Sociological Theory: Karl Marx: Major features of capitalist mode of production

Essay by cookiesurgUniversity, Bachelor'sB, July 2010

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Karl Marx is one of the outstanding and influential social scientists of the 19th century, an undeniable founder of modern social science. Some critics, however, believe that Marx was not an original thinker and that his claim to recognition lies in the fact of his remarkable synthesis of German Philosophy, French Sociology and English Economics of his time. He collected the stray and isolated thoughts in these fields and constructed a coherent intellectual mansion for academic enlightenment and practical application, very much according to his own design. Hegel's dialectical process or principle of development through thesis, anti-thesis and synthesis provided the philosophical background for his theory of historical development through 'contradiction and conflict'. However, he replaced Hegel's notion of the development of the 'Idea' through the dialectical process to its final and highest form with the 'Materialism' of Feuerbach and introduced the concept of dialectical materialism to explain the historical process through 'class war'.

He derived both the phrase and the concept of "class war" from French socialists like Saint-Simon and Charles Fourier. On the Economics side, Marx adopted in its entirety the Ricardian theory that labor was the source of value and developing it drew conclusions which Ricardo might have disdained. Thus, in short, Marx's social theory consists of three parts, with a fourth one thrown in later, and very ingeniously interwoven to present a coherent picture of a social organization, at once dynamic and in a state of flux. First is a philosophy of history anchored in the theory of Dialectical Materialism, which is manifested in a recurring class war in which the negation of the negation produces ever new negations. Secondly, there is the economic analysis which gives an exposition of a theory of value in an attempt to discover the secrets and the process of...