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famous for its characterization of exploitation as

a process of alienation, and the argument that religion,

the family, state, law, morality, and science

are (in their conventional forms) expressions of this

alienation. Humans are enslaved by their own creation,

and communism is seen as the riddle of

history solved. While in Paris, he became a close

friend of Friedrich Engels, whose essay on political

economy greatly impressed him, and they decided

to work together, writing a fierce critique of Bruno

Bauer (and his brothers) in a work entitled The Holy

Family (1845 [trans. 1932]).

In 1845 Marx was deported from France and

went to Brussels, where he (with Engels) wrote

The German Ideology (1845 [trans. 1965]), a work not

published in his lifetime. Before writing this

work, Marx drafted his Theses on Feuerbach (1845

[trans. 1970]) where he argued that Feuerbach

saw abstract theoretical solutions to practical

problems. The famous eleventh thesis refers to

the fact that, whereas the philosophers have interpreted

the world, the point is to change it. The

German Ideology elaborates the criticisms of Feuerbach,

and deals at great length with the latest

manifestations of Young Hegelian idealism, including

Stirner’s anarchist theory of egoism.

Marx explicitly identifies his position as one of

“new materialism,” and the work contains general

arguments for a conception of history, society,

politics, and culture rooted in the relations of

production. While writing this volume, Marx and

Engels established a Communist Corresponding

Committee (the embryo of subsequent Communist

Internationals). One of the socialists he was

anxious to recruit was Pierre Joseph Proudhon

(1809–65), but by 1847 he had written a fierce

critique of Proudhon’s ideas (which he denounced

as abstract and doctrinaire) in The Poverty

of Philosophy.

In November 1847 Marx attended a meeting of

the Communist League’s Central Committee in

London (it had originally been the League of the

Just), and this was the organization that commissioned

The Communist Manifesto (1848 [trans. 1968]).

Although Engels had written some earlier drafts,

the Manifesto in its published form was written

primarily by Marx and is the most famous of

Marx’s works. With extraordinary brevity and

poetic intensity, the work contains a hymn of

praise to capitalism as a dynamic productive

system, and establishes the argument that communism

must arise on the basis of capitalism as a

system that becomes increasingly crisis-ridden as

it progresses. The Manifesto refers to the way in

which more and more sections of society are “proletarianized,”

although in Marx’s more specific

writings (like the political analyses on France)

the uneven nature of this process receives more

stress. The work also contains highly suggestive

comments on the need for communists to organize

as a “party” (although the meaning of this is

far from clear), and it contains a denunciation of

other forms of socialism and a radical ten-point

program, as well as a famous argument that the

liberal (“bourgeois”) revolution in Germany must

be supported, as a prelude to “the immediately

following” proletarian revolution.

Marx, Karl (1818–1883) Marx, Karl (1818–1883)


News of the revolution in Paris reached Brussels

in February 1848. Marx briefly decamped to Paris

but moved to Cologne where he founded the Neue

Rheinische Zeitung which published reports of revolutionary

activity all over Europe. The program of

the paper was a united democratic Germany (democracy

interpreted in a left-liberal fashion) and a

war with tsarist Russia. But the revolutions

were all defeated and the Neue Rheinische Zeitung

closed down. In 1849 Marx settled in Britain. He

was initially convinced that the defeats were only

a temporary setback, and Marx rejoined the Communist

League. In his March circular to the

League, Marx espouses the strategy of “permanent

revolution” – a strategy of continuing an antifeudal

revolution until capital itself is overthrown.

This rather “optimistic” perspective was

continued in the June circular, although Marx was

to warn in 1850 that up to fifty years might have

to pass before a revolution could succeed. After a

split within the League, Marx moved “his” wing of

the Communist League to Cologne and had it

wound up in 1852.

