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Individual And The Social Structure Essay

4020 words - 17 pages

This paper would discuss and evaluate the social structure theory of Karl Marx and the role of individual in this connection. One objective of this paper is to illustrate how the Marxian conception of social structure underlies even the new work that goes beyond Marx. A second objective is to demonstrate how a more complex image of social structure can be built up by viewing any specific social structural arrangement as a conjuncture of multiple modes of domination. As far as the question of any problem in its explanation is concerned, there are various explanations of this theory but apparently, no clashing viewpoint is found in this theory. A perhaps simplistic way of viewing such a ...view middle of the document...

One of my major objectives was to show how such narratives can coherently combine elements of both agency and structure.The Marxian conception of social structure is fundamentally different from the Durkheimian conception. According to the Marxian conception, social structure consists of a nexus of relationships among social classes. Social classes are categories of individuals who are similarly situated vis-à-vis the means of satisfying basic human interests -- that is, the means of production. Whereas the relationships connecting social classes are of many different types, the definitive relationships are relations of production.The relationships among all these categories of individuals structure the interests that the individuals of each category pursue, the opportunities and powers for satisfying those interests, and the predicaments that the individuals of each category face. These structured interests, opportunities, powers, and predicaments are part of what is meant by social structure on the Marxian view. They form an integrated set of conditions in terms of which the behaviour of individuals can be analyzed. For example, as a function of their attempts to maximize profit and to maintain a competitive edge in relation to other capitalists, industrial capitalists are interested in reducing the wages paid to labour and in minimizing the costs allocated to the maintenance of suitable working conditions. For them the existence of a proletarian underclass willing to work for less pay and under poorer working conditions constitutes an opportunity. For the better-paid workers the existence of such an underclass represents a predicament. Likewise, any power the better-paid worker can exert to exclude the underclass from the labour market constitutes a predicament for the underclass. On the other hand, the capitalist class faces its own unique set of predicaments -- the increasing severity of the competitive process, the falling rate of profit, the saturation of the market, and so on.The powers and resources wielded by the different classes and class fractions for achieving the satisfaction of their interests are also socially structured. When it comes to an open struggle between the capitalist and the proletariat as in a strike, the capitalist suffers only in his capital whereas the proletariat suffers in his livelihood (Marx, 1963, 61-120). Thus the members of the capitalist class are immediately more powerfully situated. Beyond that, different class fractions within both the capitalist and proletarian classes exhibit different degrees of socially structured power. Big capital, for example, overwhelmingly commands the money and resources to ensure that political policies favour its interests even at the expense of other capitalist class fractions -- for example, medium and petty capital. Among the proletariat the better-paid workers are generally more organized and more articulate than the members of the underclass and consequently...

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