This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Social Hierarchy In Marxism Essay

1242 words - 5 pages

What is the relevance of the term “social hierarchy” to the Marxist theory of thought?

I will explore this question using a definition of social hierarchy which states that it is a stratification of prestige and power. In Marxist theory of thought, who has power is defined by who owns the means of the production, meaning the resources, technology and human labour. Although there are many different types of social hierarchies, depending on what kind of power you are looking at (cultural, religious etc), Marxism defines power by economy, and so this is the form of social hierarchy which I will be working with in relation to Marxism.

Since Marx evaluated power according to economic ...view middle of the document...

Marx naturally observed that not all societies shared this organisation of modes of production, and that the variations were many. His stages went from primitive communism through to barbarism, slavery, feudalism, capitalism and finally, communism. In both primitive communism and barbarism, it can be very difficult to create a social hierarchy that is in line with the Marxist school of thought. Here the power structure is often evenly distributed, complex or egalitarian. I will look closer at this in my upcoming ethnographic examples.

The two societies I am going to discuss are very close linked, as Marshall Sahlins studied them in comparison to each other in 1963.

The Melanesian area stretches from New Guinea to Fiji and leaders here have traditionally held power due to individual accomplishments and achievements (achieved statuses). Many young men create an extensive network of exchange and gift giving in order to win enough respect and prestige among the people, that they qualify to become “big men”. In most Melanesian societies all men, regardless of heredity, can enter the competition. Because one becomes a big man through correctly going about the reciprocal gift exchange with relatives and friends, and a gift giving to strangers, it is crucial that the young man does not become greedy and keep any surplus value to himself, but rather evenly distributes it to the people around him who have helped him or whose trust he needs to win. A big man does not have autocratic power and his power his not absolute, other big men can challenge him. This means that the gift exchange has to continue in a way that the people are content with, in order for the big man to keep his position. According to Marxist theory of thought, this society fits best into the description of primitive communism; a society that is based on equalitarian hunting and distribution of resources. One can back this up further by stating that there is actually no evident, economic social hierarchy among most of the Melanesian tribes; the entire system is based on reciprocity, and the one who distributes the most of his surplus value is often the one who wins most respect within his tribe.

The Polynesian area, where’s society was compared to that of the Melanesian by Sahlins, covers many islands between New Zealand and Hawaii. The typical Polynesian power system has been based on ascribed statuses and hereditary values. Agriculture has been the main source of income, and all land is owned by different landlords, who have workers cultivating and labouring the land for them. The landlords demand taxes of the people and all surplus value goes directly to the...

Other Essays Like Social Hierarchy in Marxism

Assess the Marxist Views of the Roles of the Family

709 words - 3 pages Marxism is a macro theory based on the key concept of social classes; its main theorist is Karl Marx. The main Marxist views are that the class system is important, meaning that the lower classes work for the upper class; they also view that males are more dominant and are depended upon by women within society. These are all factors that contribute to serving the interests of capitalism. Marxists see all social institutions as serving the

To Live In A Vermin’S World: A Marxist View Of Kafka’S The Metamorphosis

2135 words - 9 pages , hence, seated in the social upper class—the bourgeoisie. According to Marxist theory, Gregor’s family and the boss are in the two opposite classes. Now that Gregor is a proletarian, his situation conforms to the condition of the occurrence of class struggles. Marxism states the perpetual existence of such conflicts so long as there exists antagonist classes generated by unjust social position and uneven capital distribution (Marx 120). In

Why was there a revolution in Russia in 1905?

374 words - 2 pages The Russian Revolution of 1905 was both anti-government and undirected violence against its Tsar. It was not controlled or managed. The causes were simple, freedom/democracy, food/jobs, which were led by the Socialist Revolutionary party and the workers, influenced by Marxism, were represented in the Bolshevik and Menshevik wings of the Social Democratic Labor party.The revolution was the culmination of a long period of repression and unrest

P1- Explain the Principle Sociological Perspectives

1234 words - 5 pages members. Marxism Marxism is a structuralise theory which considers that society is based on conflicts of interests and stresses the importance of the role of conflict. Critics’ state that this theory gives little freedom to individuals as the emphasis is on conflict; however, not every society is in conflict all the time. As Marxism considers that conflict is normal, it comes under criticism for this because under Marxism, social class play

Challenges to Ir

1352 words - 6 pages . I will initially look to elaborate on structuralism, one school of thought which is directly linked to Marxism and also critical theory which draws upon the work of Antonio Gramsci. To begin with, structuralism is heavily inspired by Marxist thought. Furthermore, structuralists believe that international economic systems are arranged in ways that work to benefit certain social ‘elite’ classes. It has a ‘bottom up’ perspective on the

