Marxian School of Sociology

Marxist sociology is the manner in which society is viewed through the Marxist viewpoint. A powerful glance, insight and summary of Marxist sociology was offered by Friedrich Engels in his book The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, where he says, "With the transfer of the means of production into common ownership [communism], the single family ceases to be the economic unit of society.... The care and education of the children becomes a public affair; society looks after all children alike, whether they are legitimate or not."

In the system that Marx created, the essence of society is ordained by economics: its religion, culture, law and politics. Every economic system, regardless if it is socialism, capitalism or feudalism, resolves how we relate to one another so that everything operates in an efficient manner. The structure of the society is determined by the way a product is produced, which determines the way people deal with each other.

Marxist sociology believes that all of society is predetermined by the prevailing economic forces. Economic forces supersede man's free will and the economic system that a society operates determines the society and in turn man's consciousness. Man is powerless and insignificant against the powerful forces of society. Marx believed that in order to learn from and understand history, man must rely on the societal conditions as the real determining factor of the development of the society and not on the good intentions of men. The powerful evolutionary forces of society are too strong to be in any way affected by the wishes or actions of a few men.

Marxist sociology believes that the economic forces are those that determine society. However, Marx also concluded that the time would come when all men would take part in creating a new phase of social development, and the abolishment of the capitalist working class and the creation of communism. He explained this phenomenon by saying that usefulness and disposition are indeed determined by society, but that is only until the time comes when a new society must be created. This new society that will be created will provide for a working-class revolution in which society will control production. Marx firmly believed that the coming of the communist society is inevitable, and individuals are free enough to create this new society called communism.

Marxist sociology views the economic system as the most important factor of any social institution, and the economy and social system as being closely intertwined. Since the economic structure is constantly in the process of developing, therefore all institutions of society are also constantly changing and evolving. These constant changes occur regardless of what actions individuals may take, and at times even occur in spite of their actions. The next step in the socio-economic evolution will be the abolishment of ownership of private property and the establishment of a socialist system which will result in the emergence of a new world order. This new society that will be created will establish a working-class system of education and families founded upon atheistic communism, materialism and a system that stresses equality. Marx was convinced that the system would work.

In his Collected Works, Lenin summarized Marx's "infallible" theory in the following way: "Just as Darwin put an end to the view of animal and plant species being unconnected, fortuitous, 'created by God' and immutable, and was the first to put biology on an absolutely scientific basis by establishing the mutability and the succession of species, so Marx put an end to the view of society being a mechanical aggregation of individuals which allows [for] all sorts of modification at the will of the authorities...and which emerges and changes casually." He went on to claim that Marx was the first to give a scientific foundation to sociology, showing that society was the total of production relations, and that the development of such relationships is a natural progression.

Marxian School of Sociology: Selected full-text books and articles

Marxist Sociology By Tom Bottomore Holmes & Meier, 1975
Marxism and the City By Ira Katznelson Clarendon Press, 1993
The Concept of Social Structure By Douglas V. Porpora Greenwood Press, 1987
Librarian's tip: Chap. 7 "The Durkheimian and Marxian Conceptions of Social Structure" and Chap. 8 "Carrying the Marxian Conception of Social Structure beyond Marx"
American and Soviet Society: A Reader in Comparative Sociology and Perception By Paul Hollander Prentice Hall, 1969
Librarian's tip: "On Soviet Sociology: The Soviet View" begins on p. 511
Class Structure in the Social Consciousness By Stanislaw Ossowski; Sheila Patterson Free Press of Glencoe, 1963
Librarian's tip: Chap. 5 "The Marxian Synthesis"
The Promise of the City: Space, Identity, and Politics in Contemporary Social Thought By Kian Tajbakhsh University of California Press, 2001
Librarian's tip: Chap. 1 "Marxian Class Analysis, Essentialism, and the Problem of Urban Identity"
Why the Anti-Marxists Are Wrong By Fisk, Milton Monthly Review, Vol. 38, March 1987
Walter Benjamin and Marxism By Lowy, Michael Monthly Review, Vol. 46, No. 9, February 1995
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