Assess the Usefulness of Marxism and Other Conflict Theories of Our Understanding of Society.

2104 Words Jun 18th, 2013 9 Pages
Assess the usefulness of Marxism and other conflict theories of our understanding of society.
Marxism is a useful conflict theory in helping us to understand why there was obedience, particularly in the past in society. Marx was seen as an economic determinist, as he believed that the functioning and running of society was based upon the economy. Because of this, Marx says that is why there was a divide between the proletariat (working class who have only their skills to sell) and the bourgeoisie (the ruling class who own the means of production). The bourgeoisie cannot operate without the proletariat, as they cannot produce products, and similarly the proletariat cannot operate without the bourgeoisie, as they need them so they can be
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However, in the 21st century, society has radically changed according to Horkheimer, and it is now possible for capitalism to make money out of desires (particularly sex), which are now emphasized due to the fact that sex sells a wide range of products. Therefore, even our wants and desires are manipulated by capitalism in its own interests. Because of these changes, it has increased the life time of capitalism rather than reducing it as Marx predicted.
Feminism is a second main conflict theory, which is similar to Marxism in its views (exploitation/domination), but unlike Marxism which is the exploitation of the proletariat by the Bourgeoisie, Feminism focuses on the dominance of women by men. Walby (1990) helps us in our understanding of society today, with particular reference to the current structure of nuclear families in society. The traditional role of a woman in a family is to carry out expressive roles (housewife and mother) whereas the role of the man is to carry out instrumental roles (breadwinner). Walby argues that legislation plays a major part in reinforcing traditional gender roles. He states that although legislation such as the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 has been implemented to try and reduce patriarchy, there are still many state policies that suggest that women and men have different roles. For example, statutory maternity pay for women far outweighs the 10 days of statutory paternity pay given to men. This therefore suggests, according to
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