The Failure of Culture

1130 words - 5 pages the role of the artist as observer. If the modern paradigm of expression holds, we have to choose between textual nihilism and the neodialectic paradigm of expression. Thus, the premise of the prepatriarchialist paradigm of reality suggests that the purpose of the participant is social comment. The primary theme of the works of Burroughs is the defining characteristic of structuralist language. In a sense, the example of the modern paradigm of

Security Issue in the Asia-Pacific Region

3163 words - 13 pages kind of false consciousness. In other words, both the bourgeoisie and the proletarian are parts of economic structure and construct social hierarchy together. Therefore, the third point completely opposite the first and the second points. The third point refers to enhance the security in the Asia-Pacific region. The second and the first points refer to threat the security in the Asia-Pacific region. In recent years, Diaoyu islands

Social Differences in Lord of the Flies

4273 words - 18 pages out the allegory related to class differences in the novel ‘Lord of the Flies’. William Golding did not support Marxism but still he criticizes the class differences and inequalities in a particular society and describes its drawbacks which lead society towards destruction and chaos. He also desired a classless society. THEORETICAL BACKGROUND: Marxism is a broad theory based on economical, political and social aspects including materialist

Confusionism

1522 words - 7 pages many of the philosophical doctrines are ambiguous. The Analects became the basis of the Chinese social lifestyle and the fundamental religious and philosophical point of view of most traditionalist Chinese intellectuals throughout history. The collection reveals Confucius as a person dedicated to the preservation of traditional ritual practices with an almost spiritual delight in performing ritual for its own sake. Doctrine Confucianism

The Vietnamese Family in Change

1629 words - 7 pages and has placed the partners on a more equal footing. Nevertheless, the second conclusion of the author is that, 'although the idea of social equality is put forward in some respects, the traditions of hierarchy still continue unabated (p.239)'. In his third conclusion he points to the narrow understanding of the concept of gender equality in Vietnamese society. He states: ' to achieve it in a Confucian society that has adopted Marxism, as Vietnam

Che Guevara And A New Paradigm Of Marxism This Paper Is Regarding Che Guevara's Separate Brand Of Marxism, Ie: How He Adpated Marxism To Work In The Cuban Jungles

3028 words - 13 pages century, socialism was pushed into new territory by just such a person. Seeking social change, Che Guevara sought to use a new Marxist-derivative as a tool in the liberation and unification of Latin America. Guevara's search for a new paradigm of Marxism resulted in a form of Marxist revolution differing from classical Marxism in three substantial ways. Firstly, Marx's view of the world was purely objectional, a scientific theory with an unvested

Related Papers

This Essay Is About Hamlet By William Shakespear And How The Story Would Be Different If Ophelia Was Closer To Hamlet In The Social Hierarchy Of Denmark

400 words - 2 pages If Ophelia were in a similar social position to Hamlet, the entire story would change. First, Polonius would not be against the marriage at all because if Hamlet loved Ophelia and Ophelia loved Hamlet and there were no social restrictions imposed upon them, then they would very likely marry. He would love the idea of having a daughter who is the princess of Denmark, especially since he kisses up to the king already. If Polonius was not against

Marxism Theory Essay

939 words - 4 pages that individuals allow themselves to be exploited by their employers and is a scrutinizing system where ideas are based on the change of social changes in terms of economic factors. In order to further understand the theory of Marxism and how it explains society we can look at the theories and views of key theorists. Karl Marx is one of the key theorists and believed that society is in a ‘state of conflict between the rich and poor’. Marx

The Marxist Model Of Class Structure And Conflict With Reference To The Caribbean

766 words - 4 pages that there is no hierarchy of any ethnic group at the top of the social ladder but a hierarchy of the cultural beliefs and practices. In addition, the creole society theory argues that the Caribbean is colour stratified and integrated around cultural practices. When compared to Marx, these theories better explain Caribbean society since they take into account factors race and colour rather than just saying society was made up of two major groups. Hence it can be concluded that the Caribbean theories would better explain Caribbean society than Marxism.

Assess The Contribution Of Marxism Essay

832 words - 4 pages Sociology essay Intro Assess the contribution of Marxism to our understanding of families and household. Marxism is the political and economic theory formed by Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels. “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.” – Karl Marx He is trying to say religion is the drug of people. It’s what keeps them alive in these