Often depending on the money that Engels

could raise, the Marx family lived in poverty. The

Neue Rheinische Zeitung Revue, produced in 1850,

contained among other things Marx’s analysis of

French political developments. These essays were

subsequently edited by Engels and published in

Germany as The Class Struggles in France (1895

[trans. 1964]) and The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis

Napoleon (1852 [trans. 1934]), often considered his

most brilliant political pamphlet. In these works

Marx showed the importance of producing a concrete

analysis of the nuances of political struggle

and the way in which a ruling bloc of different

class fractions has to be stitched together to make

up state power in a particular instance. After completing

his book on the Communist Cologne Trial,

Marx turned to his economic studies and during

the 1850s he published the first two chapters of

what was to be Capital. Despite decades of mid-

Victorian prosperity passed in Britain, Marx

made an attempt to get to grips with class structure

there in a review he wrote of the pamphlet of

1850 (Pourquoi la re´volution d’Angleterre a-t-elle re´ussi?)

by Franc¸ois Guizot (1787–1874).

Between 1852 and 1862 Marx published – although

in many instances the actual articles

were written by Engels – for the New York Daily

Tribune as their London correspondent. He tackled

the questions of India, the Crimean War, and upheavals

in China. Marx wrote an “Introduction to

the Critique of Political Economy” in 1861. In this

introduction or outline, which was not published

until 1941 as the Grundrisse, he dealt with the

questions of money and capital, with important

asides about, for example, alienation and the division

of labor in a capitalist society. In 1859, he

published A Contribution to the Critique of Political

Economy, which contains the famous “guiding

thread” that outlines what came to be called his

“materialist conception of history.” He identifies

the “Asiatic, ancient, feudal and capitalist modes

of production” so that a mode of production embraces

both the forces and relations of production

of a given system. Critics argue that this analysis

“fits” capitalism far more easily than it does precapitalist

modes of production.

Much of the argument here was rewritten in

Capital, but before his magnum opus could be

tackled, Marx spent eighteen months attacking

Karl Vogt (1817–95) who had been a leader in the

Frankfurt parliament. In November, 1866, Marx

personally took the manuscript of Volume I of

Capital over to his publisher in Germany. The first

section deals with the nature of commodities and

money; the second, the transformation of money

into capital; the third, with the nature of surplus

value. Marx argues that what makes it possible

for commodities to exchange is that they are the

product of labor, but this theory of value is seen

by many commentators (including Marxists) to

be rather archaic and implausible. This was

followed by Marx’s far more readable history of

capitalism and the effect of machinery on the

worker, and culminated in his assessment of

capital accumulation.

The other two volumes of Capital have none of

the polish of the first. Volume III deals with the

relationship of values and prices.

By the 1860s, working-class activity was reviving.

In September 1864, the First International

was formed with Marx as its president. The first

years of the International were taken up with

arguments against the followers of Proudhon,

who were opposed to strikes and political involvement.

One of the affiliates to the First International

was the newly constituted German

Social Democratic Workers Party. Marx supported

the causes of Polish and Irish independence.

After the defeat of France by Prussia, the

Paris Commune was proclaimed. Marx saw this as

a heroic if doomed attempt to storm heaven,

presenting the commune (which was brutally

crushed after seventy-two days in office) in The

Civil War in France as a “working-class government,”

a state ceasing to be a state. However,

after 1870 Marx became increasingly preoccupied

with a struggle against the Russian anarchist,

Marx, Karl (1818–1883) Marx, Karl (1818–1883)


Mikhail Bakunin (1814–76), and the International

was transferred to New York where it died a natural


Capital was translated into Russian in 1872, and

Marx learnt Russian in order to read original

sources. He became familiar with Russian socialists

and declared in the 1882 Preface to the Russian

translation of the Communist Manifesto that a

revolution in Russia could avoid capitalism and

spark a revolution in the West. In 1875 he wrote a

critique of the German socialist party program,

accusing the latter of liberal formulas and abstractions.

But his health continued to deteriorate, and

he died in 1883. JOHN HOF FMAN


Karl Marx famously declared that he was not a

Marxist, and it is arguable that there is an inherent

tension between his ideas and the movements

that arose in his name.

Marx never saw a Marxist movement seize power

during his lifetime. The relationship between

Marx’s theory and the Russian Revolution of 1917

is highly contentious. There is evidence to suggest

that Marx thought that socialist revolutions could

emancipate humanity only if they took place

in developed capitalist countries, and western

Marxists have held to this view, although without

practical results.

