In this essay I propose to discuss two key sociological perspectives, Marxism and Radical and Liberal Feminism. I will also apply these theories to the family aspect of social life.
Marxism is a structural conflict theory as outlined originally by Karl Marx (1818-1883). Marx called the society we live in a capitalist society, and divided society into two basic classes. The ruling class or bourgeoisie as he called them, which was at the time of Marx the wealthy factory owners and land owners, and the working class which he called the proletariat. They were the factory workers. A capitalist society is one where the means of production are controlled by the ruling class with the aim of making money for themselves by exploiting the labours of the working class. The wage given to the workers in return the for their work is not proportionate to the work they do and the profits made by the ruling class.
The working class don't challenge the capitalist society they are living in because, as Marxists say, the ruling class control all sources of socialisation, from family to media. These social institutions tell the workers that the way they live and the norms and values they out across are normal and natural. 'The mode of production of material life conditions the general processes of social, political and intellectual life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness', (Marx, as cited in Investigating Culture and Identity, p.56) The working class is brainwashed by the ideology – ruling class ideas and a way of controlling society through ideas– of the wealthy and are encouraged to think that if they work as hard as they can for little money they can get somewhere in life. All creativity is taken away from the working class and they become bound by these ideas.
Society is governed by the ideas shown within these institutions, we need to buy expensive and unnecessary things to line the pockets of the rich, but they tell you that you need it, creating false needs, rather than telling the truth that they want more wealth. We get bogged down by TV shows and celebrities, for two reasons, we see their lives and want the same so we buy more and also by looking at celebrities lives, we forget about the inequalities in our own lives. Marxists describe this state of ignorance as false class consciousness. This is where we are not aware of our real identity of being oppressed and exploited workers.
As economic relationships are based on exploitation, class conflict is inevitable and Marxists believe that eventually we will need to wake up to what is happening and overthrow the capitalist society by rebelling. Marxism is a soft version of communism, the aim is to make the bourgeoisie fall, as the workers are already as low as they can go, why not stand up and fight for their rights, make the ruling class scared because they have a lot further to fall. A Marxist will tell you that...