SO320: Theory Basics; Marx: German Ideology, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts

SO320: Theory Basics; Marx: German Ideology, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts



hey all right welcome everybody kind of trying to do this as a search 3:20 class to give you a bit of a grounding in sociological theory bear with me as I kind of get used to the software which I've never used before Wirecast live-streaming but what I hope is that you can chat here if anybody is able to join me so you can go down here and I'll say in the chat window there and if you'd have any questions as they go along please do not hesitate to let me know what they are so if you will recall from the last time that we were together I was talking a little bit just about the sort of the generalities of sociological theory and how we might classify different sociological theories and trying to put them along these two different axes axes um and again it's not you don't have to fetishize these or the way that they do it in the book and I may even reverse it on the board just now I'm not working from from notes right now too much I'm just working mostly off the top of my head but what you'll see here is that we have at least two ways to it's a group or to organize sociological theories one way being along dimensioned of how they theorize the social order and that is whether they view the social order and necessarily being a collective or whether they view it as what we would call a concatenation of individuals another way that we put is the society exists as an entity Sooey generis in the first instance is society a big thing that sort of pre-exists individuals exists after them exists before any individual comes into the scene into society or is society constantly sort of rebuilt renewed every day in just sort of interactions between individuals the the sort of the popular version or a popular version of this was rendered by Prime Minister of England Margaret Thatcher said at one point well there's no such thing as society and of course most sociologists don't believe that but they do rather believe that there is such a thing as society in that it's collected there so again and I may be sort of reversing the ordering in the textbook but again really matter the question here is does a particular theory understand society as a collective or doesn't look at society as a grouping of individuals and another way to sort of group theory is but can you see them yet even more let's see this is to consider whether we understand sociological or social action as a rational this is actually is it's rational or now the second term in this is always a little bit more nebulous of what we could say non rational or irrational depending on who's who's talking about it and when we say rational we mean does this appeal to a means and calculus or are we appealing to some hires this is appealing to some higher value when we make decisions so what this is to say it may be better to sort of think about sort of a concrete example in mind and of course maybe not of course and by the way you could look at the same action even the same group of people through the same things using these different understandings so one version of this or one example of this could be altruism so we could look at altruism like giving if viewed in an as a non rational action we could say that giving alms is about sort of doing an action that is valued by your community because it's something that your community has always done now if you're Catholic and you practice tithing and then giving alms as part of your tithing we're doing it because you're appealing to some higher value not because you specifically are hoping to sort of add up chips to get a better chance at going to heaven no you're just doing it because that's the right thing to do so that would be a non rational version of this way of understanding giving alms a rational understanding of giving alms is sort of alms as calculated for warm fuzzy feelings now again you might you might step back and say well but aren't the origins of warm fuzzy feelings themselves non-rational and I would say get probably true funny this is Brackett that for a second though one way to view giving alms is that you're you're making it cost-benefit analysis essentially like this is the kind of calculus that underlies what we call rational activity so you got you got five dollars and you have a choice of things to do with those five dollars you could buy a buy a slice of pizza you could order a video on Netflix I don't know whatever it is you want to do with five dollars you could do and you'd get some quantity of happiness out of that on the other hand you give that five dollars to a homeless person or you send five dollars to the American Red Cross and that gives you a warm fuzzy feeling inside and if that warm fuzzy feeling is worth more than whatever you could have done other ones with the five dollars then we say that is a rational action and the question is depending on the different sociological theories that you'll see five differences watch the few that really do look at the world in these ways you know it will determine whether that that theory or that theorist is looking at action as being rational versus non rational so again this is sort of a very general schematic that outlines how we can think about different sociological theories your wrists I'm not gonna I'm not going to try to throw examples actually too much right at the moment but we will work as we talk about different sociological theorists to see where do they fit and in fact we'll find sometimes in a for example Weber is kind of really a good example of somebody who who operates in different places who's who understands different societies or different groups over time on different places as having different motivations so Weber I couldn't very much you know sort of look at at pre-modern Europe as a place that was obsessed with sort of non rational motivations behind actions and then modern Europe as being someplace that was a society in which people were highly motivated by a by rational thinking by making rational thanks so that's the again the two key ways of discussing sociological theories that text exposes you to and that you will find in different forms in different theories and I think I said before it's a good accounting technique it's a good way to kind of think about one group of theories versus another gonna understand what sets them apart from one another a couple of other things I'm gonna want you to bear in mind as you as you look at different sociological theories compare and contrast those and logical theories try to understand the differences between them one he mention