves, and on the entire sociocultural system. Capitalism as an historical entity was an emerging and rapidly evolving economic system. Marx brilliantly grasped its origin, structure, and workings. He then predicted with an astonishing degree of accuracy its immediate evolutionary path

In the period following Marxs death, this scientific study of society became central to the discipline of sociology. As Bottomore (1983) suggests, some of the early sociologists, such as Ferdinand Tnnies, acknowledged their indebtedness to Marx, just as others for example, Max Weber and Emile Durkheim pursued their sociological work in critical opposition to Marxism. Still, there have been notable Marxist contributions to sociology by Carl Grnberg, Karl Kautsky, Franz Mehring and Georges Sorel. And despite early communist governments directives against sociology as a bourgeois discipline, sociological studies were published by Russian and Austro-Marxists, as well as by Western Marxists and the critical theorists of the Frankfurt School. While such writers as Georg Lukcs, Karl Korsch and Antonio Gramsci developed the historical materialism of the Marxist paradigm, others, such as Louis Althusser and Nicos Poulantzas, have combined that paradigm with various insights from structuralism, functionalism and systems theory. Marxs impact on sociology advanced elsewhere on both theoretical and research fronts. Marxs political economy inspired Althussers structural Marxism, which theorized the operation of social structures outside of human agency, and analytical Marxism, which placed the rational actor at the center of analysis (Elster 1985; Roemer 1986). One influential perspective sharing this latter approach was Erik Olin Wrights (1976) work on the contradictory class locations in advanced capitalism, as well as his studies of Class, Crisis, and the State (1978). Theda Skocpols States and Social Revolutions (1979) advanced class analysis through a historical-comparative study of state formation, while Michael Burawoy (1990) examined how Marxs scientific commitments inform the history of political strategies of radical movements. Scholars outside of conventional Marxism, such as feminist theorists and researchers (Smith 1977) and criminologists (Richard Quinney), increasingly incorporated Marxist ideas in an intellectual climate that also brought renewed attention to the work on race relations previously done by W. E. B. Du Bois and Oliver Cox, each of whom Marx had influenced.

REFERENCES:
"KARL MARX" by Chris Matthew Sciabarra Wikipedia : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Marx Raymond A. Morrows article in Encyclopedia of Sociology Marx, Karl: Impact on Sociology, International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences The Sociology of Karl Mar by Frank Elwell