Marx coined this term Commodity Fetishism to refer to the belief people have, since back in tribal societies, that certain objects have natural powers and therefore have a higher value placed on them over other commodities. While people believed that these objects actually have internal powers that reside in the object the true power develops external to the object in social relations.
Our social relations seem to be between the objects one possess and no longer between the individuals who possess them. Commodity fetishism shows how the exchange of commodities shapes social relations between people by how much they own.
Marx narrows the development of capitalism down to the causes of its development, the outcomes of its development, approximating how it effected social relations and the structure of society, and how it compares to other economies throughout history.
Individuals purchase necessities at stores because they lost their right to own the means of production, the market system arose because when the land fell into private hands individuals were forced to sell their labor in exchange for necessities, and individuals pay the high monetary value for certain objects because its believed they possess powers to move them up the social ladder.
Inspired by Darwin, that all species follow an evolutionary pattern and the species able to adapt successfully reproduce to live on, Marx viewed the evolution of the social world rather than the natural. Marx tried to find a historical and economic pattern of development that shapes societies throughout history. Leading to a pattern persisting throughout history of unequal class division as people are forced to produce to satisfy their material needs.
Explaining why this pattern of social inequality exists is key to what Marx referred to as the Materialist Theory of History.
This essay will explain in greater detail the Materialist Theory of History by drawing on three concepts Marx used to discuss the causes of social inequality, referring to laws of historical development and the relations of subordination that arise in productive relations. Social inequality is caused in every epoch by the monopoly of the means of production by one class.
The means of production are anything that is used to produce material needs of food, shelter and clothing. For example, a part-time job is considered a means of production because it provides us with a means of having money to buy food to satisfy our needs. This class that owns the means of production is respectively classed as the owners and the subordinated class is rightfully the non-owners or workers. The owners had control over all aspects of production whereas the workers had obstructed access to the means of production.
Therefore, when the means of production fell into the hands of one class it became privatized and the worker could no longer freely employ the means of production. The worker no longer employed the means of production but the means of production employed the worker. Marx referred to two categories of restrictions, restrictions on entering into the means of production and regulations on how workers may conduct themselves while in the workplace. By setting these restrictions the owners gain advantage and the workers gain a disadvantage because they make it harder for individuals to satisfy their material needs.
Restrictions to entering the workplace included hiring policies, periods without pay while being trained and the requirement of having a higher education. As for restrictions on the worker during the workday, owners maintain their power and governed how workers used the means of production by penalizing the worker for being late or not performing properly.
By cutting wages below the level of subsistence, owners are able to collect more of the money brought in by the production process and leaving only a little to the workers.
As soon as two classes come together class division and social inequality arise because each becomes economically binded and must carry out differing roles in the production process.
Roles are based on their relations with one another and are enter into against their will. The role one partakes in during the production process seems to directly reflect class relationships that occur when only one class consistently owns the means of production. Bosses preside over the production process and oversee the workers while the worker physically labors in the production process.
The separation of these two classes into these roles causes workers and bosses to engage in relationships of inequality and dependency with one another.
Due to these social relations in the workplace, workers have no choice but to follow the authority of their boss in order to survive. Since workers tend to be subordinate to their bosses, they are compelled to labor both for themselves in terms of their own livelihood and for their bosses.
Marx noticed the tendency for this development of social relations in all epochs but each with slightly different intensity; in ancient society such as Rome the slave was treated brutally and had absolutely no freewill or rights when it came to the means of production. Then in the feudal epoch there was a class of landholders who in relation to a class of serfs dominated production.
In the capitalist epoch the social relation was the boss who ruled over the workers. These relations of production in each epoch ensures the consumption of wealth to remain in the hands of the very few.
These relations of production become relations of dominance and subordination that are backed up by political and legal sanctions Morrison, , p.
The relations of production are similar to relations of subordination because productive relations result in one class being subordinated. Relations of subordination refer to the relations that exist between classes when one becomes the owner of the means of production. Dependencies on the dominant class emerge in societies because of the control they have to block people from sustaining a livelihood. Subordination arises for purposes of economic production when the dominant class refuses to use their own labor and the remaining people offer or are forced to use their labor to survive.
The relations of subordination first emerged in the ancient world, a world consisting of slavery, the most extreme case of subordination since slaves had absolutely no control over production or over their labor. Although most apparent in the form of social relations between bosses and workers relations of subordination also exist within family, political and school institutions as long as one group of people have dominance over the other. This concept of subordination, relationships among a dominant and subordinate class, was important to the materialist theory of history as it was the main pattern or law that seemed to arise when societies formed.
The mode of production was another concept that Marx used in his Materialist Theory of History to uncover the pattern showing how people earn their livings through economic production over time.
Mode of production is exactly that, it is how production is put forth. How production takes place is a combination of productive forces, the tools or machinery available to put to work for purpose of producing a livelihood, and social relations. With time, however, new productive forces are invented and with this change, a change in social relations and the mode of production will change too. With the invention of the steam mill, to replace the hand mill, how many workers were needed, where the production would occur and the beginning of social relations based on domination and subordination also evolved.