here is let's see how much okay so structure versus engines and this is this is a really interesting structure versus a there's really interesting debates within the social sciences in general within sociological theory in specific the question here really is and it's related I think both to the question of the social order and to the question of action the question is essentially whether people's actions are determined by the social structure so we'd say social structure sort of has determinant or whether they're able to exercise what we call agency and here I think I mentioned on the first day right we're gonna we're gonna use a lot of concepts in this class that you've heard in in different contexts that mean something totally different right so agency you've heard in the context of like an insurance agency or something like that or the Central Intelligence Agency and you think about agents in that sense and similar but different than what sociologists are getting at with this term so when sociologists saved agency or will use the term agent what we basically mean is free will are you able to make decisions on your own do you have any true freedom in making the choices that you made in life and so the example now if we were in a classroom where you were in front of me physically let me check you see that in the chat we know if anybody's been able to find this yet and hey Lex you made it good okay cool so agency is how much power we have over our role in society yeah that's pretty good pretty good way to put it power over your role in society or even really to to more mundane dimensions of everyday life so it's like you know do you want a bagel for breakfast or do you want cat and crunch and some really extreme versions of sociological theory would say that your choice of Captain Crunch is not really a freely made choice but is determined by the sort of capitalist agro industrial complex the media complex that shows you Captain Crunch actually I can't remember the last time I saw Captain Crunch commercial but you know as I recall he was you know a very inspiring pirate you know by by having those images by pushing them into your brain though you think you freely chose to have Captain Crunch because it's tastier than the bagel whatever it is you actually chose Captain Crunch because society to then that would be the best choice for you on this morning that's a very mundane example to want to usually give in a classroom situation is is going to college and you think like oh you've got to make a choice of going to college but really did you did you really decide to go to college you know or is it is it really determined for you because of the kind of social class that you exist in within society or because the opportunity structure that exists within the society that determines an alternative options are not maybe so great for you and even you know is the choice of Eckerd College versus FSU or something a more or less determinant choice based upon various aspects of your your social background and what we will find again is that this is something in you where in certain situations you'll see sociologists who really see everything is very highly structured I would say the Marxists tend to fall in in that camp versus theorists who really couldn't emphasis on names you put an emphasis on individual decision making so again we'll look at these in much more specific detail but I would say Marxist emphasize structure for example and what we call rational choice theory and that is represented by people like Hallman's will regret flip when I look at the correction I don't know at the 30 end of the forest see there over there or over there depending on how you think of the course right now we'll look at this graphical choice theory which puts a lot more emphasis upon individual agency upon individuals making choices for themselves based on a pretty complete set of information and not being determined for them by the social structure and just one more note here then we will we will not see too much of this in in the scope of this particular course because I haven't found so it really it's really about like me not finding great writing on this yet that I think I should be exposing you to but I want you to to have a sense of it and if you're interested come see me send me a message at some point and I'll turn you on to see some readings in this direction we are increasingly sociologists playing a little bit more nicely with I don't want to say psychologists some psychologists but really cognitive biology and one way of thinking about structure there's certainly the big the big ass social structure but there is a little s structure here as well that is within the individual inside your brains and there's a lot of debate going on right now in sociology as to how much that brain structure really constricts the kind of decisions that you could make there's very little I would say in the way of settled science on these questions but it is something that's incredibly intriguing to sociologists at this point and that you that's it's not going away anytime soon you know we're going to continue to confront this question of how much we are constrained by our brain structure by our brain chemistry and appears that you know certain decisions you know even just at the at the most mundane level this idea of gaining pleasure from things we know there are pleasure centers in the brain we know that there are a couple of chemicals dough and the other chemical I can't remember that make you happy there is definitely brain chemistry underlying actions the question is how much brain chemistry determines our actions and the sort of the next step beyond that and will see something like a version of this when we talk a bit more about culture is how much culture really sheeps the brain so yes we can have these structures within the brain that respond to certain stimuli in certain ways with it then that kind of push us to seek satisfaction for various appetites but sociology is really here to say what is counting and satisfying those appetites is a social thing I think we're gonna still hold on to that for a long time let me just check this here okay yes mind control legs yes pretty much and okay so I did want to as well get started with talking about Karl Marx and I think the way to do that is is really just to trace some of these key concepts in Marx so well I'll start with here is historical materialism and this is really again this is out of all the concepts in sociological theory at least in my experience of teaching this course the one where the popular definition gets mixed up with the sociological definition so materialism and specifically I guess I kind of put it put the