Social Facts, Social Actions and Historical Materialism: a Theoretical Comparison

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Introduction In the first part of this essay, I will locate the three thinkers in the broader historical and epistemological context of their times. I shall present the main concepts of their theories and their methodologies. Then in an attempt of comparison, I will spot similarities and differences between them and summarize the sociological research strategies, which are coming from their ideas. In the concluding part of this essay, I will argue that Social Facts and actions are useful conceptions for the study of social phenomena, but Historical Materialism, provides a far more robust method of analysis. Identifying the causes of social phenomena in the material grounds of the process of production and class antagonism, Marx offers…show more content…
As Marx points out in the Capital, the relationship between those who control the means and condition labor and the direct producers, determines the relationship of rulers and ruled, as it grows directly out of production itself and, in turn, reacts upon it as a determining element. The economic community which grows out of the production relations, simultaneously shapes its specific political form (Marx, K. 1984, Capital, Vol. III, Ch. 47, section 2). “It is always the direct relationship of the owners of the conditions of production to the direct producers -a relation naturally corresponding to a definite stage in the development of the methods of labor and thereby its social productivity- which reveals the innermost secret, the hidden basis of the entire social structure" (Bottomore, T.B. 1983 citing Capital, Vol. III.). For Marx, every economic phenomenon is at the same time social as “the existence of a particular kind of economy presupposes a definite kind of society” (Giddens, A. 1971). He declares that it’s society that determines the individual consciousness and not vice versa (Marx, K. 1999). Society is not an aggregate of individuals but “the sum of interrelations, the relations within which, these individuals stand" (Marx, Κ. 1993). The capitalist class maintains
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