The mode of production in place in a society determines the way of life of a society because it shapes how much time and money workers will have outside of the workplace. For example, if the society has weak productive forces then it may take longer hours to produce forcing people to come home late and take away from family time. Another major trait of the mode of production is its ability to define the social relations resulting from it. The types of social relations that arise determine how the means of production are put to work or who has dominance.
Therefore since social relations are determined by mode of production, then social inequality, or the idea that one class naturally dominates over a subordinating class, is also a function of the mode of production. A law is something that persists over time and is almost always obeyed. So the division of society into two distinct classes, every time a society forms, seemed to Marx as a law of social and historical development.
This division into separate unequal classes occurs because as a new society develops people must employ the means of production in order to sustain their livelihoods. To provide historical evidence for this, history was divided into three economic epochs; ancient, feudal and capitalist societies.
In each of these historical stages three characteristic similarities proved that the first step is always economic and how engaging in economic acts in every society causes unequal class and labor division. Each stage or epoch has a system of production and division of labor; different forms of property ownership; and a system of class relations that emerge from the ownership over the means of production, giving rise to the productive relationships Morrison, , p.
In the ancient epoch, the system of production was primarily slave labor; a great example is the Graeco-Roman world. Private ownership of property existed and was in the hands of the patrician class.
Therefore, the division of labor involved a dominating class with control over the means of production and a class of slaves forced into brutal labor till their death.
Knowing that production relations reflect class relations it is clear that class relations in ancient society were set in a state of dominance and subordination between the patrician and slave. In this epoch the dominant class seeks to find new land to extend their rule and maintain their economic existence.
In contrast, the feudal epoch was based primarily around agrarian culture. With no city or market people survived off what was produced from the land. Agricultural work was therefore the major system of production. The owners of production were those that owned the land and were sole possessors over the means of production.
The division of production and the division of classes was between a peasant class, who performed necessary physical labor to supply for the landowner in order to have access themselves to produce, and the landowners who had control of the serf and the economic production.
Whereas in ancient society when military powers were used for coercion over the subordinated class, in feudal society legal and political institutions are the source of this coercive power. The final epoch was industrial capitalism, where agricultural mode of production was demolished for a city economy.
The system of production was one of industry and where individuals sell themselves to partake in the means of production. Change in mode of production caused by separation of serf laborers from the land created a division of labor between those who were bosses and workers who were forced to sell their labor to these bosses, referring to themselves as wage-laborers.
Individuals could no longer perform the means of production alone or consume what they produced. In comparison to the other epochs, the means of production in capitalist society become more widely diverse and comprised of machinery and technology which through laws of private property became the monopoly of one class. With the existence of wage laborers bosses are able to remain in power by lowering the wage paid to individuals for their labor below the amount responsible for subsistence.
In this scenario the bosses profit from selling the products and let the workers receive only a small share. Throughout societies the economies change, means of production change, relations of production change and mode of production change. However, although economies differ widely there always remains one group that privately owns the means of production and gains control over another.
This pattern of unequal class division arises as soon as people are forced to sell their labor simply to satisfy their material needs. Formations of modern social thought.
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Capitalists believe that fairness is found in the freedom of competitive pricing, production, and distribution of goods. It is also highlighted by the private ownership of property and decision making.
Socialists believe fairness can only be achieved by the equal distribution of wealth and opportunity through collective means. The government owned and managed production and distribution of goods allows steady work for everyone and a society built on equal lifestyles. Capitalists reward their labor with possibilities of wealth, power and property. Socialists offer social justice through equal opportunity, pay, and care. The workforce for each magnifies this key difference of focus and cause.
No ideal can become reality unless is has been embraced by the group. In the case of Capitalism, the labor force believes that education, hard work, patience and connections can lead to prestige and wealth for everyone. Any negative issues that arise from the combination of human nature and competition are simply a small price to pay for the immense opportunities offered by the system.
Socialism expects just the opposite from its workers. Socialists believe that the natural human need to care for each other is built into the concepts of collective control. They feel that the workers will accept and embrace the loss of control to governmental authority as an exchange for the betterment of society.
For these two methods, the freedom or control of the worker is what makes their policies successful. The level of social care is also defined by these different views. Socialists build every part of their system around the needs of the people.
Socialistic governments have high tax rates, so as to pay for the social programs, such as medical care.
ADVERTISEMENTS: Capitalism: Essay on Capitalism (Market Economy)! Capitalism is ‘a system of economic enterprise based on market exchange’. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Sociology () defines it as ‘a system of wage-labour and commodity production for sale, exchange and profit, rather than for the immediate need of the producers’.
- This essay shall illustrate the point that capitalism is not dead. Capitalism, indeed, has brought on successes, including market failures. A capitalist economy is an economy that allocates resources through the decentralized decisions of many firms and households as .
Capitalism is defined as “an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market” (Merriam. TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction 1 History of Capitalism 2 Features of Capitalism 3 The Workings of Capitalism 4.
Essays on capitalism - Entrust your paper to us and we will do our best for you Cooperate with our writers to receive the quality essay following the requirements Get to know key advice as to how to receive the best term paper ever. Free Essay: Comparisons between countries and regions before and after the advent of capitalism in Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Europe as well as a.