Soviet Marxism used Marx’s ideas to establish a

highly authoritarian form of socialism that replicated

itself after World War II in the Communist

Party states of eastern Europe. Chinese Marxism

emphasized the importance of national independence,

the centrality of will-power, and economic

self-sufficiency, and Cuban Marxism arose out of

the unwillingness of the United States to tolerate

radical nationalism. It is certainly true that Marxism

has been much more successful where it has

been able to integrate itself with anti-colonial and

anti-imperialist struggles in the so-called Third

World, but only in South Africa has Marxism expressed

itself through an independent Communist

Party; and even here it is closely integrated into

a movement of national liberation.

Marxism as a political movement has usually

been anti-liberal, except in western Europe where

the ideas of the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci

led to a Marxism that emphasized the importance

of winning popular consent and infusing Marxism

with liberal values. JOHN HOF FMAN

Marxist sociology

Marxism is a theory of society as well as a theory of

economics. In its classical form, Marxist sociology

argues that people enter into social relationships

independent of their will. This does not mean

that they lack agency, but rather that what people

wish to do can never be the same as what they

actually do. This is why a Marxist sociology is

materialist in that it assumes that even though

people act consciously, their consciousness is

not a reliable guide to the course of action they


In order to survive, people must produce goods

and services, and this fact has particular significance

for Marxist sociology. Production is possible

only if people have technology – what are referred

to as the forces of production – and they cooperate

with one another in particular ways – what are

called relations of production. The forces and relations

of production collectively constitute the

basis of society: they have primary significance in

accounting for events.

Marxist sociology assumes that there is always a

tension between the forces and relations of production.

Hence relationships must continually change,

since the technology people employ is itself always

changing. This tension occurs in all societies,

so that it would be wrong to assume that social

development can ever cease.

On the other hand, this tension becomes an

“antagonism” when society is divided into social

classes. Classes arise where those who produce are

not the same people as those who benefit from

production. Classical Marxism assumes that there

is a relationship of exploitation between classes.

This makes it impossible for changes in the forces

of production to be reflected relatively smoothly

in changes in the relations of production, since a

particular class has a vested interest in a given set

of productive relations. In class-divided societies,

the collision between the forces and relations of

production creates the necessity for revolution.

Marx and his supporters are well aware that

production cannot occur on its own. Its organization

requires a culture, a legal and political framework,

a set of values, and a family structure; these

are seen as constituting a “superstructure” not

because they are irrelevant, but because they

cannot be understood on their own terms. Hence

Marxist sociology is not a theory of “economic reductionism”

since this would imply that, whereas

the base molds the superstructure, the superstructure

does not impact on the base.

In class-divided societies, the “superstructure”

works to entrench a particular set of productive

relations, giving the latter religious, political, and

ethical legitimacy. This is why class is political

and cultural as well as economic, even though

Marxism Marxist sociology


the roots of class lie in the way society produces.

While certain elements of the superstructure

(such as religion and the state) are particular to

class-divided societies, others (such as culture, political

and social organization, family structure)

exist in all societies. They are in tension with the

base but this tension can be resolved without

the need for revolution (see theory of revolution),

since no one has an entrenched interest in a

particular set of productive relations.



At a general level masculinity is understood as

the ways of being and becoming a man. As with

many of the key terms in sociology, masculinity

and femininity were developed against the background

of biological definitions that suggest that

these concepts are based in nature. Recently, sociobiological

and evolutionary psychology theorists

have gained increasing popular appeal with their

focus on the power of nature over culture in determining

gender differences between men and

women. Since the mid-1980s, particularly, as a

result of feminist, gay, and lesbian writing, and

AIDS activism, the changing nature of men’s lives

and their experiences have been much debated

within a range of literatures, drawing upon sex

roles, gender identity, psychoanalysis, and gender

and power relations.

Sex-role theory, which developed alongside theories

of socialization, has been highly influential

in the social sciences. Through socialization, sexrole

theorists argue, males and females are conditioned

into appropriate social roles and behavior.

Norms and expectations that are polarized between

the genders are central to the definition

of masculinity. Sex-role theory assumes that these

ahistorical gender essences are quantifiable and

measurable. Consequently, attitude tests can

be used to measure levels of socialization by the

amounts of masculinity that males possess.