historical in parentheses materialism as the sort of main part of the concept here when we talk about materialism with respect to Marx we are not I mean not exactly they're not exactly not but we certainly aren't are that's a hard way to put it anyway we're not saying the people merely love stuff there is something like that in Marx we'll get to called commodity commodity fetishism but really materialism is a way of looking at societies so when we talk about materialism in Marx this goes to what has often been called the base superstructure model of society and this is by the way you're going to be sort of overwhelmed with metaphors throughout the course so hold on to your hats and try to try to keep your metaphors straight and I'll try not to mix my metaphors okay so here we have the base we're going to think of it as the foundation and here we have the superstructure the metaphor here being one of building construction so the base is like the foundation the superstructure is like the house or the office building and what Marx is saying this is historical materialism we sing that the base is economics or we call it different things in different places in the reading but if you if you go back to that first reading on the German ideology he makes it pretty clear he's like no this is like real life conditions doing stuff making stuff bleeding and working and breathing and eating and all your sort of well it doesn't want to just say animal life but the stuff is really close to that where you're actually engaging your body in work and you're engaging and actually making changes to the world that is the base of society that's what determines change that's what determines how the world is experienced and all the rest of society is a superstructure built on top of that so within that superstructure is what he calls civil society by which I generally lead politics as well as that made see word that we use in many ways the culture by which again we could understand things like religion language arts really anything meaningful and in the German ideology Marx makes this statement where does he make this statement so yeah I have it I gotta have it in front of me but it's something somewhere around page 42 he says that you know where as the German philosophers descend from heaven to the earth materialism ascends from earth to heaven and what he means by that is you know is just this this base superstructure model that economics and that real life conditions are the basis of all this where he's saying that the German ideologists descend from heaven to the earth he's really saying that you know you have these sort of high well yeah well you'll use the word highfalutin a few times these highfalutin ideas these ideas of religion in particular right you guys probably know away from you from reading your manifesto in freshman year I don't say again oh people people I guess that was today's meaning as well if you're keeping note right so when religion says something like or thou shalt nots but covet thy neighbor's wife remember this Ten Commandments Moses okay shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife if you're just sending from heaven to the earth you think that these are just transcendent statements from the heavens that order how people conduct their lives or even you know I like to talk about how Howard Zinn who is a Marxist historian likes to look at the history of the United States right himself and again I don't I don't want to oversell this this stuff that you know I'm saying this is this is how Marxist think about the world not necessarily saying this is how the world is ok so just keep that caveat there because I want you to you know I do want you to have the freedom to to question all this stuff but right now let's just try to get the marks or the Marxists like Howard Zinn is a Marxist right and and what Howard Zinn would point to it and it marks the self point to this robe is well saying things like in the American time the American Revolution right we had all these statements like all men are created equal they all men which was you know a revolutionary concept at the time because back in days compared to the king the king was obviously not created very equal to everybody else you know he clipped his nails he smelled okay he had a huge palace horses etc clearly he had some divinity about him right well the Lucien Aries come along and they say oh no all the men or Moses goes up on the mountain he gets these big rocks sorry I always think of you remember Mel Brooks of course you don't remember Mel Brooks but I'll just rant for a minute in the history of the world Mel Brooks goes up as Moses onto the mountain and he comes and he's got 15 commandments that he comes down from the mountains with these Commandments from God and he drops one of the tablets and he's like I have these 15 oops these Ten Commandments which actually this kind of fits well with marks because Marx is saying this is sort of it an arbitrary thing these aren't really from God these are really from the material conditions in which men live right why is it bad to kill people it's I mean there is nothing I don't want to know that makes me sound bad we could from Marxist point of view we might say there's nothing objectively bad about killing people except economics does not work very well if you kill people right your community is a valued asset and if you start killing people off who live in your town right when it comes to like sheep farming or whatever was going on back there in in the early mosaic era you know the the way of life would not have been very sustainable if there was not some philosophy propping things up to say don't kill people Marx is saying that really comes out of the real life conditions we really need a lot of people around to do farming's but we come up with this statement like you to sort of remind everybody about them to keep the economic situation flowing nicely thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife because you know questions of lineage become very important you know if even if you go back and read your Old Testament you'll see there's so much talk about like the number of sheep and goats and whatever Old Testament dudes had on their farms and they passed it on to their sons and there's all these stories about how you know how those decisions well you know your kid was in the first place you're talking big messes right really play in help with the economic conditions so yeah don't go coveting thy neighbor's wife make sure we know who the lineage all the kids are and so on and so forth and fast forwarding a good two thousand five hundred three thousand years you come to the merchant class of the American colonies living under