Compare and contrast two sociological perspectives of your choice (Feminism and MarxiWatch this thread
For Marxists, the system we live in, which he called capitalism, divides everyone up into two basic classes: bosses and workers. Marx called the bosses the bourgeoisie or ruling class, because they controlled society and he called the workers the proletariat or working class. The ruling class benefit in every way from how society operates, while the workers get far less than they deserve.
However, Louis Althusser claims that ideology is part of the relation between the individual and society. Ideology means the norms and values that justify the capitalist system. He says, 'an ideology is a system of representations endowed with a historical existence and role within a given society'. This means that people act consciously though ideology, but ideology itself is unconscious. This agrees with Marx's views on the effect of ideology.
In addition, Marxism has been accused of ignoring the freedom of choice enjoyed by the individuals. People choose what to do and think-they are not ‘brainwashed’ by ideology. In this sense, Marxism too, may present an ‘over socialized’ picture of human beings.
Also, Marxism, in general, has been criticized for claiming that all cultural activity is tailored to class or economic interests. Consequently, Marxists neglect the fact that culture may reflect religious, patriarchal, nationalistic and ethnic interests.
Furthermore, the Marxist approach to socialization is informed by its notion of ideology and the assertion that the ruling ideas are the ideas of the ruling class. Marxists believe that we are socialized according to our external influences. They argue that socialization is an ideological process, in which its main aim is to transmit the ruling-class idea that capitalist society is meritocratic, which means ‘if you work hard enough, you can get on’.
On the other hand, Feminism is a second main conflict theory, which is similar to Marxism in its views on exploitation and domination, but unlike Marxism, which is the exploitation of the proletariat by the Bourgeoisie, Feminism focuses on the dominance of women by men-it’s a conflict between gender, not class. Like Marxism, it is a macro approach. Feminists argue that an important status difference and source of inequality and conflict that is present is gender. They suggest that the UK is a patriarchal society (men generally have more power, prestige and economic power than women). In 2006, full-time working women earned approximately 17% less than men who were walking full-time and they were more likely to be in poverty. What’s more, women were still expected to be predominantly responsible for maintaining the home and childrearing.
Meanwhile, Feminists also believe that sexual discrimination is still a problem today and Natasha Walter, in ‘The New Feminism’, argues that women still need to achieve financial, educational, domestic and legal equality with men. Liberal feminists are rather optimistic, as they think that this will eventually happen. They believe that there have been steady improvements in the position of women, as more girls do well in education and more women have successful careers.
However, alternative feminists are not as hopeful compared to Liberal feminists. For example, Marxist-feminists argue that patriarchy suits the capitalist system as well as men, because women are unpaid domestic labourers, who service the male labour force, making them fit and healthy for work and who produce and rear the future workforce. True equality can only occur when the capitalism system is dismantled.
In contrast, the radical feminists believe that the patriarchal oppression and exploitation of women is built into every aspect of the way society is organized. The family is particularly identified as the social institution, where patriarchy is rooted. Radical feminists also believe that women are socialized into seeing motherhood as their main goal in life, through gender-role socialization.
Incidentally, my preferred perspective is Feminism, because there are various contrasting views on Feminism, for example: liberal, radical, black and Marxist (socialist), all express different views on Feminism. It is interesting, in the sense that, you can analyse, compare and contrast their different approaches to Feminism.
In conclusion, the Marxist and Feminist theories have various contrasting perspectives and opinions on society. Finally, Marxism and Feminism are both a conflict theory; however, Feminism is conflict between genders, unlike Marxism, which is between different classes.
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