Within this perspective, masculinity is subject to

objective measurement through an index of

gender norms. For example, strength, power, and

sexual competence are expected of boys in western

societies. Hence a wide range of individual

men and male groups, such as effeminate boys

and gays, are seen as not having enough masculinity,

which is explained in terms of deficient levels

of testosterone, inadequate role models, or overpowering

mothers. In contrast, black boys and

working-class boys are seen as having too much

masculinity. Second-wave feminism challenged

the conceptual and political implications of

the commonsense view that biology is destiny. In

response, a distinction was made between biologically

based sex (females and males) and culturally

based gender (femininity and masculinity).

Such work opened up masculinity to critical

scrutiny, understanding masculinity as situated

within a structure of gendered hierarchies,

in which particular social practices are used to

reproduce social divisions and inequality.

Earlier theories of patriarchy (male dominance)

used a unitary notion (one style) of masculinity.

Later feminist theorists emphasized that gender

relations are multidimensional and differentially

experienced, and are responded to within specific

historical contexts and social locations. In other

words, differentiated forms of male power can be

explained only by an analysis that takes into consideration

the specific conditions that give rise to

these situations. Sociological perspectives have

been used to explore the social organization of

masculinity and the active cultural production

of masculinities within institutional sites. One of

the most influential theorists, R. W. Connell,

building on feminist analysis, suggests that men

occupying a hegemonic masculinity are asserting

a position of superiority. They do this by winning

the consent of other males and females, in order

to secure their (hegemonic) legitimacy. Men are

able to position other men by way of their subordinated,

complicit, or marginalized relationships.

This suggests a move away from talking about a

single masculinity to that of a plurality of masculinities.

In Masculinities (1995), Connell acknowledges

the social and cultural variations in being

and becoming male. Multiple masculinities is

a term used to convey the diversity of ways of

enacting masculinity, individually and/or collectively.

For example, emerging male gay identities/

subjectivities provide concrete evidence that masculinity

is not something one is born with or an

inherent possession, but rather an active process

of achievement, performance, and enactment.

Furthermore, the development of a wide range of

gay male styles makes clear that the meaning of

the living out of fractured masculinities involves a

diverse range of men’s investments, anxieties, fantasy

identifications, and contradictory emotions.

More recently, poststructuralists and psychoanalysts

have produced texts that address the perceived

limitations of sociology around issues of

the self, subjectivity, the body, and gender and

sexual identity formations. For example, J. Butler’s

contemporary theorizing on gender as performative,

in Gender Trouble (1990), in which she rejects

stable categories, has opened up ways of

masculinity/masculinities masculinity/masculinities


understanding notions of femininity and masculinity.

This emphasis on gender as performative

has problematized the cultural formation of sex

and the interconnections between sex and gender.

For example, it provides a framework within

which to focus on uncoupling masculinity from

male bodies, that is, uncoupling what men do from

what men are. Masculinity and femininity in this

way can be understood as something that cannot

simply be equated with biological sex. The implication

of this is that, at particular historical

moments, female bodies are able to take on and

live out particular masculinities. In particular,

this highlights the inadequacy of contemporary

theories of gender in accommodating female masculinities.

Anthropologists are also critical of the

conceptual development of masculinity in the

context of western academia, which they argue

tends to construct a set of insular concepts and

reified types that inadequately describe gender

relations in other cultures. This cross-cultural analysis

illustrates the limitations of generalizing

about what it means to be a man from a western

model of masculinity. Work on masculinities has

tended to concentrate on the localized production

of men’s meanings and experiences. However,

recent anthropological studies suggest the need to

understand masculinities within a broader social

and cultural framework that includes such issues

as international politics, intranational economic

relations, and globalized desires.

Presently, across western societies, the main

representation of men and masculinity is that

of crisis. For example, masculinity is intimately

linked to wider social and cultural transformations

within the British nation-state, and the

assumed crisis of masculinity can be read as an

effect of the wider crisis of late modernity. It is

suggested that socio-cultural change is marked

by the disintegration of older social collectivities

– such as social class – and increased fluidity of

social relationships, with an accompanying interest

in identity and subjectivity. This is part of a

more general trend whereby the ascendant social

category in established binaries (for example,

men, heterosexuals, and whites) are becoming

the new objects of critical appraisal.


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