the mercantile system right and these guys are now accumulating quite a bit of wealth for themselves you know guys like Oh Franklin you know who sort of got himself a little printing Empire going on guys like Jefferson you know running a big plantation in Monticello Washington running them Vernon Paul Revere being a silversmith you know think of all the important men of the American Revolutionary era and what you quit we come to realize is that they're all members of if not the merchant class then of the class of wealthy southern random owners and it's very much in their economic interests to now say you know what all men are created equal we are not going to continue to pay taxes to this king over there in England we're going to say bill all men are created equal and that will prop up the capitalist economic conditions that they wish to see dominating in the colonies okay let me take a moment here and okay go to the next the next big concept so let me check the chat screen for a second and it's still you legs um so so the mode of production this optical go too deeply into this today it's actually quite closely related to this base superstructure idea but it also is sort of another way into historical materialism and he traces this in a couple of your readings probably most pointedly in the German ideology so he says that the mode of production consists in the means of production as well as the social relations of production and that entire history that he gives in the German ideology gives it again in the manifesto he gives it in the several number of his 18 well up la you know he says you know if you're gonna look at history and he knows he's oversimplifying but he says you're gonna look at history it should be looked at in a good materialistic frame as a progression through different modes of production so if we look at just again to take two take a couple if we look at the feudal era so the feudal mode of production consists of production by artisans so this these would be artisans in the city you like blacksmiths and silversmiths and cabinet makers and so on and so forth and these social relations of production are organized in gills with apprentices and masters and the journey met all right just going back and reading this recently it's like and he really he really sees the the the state of being a journeyman is almost a state of being enslaved to the the system of feudalism but that's really how he understands that particular historical epoch uses no to get things made they were made through artisanal production how does know if you can recall like your there's a bit of talk about like the Florentine guilds during professor Skinner's art lectures earlier in your education here in freshman year he likes to talk about Renaissance Florence and you know much of the city during the Renaissance was based upon these artisanal relations of production you can actually see on these doors in Florence illustrations of you know like I said the blacksmith's are the silversmiths or the Cooper's or the ox handlers or whoever they are have their own sort of occupations enshrined on this door that's where all the big money for projects was coming in in the the Quattrocento in the gene contento in Italy you know that was the economic relation of production because that was how production was happening that was the means of production and the social relations were relations between the master craftsmen and their apprentices and their journeyman who were really you know sort of held and I don't see Tim's wood held in much lower position because they did not yet have a sort of a master of workshops of their own that's just one of these modes of production when it comes to flourished in the European Renaissance and fast forwarding if we look at capitalism the means of production lie in the factory and I'm kind of fest forwarding here a little bit but bear with me the social relations of production increasingly and again you know we have to sort of consider that Marx is on a certain level oversimplifying to make this stuff understandable it's not the heat didn't himself understand that there's a lot of complexities going on in any of these societies obviously during the Renaissance there's much more than just artistic production going on he's well aware that during capitalist production is much more the factory production going on but that is sort of the emblematic production that is occurring in society and increasingly in statistics you know they're they're south of admah the social the social relations of production were being reduced to relations between equals huazhi and the pollen tears and these will be some other key terms for you right so don't already have bushwa C and proletariat these are keys understanding what Marx is talking about the bourgeoisie very simply put are the owners they own the means of production they owned the factories they own the trains that move things from one place to another the proletariat are simply the workers so again with the owners own our factories the raw materials and here you know we're talking about specifically or particularly mid 19th century England so you can think about the stuff that they're making are things like textiles or steam locomotives or industrial quantities of food and beer and that sort of thing so the owners of the factory the raw materials the workers the workers oh nothing workers are nothing but believers they own basically nothing but the the shirts on their backs and the muscles in their arms and legs and they're entirely dependent upon the bourgeoisie because without the bush was e they have no access to their means of subsistence so they get paid by the bourgeoisie simply to reproduce their labor power now pause for a moment and pull up another set of notes here so I know what the next set of key terms for you show being so turning to the economic and philosophical manuscripts ah this is good stuff okay so when we get to the economic and philosophical manuscripts we we're continuing our focus now on the proletariat in particular but when he turns to the question of alienation Marx really wants us to understand everybody is alienated so you'll see it and it's really just an issue of translation you'll see it in a couple of different ways you'll see it either called estrangement or alienation and in the productive process in capitalism Marx theorizes that there are these several different ways in which we are alienated so first and foremost we're alienated from the product of our labor maybe that's not a foremost its first I don't think it's farmers really a from the product of our labor which which really means and I wish you were all here like this is something I like to I like to talk about