UPSC SOCIOLOGY – Paper 1 – SOCIOLOGICAL THINKERS – Karl Marx- Historical materialism, mode of production, alienation, class struggle.
- This concept is explored in ‘Contribution to the Critic of Political Economy 1859.
- It is a conception of society in terms of evolution from one state to another, which Marx refers to as Modes of Production and Material or Economic factors have a pivotal role in historical change.
- His theory is called Historical because analysis is in terms of evolution from one state to another.
- It is called materialistic for two reasons –
Firstly, his conception of societies based upon materialistic and not metaphysical factors which are understood in terms of material production.
Secondly, understanding of change is based upon changing material conditions and not ideas.
TWO ASPECTS OF HISTORICAL MATERIALISM
- Materialistic conception of society is in terms of economic infrastructure and social superstructure – this was created by Marx to understand the modes of production of society.
- He understands the historical evolution process in terms of a dialectic process where two opposing forces interact with each other and new structures are produced and the dialectic process continues.
HISTORICAL OR DIALECTICAL MATERIALISM
- Marx was inspired by Hegelian notions of dialectical materialism.
- Marx retained dialectical approach of Hegel but replaced the idealism with materialism.
- Marx believed that material sources or conditions and not ideas per se are important in the working of any mode of production.
- Material world is characterized by its own independent existence and is not a result of human thinking.
FORCES OF PRODUCTION AND RELATIONS OF PRODUCTION
- In order to produce, man must enter into relations with others.
- Apart from relations, some forces of production are also required which include tools technique, things, etc.
- Relations of production:
Relation between man and man – They pertain to the associations which individuals form inorder to undertake production. This associations lead to stratification, like haves and have nots.
Relations between man and things – They are in the nature of ownership and non-ownership of things required in the production. The haves have control over the production process and the have nots are non-owners in the production process.
MODE OF PRODUCTION
- Economic Infrastructure – it includes forces and relations, i.e, men,things, classes, tools, etc.
- Social Superstructure – it includes all other aspects of society like culture, law, family religion, education and is largely shaped by economic infrastructure.
- Economic infrastructure shapes social superstructure which in turn helps in the functioning of economic infrastructure.
CONTRADICTION BETWEEN OLDER AND NEWER FORCES OF PRODUCTION
- In every society, there is centrality of one major thing.
- For example, in feudal society, land is central and in capitalist society, capital is central.
- Forces of production also represents man’s control over nature.
- As history proceeds, man’s control over nature increases.
- Man and nature are also in a state of constant struggle and the development in the forces of production can be seen in terms of man’s increasing control over nature.
- A major contradiction in any production activity is that there is a conflict between forces and relations of production.
- For example, in capitalist production, forces of production include collective production by a large number of workers, yet they are privately controlled by the capitalist. This leads to mutual antagonism.
- Only focussed on material factors – a kind of economic reductionism.
- He emphasized conflict and ignored the social order aspect.
- He focussed primarily on macro evolutionary aspect and ignored the micro reality of social life.