Why Don't Class Politics Predominate in Advanced Industrial Societies Advanced Capitalism Social Differentiation and Politics  Essay

  • Length: 5 pages
  • Subject: Sociology
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #48546093

Excerpt from Essay :

Politics Predominate in Advanced Industrial Societies? Advanced Capitalism, Social Differentiation, and Politics

The focus of this work is to examine the question asking why it is that class politics fail to be predominant in advanced industrial societies. Towards this end, this work will review the work of Karl Marx entitled "Classes" (1867) and the work of Calhoun, et al. (2012) entitled "Contemporary Sociological Theory."

Summary of the Theories

The work of Bourdieu (1976) entitled "Outline of a Theory of Practice" demonstrated the development of the core of his theory as an effort to "understand the clash between enduring ways of life and larger systems of power and capital, the ways in which cultural and social structures are reproduced even amid dramatic change, and the ways in which action and structure are not simply opposed but depend on each other." (Calhoun, et al., 2012, p.325-26) In addition, Bourdieu is reported to have "woven these many different intellectual sources together in an original and powerful perspective." (Calhoun, et al., p.326) In Bourdieu's work entitled Pascalia Meditations (2001) he is reported to have "reflected on the way these sources influenced his work…" however, primarily, Bourdieu focused on empirical analyses, putting his theory to work seeking to understand class and cultural hierarchies in France, the role of schools in reproducing inequality, the University and the field of scholarship, the way literature and especially novels emerged as a distinctive field from other kinds of wring, and the way people experience and respond to poverty and social inequality." (Calhoun, et al., 2012, p.326) Calhoun, et al. (2012) reports that the primary concern of Bourdieu was the "ways in which action and structure were joined in an always incomplete but powerful process of structuration, the ways in which inequality was reproduced even amid economic growth, the reasons people misrecognize social conditions and sometimes participate in imposing limits on themselves, and the ways in which different kinds of value -- say on art or on education or on money -- were organized in relation to each other." (p.326)

II. Key Concepts and Theoretical Strategy

One of the primary motivations of Bourdieu was the determination to "transcend the closely related but misleading dichotomies of objectivism/subjectivism and of structure/action. It is reported that when taken together these dichotomies "have marked relatively stable poles in the social science, with structural explanation tending to see social life as completely external and objective and action-oriented sociology looking at social life through subjective experience." (Calhoun, et al., 2012, p.327) Bourdieu was influenced greatly by structuralism however, structuralism fell short as it generally explained only the structuring of action as being the result of "external forces that either push us in one direction or constrain us from going in another. It was the belief of Bourdieu that a social science should be based on the study of actors "who always have some practical knowledge about their worked, even if they cannot articulate that knowledge." (Calhoun, et al., 2012, p.328) In other words, the internalization of social structure arises from the individual learning from previous experiences to master practically how to approach actions that considers objective constraints. (Calhoun, et al., 2012, p.329)

Karl Marx writes in the work entitled "Classes" (1867) that the owners "merely of labor power, owners of capital and land owners, whose respective sources of income are wages, profit and ground rent, in other words "wage laborers, capitalists and landowners comprised the three big classes of modern society based upon the capitalist mode of production." (Marx, 1867, p.190) Modern society in England is stated by Marx to be such that is comprised primarily by a "highly and classically developed economic structure" however, the stratification of classes still does not "appear in its pure form." (Marx, 1967, p.181) Marx does however state that it has been witnessed that the "continual tendency and law of development of the capitalist mode of production is more and more to divorce the means of production from labor, and more and more to concentrate the scattered means of production into large groups, thereby transforming labor into wage labor and the means of production into capital." (Marx, 1867, p.192) Marx notes the importance of asking the question of what constitutes a class. Reported as another critical question is "What makes wage laborers, capitalists, and landlords constitute the three great social classes?" ( p. 192)

Max Weber (1914) writes that the structure of every legal order serves to influence the distribution of power directly and this includes economically and otherwise within its respective community." Economically condition power is stated to be different with 'power' as the emergence of economic power "may be the consequence of power existing on other grounds." ( ) It is reported that economic power may arise from social power with social honor and prestige being the basis of economic power. Weber writes that the manner in which social honor is distributed in a community between groups participating in the distribution or 'status order' involves the social and economic orders being related in a similar manner to the legal order. The classes or status groups are stated to be a "phenomena of the distribution of power within a community." (Weber, 1914, p. 193) Classes are defined as being when (1) a number of people have in common a specific causal component of their life chances; (2) insofar as this component is represented exclusively by economic interests in the possession of good sand opportunities for income; and (3) is represented under the conditions of the commodity or labor markets. (Weber, 1994, p. 193) This is termed to define 'class situation'. (Weber, 1914, p. 193)

III. Causal Relationships and Social Mechanisms

The primary factor dividing the classes is the potential to compete in the market and this element makes the difference in the life chances of the individual. The law of marginal utility is such that this method of division of goods keeps those without wealth out of the competition for goods that are highly valued. Those who have the monopoly in acquisition of thee goods have increased power in the struggle of price against those without property. Those without property only have their labor and the products that result and they are forced to let go of the products for profit in order to barely survive financially. Property and lack of property, according to Weber are that which divides the classes. Furthermore, the classes are divided among those proffering services dependent upon the type of services offered. Weber relates that the degree to which social action is possible in terms of emerging from the members of a class behavior en masse is reported by Weber to be linked to "general cultural conditions, especially to those of an intellectual sort." (Weber, 1914, p. 194) Life chances are stated to result from: (1) the given distribution of property; or (2) the structure of the concrete economic order. (Weber, 1914, p. 194) When class is treated on a conceptual level as though it equals a 'group' a distortion occurs. Status groups serve to interfere with the sheer market principle. The problem is that people with and without property may belong to the same status groups and it is stated by Weber that "this equality of social esteem may, however, in the long run become quite precarious." (Weber, 1914, p. 194) This can be understood with clarity through consideration of the various individuals that comprise a status group, some of them propertied and others without property in an issue relating to property taxes. Those without property have no concern for property taxes as indeed they are exempt from this type of tax. Therefore, to expect these individuals to stand committed to a battle against property tax would be to ask them to enter into a debate in which they have no…

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