this stuff in more concrete terms I guess this you know this this in and of itself is alienating right so here's here's my labor right is talking and trying to turn mines on two important concepts when it's working right I can see people understanding things and you can actually you know see the learning Marx would be much more interested in a sort of very concrete example like cabinet making you know so if you build a table or something like that you know what an artisan does that he can sort of see himself in the product of his Labor's you can sort of take it in his hand and saying oh you know this is where you know I decided to use this kind of joint or this kind of wood and you know I know that this particular piece of furniture is something that I made right I can recognize the product of my labor and fundamentally this is sudden mitten in any line of work we theoretically could do it deserves see our own personal stamp in the product of our labor but in capitalism you really can't it's especially especially engendered by extreme division so really practically speaking there's almost nobody who calls themselves like a cabinet maker anymore there is a handful of go off on the woodworking example because it's it's one near and dear to my heart we could take you know any numbers of different kinds of production and apply the same thing specialization yes that does reach gonna turn our whiteboard okay but so strictly speaking today barely anybody almost nobody calls themselves a cabinet maker they work in a cabinet making factory at best they work at a cabinet shop and they do one little bit of the job and it's like oh I'm the guy who like puts the glue on the arms of the chairs I'm the I'm the guy who like takes the piece of wood and sticks it into the shaping machine to make the legs you know you're gonna really see the legs at the product of their own labor because some machine does that they serve they don't see that table as the product of their labor because you know the only work done in the mutational part of that table that is not their table they do not see that as the product later so they're alienated from it they see it as literally something alien from themselves they are alienated from the labor process and concomitant Li from themselves this gets into a little bit of a sort of a quiz I'm metaphysical reflection on things where Marx is saying here essentially that you know your your labor processes should be more than a means to an end you should be doing things that you really know are helping you to grow as a human being but really you know if you are and I think you know if any of you have worked jobs where you just absolutely turn your mind off you know if you're working as a fry cook if you're working as a you know well you know in the service industry if you work as a hostess you know you make yourself someone other than who you really are in that moment and you sort of turn your real self off or you have an almost out-of-body experience you know if they're working on a production line for eight hours you're really thinking you're not really present in the process of like putting plastic widgets next to each other you're somewhere else you're not really being yourself and mark to say that that's an alienation that's an alienation from yourself you're making yourself alien to yourself you're alienated from what he calls the species being and this is again a sort of almost metaphysical concept that Marx is dealing with he's saying that as a species human beings are supposed to produce for the species you know we don't we don't just make things for ourselves but we make things and we go out into the woods and hunt in groups for the Advancement of the community that kind of a thing toward the advancement of human beings as a species but he's saying and again especially with the division of labor we lose that we lose this sense that we're all in this together they were all working for each other or really you know for the species as a whole and then that is especially obvious in the degree of competition that we have between the workers in even just a factory right you can see that they are not working for each other but really each for themselves and that then goes to the fourth and final form of alienation and that is the allegation from so not only are we eliminated from ourselves not only are we iliyan ated from the the stuff that we're working on we are alienated from the guy next to you on the line just think of almost any workplace you've ever been in yes maybe some of those people are your friend friends but also at the same time they're in competition with you know an awful thing that you'll find at work and I'm sure many of you have found at work is that some of those people who you think are your friends aren't your friends or you know when it comes down to it in the working situation you know somebody who you thought would have your back does not have your back and Marx is saying you know that's not necessarily really you know if we go back to the structure agency thing this is not a really a rational decision well or maybe it is a rational decision in the sense that they might stab you in the back right then you know if you're a busboy and the the waitress doesn't tip out to you adequately you might feel like you're getting stabbed in the back margin see that's just this is an outcome of the system the system is forcing these employees to each work for no one but themselves and this is finally you know the way I've described this all makes it sound like it is especially problematic or maybe only relevant to the proletarians the workers in the factory but they're really marks one wants us to see that this is problematic for everyone in society this is problematic as much for the capitalist as for the the workers and those capitalists themselves you know face extreme sort of deprivation zuv fellow human spirit which they might be granted in and we'll talk about this next time they sort of the communist utopia that Marx hopes for people okay so I am going to leave it at that today I hope it was yeah exactly who's and personality in our work I hope I'm not making you too depressed here I hope when my hope is is to run a lecture on their normally scheduled time on Friday at nine third D and so keep up with the keeping it real and the discussion questions and yeah we'll be back in a real classroom on Monday so thank you thank you Lex for turning out and anybody who's watching this is a recording thank you for doing so you can leave me feedback and tell me what whether this is worthwhile or what what I can do to improve so thank you and have a good trip back home deck

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