Theory and Methods Unit 4
Classical Marxism was founded by….
Base and Superstructure
Copy and explain this diagram (Browne pg 343)
Evolution of social Classes
Marx describes successive class societies and the evolution of private ownership in order to explain how work and
wealth are linked. This demonstrates how the economy is the base level of society.
Ancient society Feudal society Capitalist society Communist
Key Word: Means of production Key Word: Relations of Production
Key Word: Surplus value / product
Capitalism - What are 3 key features of capitalism?
Class consciousness: Explain how capitalism brings its own destruction and explain the term
Ideology: How does the ruling class prevent this destruction? Use the key terms mental
production, false consciousness and dominant ideology.
Alienation:What is it and for what two reasons is it a result of capitalism?
Two ways that Classical Marxism differs to Functionalism
The main way that Neo Marxism is different to Classical Marxism
Humanistic or Critical Marxism
Conflict of Interests Instability and Change
Antonio Gramsci (22 January 1891 – 27 April 1937) was an Italian writer,
politician, political theorist, philosopher, sociologist, and linguist. He was a
founding member and onetime leader of the Communist Party of Italy and was
imprisoned by Benito Mussolini's Fascist regime.
Gramsci was one of the most important Marxist thinkers in the 20th century. He
is a notable figure within modern European thought and his writings analyze
culture and political leadership. He is known for his theory of cultural
hegemony, which describes how states use cultural institutions to maintain
power in a capitalist societies.
Taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonio_Gramsci
Why are Gramsci’s writings considered to be humanistic? (Webb pg 229)
Two ways that the ruling class maintains its dominance over society
Why is the hegemony of the ruling class never complete??
What is the counter-hegemonic bloc?
What is an organic intellectual and how can they undermine capitalism?
Key Word: Hegemony (hedge emony!)
Key Word: Relative
Picture of an organic
This diagram shows the Marxist base superstructure model where
the base is the economic system which determines what the
superstructure (institutions and ideology) are like.
Althusser disagreed with this and suggested three levels where
each level has relative autonomy and some independence of each
Craib likened this model to a 3 storey house –
Use this picture to explain this. (Webb pg
The state doesn’t just have an economic function but must also function/ work politically and ideologically. How the
state works is called thestate apparatus. Explain these
Louis Pierre Althusser (16 October 1918 – 22 October 1990) was a French
Marxist philosopher. He was born in Algeria and studied in Paris.
Althusser was a longtime member—although sometimes a strong critic—of the
French Communist Party. His arguments and thesis were set against the threats
that hesaw attacking the theoretical foundations of Marxism. These included
both the influence of empiricism on Marxist theory, and humanist and reformist
socialist orientations which manifested as divisions in the European communist
parties, as well as the problem of the "cult of personality" and of
ideology.Althusser is commonly referred to as a structural Marxist, although his
relationship to other schools of French structuralism is not a simple affiliation
and he was critical of many aspects of structuralism.
Althusser's life was marked by periods of intense mental illness. During one of
his bouts, he killed his wife by strangling her.
The Repressive state apparatus (RSA)
Colour the boxes – one colour for Humanistic Marxism and another for Structuralist / Scientific Marxism
Humanistic Marxism Structuralist / Scientific Marxism
Based on Marx’s earlier writings Based on Marx’s later writings
Sees Marxism as a political critique of
capitalism and calls to overthrow it
Sees Marxism as a science discovering
the laws of how capitalism works
Socialism will come when the
contradictions in capitalism brings about
its own collapse
Socialism will come when people
become conscious of the need to
Encourages political action Discourages political action
Closer to an interpretivist approach and
Closer to a structural and positivist
Top down view of society Bottom up view of society
People actions shape history Structures and Institutions shape
Ideological state apparatus (ISA)
Is this picture (RSA or ISA) and why?
Evaluation of Neo- Marxism:
Summarise Neo Marxism in 5 sentences.
Or Write a tweet on neo Marxism.