Karl Marx (1818 83) was responsible for one of the first and most influential theories of class within the sociological discipline. For Marx, classes can be seen as basic social groups divided by their specific position within the division of labor, and distributed within society according to criteria such as ownership or non-ownership of the means of production and the need to sell or ability to buy labor. Marx also distinguished between a numbers of modes of production that were used to chart the sequence of historical development that resulted from changes in the economic base of society. At the time Marx was writing, the emergence of the most recent stage of economic development was becoming apparent, specifically, Capitalism. It is within this stage that a great deal of Marx's theories, concepts and arguments are centered.
[...] It is clear from the sheer amount of literature written on this topic that the complexity of class structures and division has some part play in the suppression of class conflict. Another theory which may have an effect on class conflict is that of social mobility. This term is used to describe the movement of people between classes and is in relational to the hierarchal structure. An upward movement can be seen as an improvement while a downward shift can be seen as deterioration in class prestige. [...]
[...] As well as Marx's many theories on class and class conflict, a great deal of his work was concerned with history, the development of society and predictions and implications for the future. The basic concept of Marxism is that of historical materialism. In short, Marx argued that societies progress through history by the operation of economic forces, and the motivator of social change is the class conflict between the owners of the means of production and the non owning class. [...]
[...] Instead, a combination of many are likely to have played a part in the suppression of conflict, and it is therefore difficult to pinpoint one factor as being the definitive answer as to why class conflict did not occur. This can also be said to be the same for Marx's views on the history of society. While Marx did put forward a viable account of this history, he was no prophet. His predictions of a socialist society displacing capitalism, was, as yet, unfounded. [...]
[...] These sociologists who do not subscribe to the Marxist view of conflict have all argued that a class struggle within capitalist society has not taken place to the extent at which Marx had anticipated. Marx's two-class theory of capitalist society has come under a great deal of cynicism. This is due to the fact that in other texts, Marx identifies a great deal of other classes that would technically render the ‘neat divisions of the Communist Manifesto inapplicable' (McLellan 1971: 158). [...]
[...] In particular, Marx used the mode of production and forces of production to produce his theory of how he thought history would develop. Marx wrote can designate the Asiatic, ancient, feudal and the modern bourgeois modes of production as many epochs in the process of the economic formation of society' (Marx as cited in Morrison 1995). Marx then began to theorize about the next stage of economic development. Following his theory that class revolution would lead to progression in the economic system of production, Marx argued that for society to develop, the two major classes of the capitalist society would oppose each other in a class struggle, namely the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. [...]
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