Karl Marx’s Contributions To Sociology

While known to many fro his economic stance on the nature exploitation, Karl Marx has also had a great deal of input into the development of several of the other social sciences. This essay seeks to briefly outline the history of the man, some of his most powerful assertions and the ways in which they have influenced formation of policies.

Karl Marx was born in Germany in 1818 and although it might seem incongruent, his family was somewhat wealthy. His interest in the unequal distribution of wealth in society did not come from his own experiences with poverty but rather his observation of it and the books he read. His reading habits in college were a more clear indicator of the stance he would eventually take.

His life’s work and theories are often condensed into a single theory known as Marxism. This describes societies as going through stages of class struggle in which exploitation is necessary for the entire system to function. Under capitalism, the proletariat masses are forced to exchange their labor for unfavorable wages to the ruling class or bourgeoisie. All the systems within society are structured so that members of the proletariat accept their position and have very little chance of rising out of it. The level of exploitation was however expected to steadily rise until eventually those at the bottom of the social pyramid achieve ‘class consciousness’ or awareness of their own hopelessness. This would lead them to take power from the ruling classes and redistribute it evenly throughout society in a new system known as communism.

These theories were outlined in his many published works including “The Communist Manifesto” and “Das Kapital”. He viewed what most people define as communism as an imperfect system that should be used as a step toward another level of stateless society in which there are no classes or individual property rights and the need for money has disappeared completely. While his views have largely influenced the policies of the Soviet Union, China and Cuba, no country can claim to have reached that particular stage as yet.

Marx’s views on society may not be in keeping with the most common economic system in the world today but it cannot be argued that his impact on the world was a small one. His vision of a classless society lives on in the works of futurists such as Jacques Fresco.

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