States Consciousness Essay Questions
Thus, Marx and Engels thought that an awareness of the increasingly exploitative nature of capitalism would make class consciousness inevitable and that it would help workers around the world to overthrow the bourgeoisie.
Marxists express concern about the lack of class consciousness among workers, particularly in the most developed nations, where Marx predicted that communist revolution would occur first.
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Although Marx never actually used the term class consciousness, he distinguished between “class in itself,” where workers merely have a common relation to the means of production, and “class for itself,” where they organize to pursue common class interests.Despite these conceptual advances, class consciousness is considered difficult to study: It is hard to measure using common survey methods, and it is always changing because classes themselves are always in flux as people interact with one another.Class consciousness may change as people learn about their positions in society, about the status of others, and about social stratification in general.For example, waiters employed in a five-star hotel may associate and identify with their wealthy customers and fail to recognize that their interests are more aligned with the interests of the hotel’s kitchen workers, security and maintenance staff, housekeepers, or other people who make a similarly low wage.This would make waiters less likely to see themselves as working class, to recognize that their wealthy customers and the owners of the hotel mistreat them, to participate in efforts to organize for better pay or working conditions in the hotel, and to support social policies that challenge inequality in society.In contrast, waiters with a class consciousness, who recognize other hotel workers as fellow members of the working class and have interests opposed to those of wealthy customers and owners, would be more likely to work together to demand change.He identified four different elements of working-class consciousness: class identity, one’s self-definition as part of a working class; class opposition, the perception that the capitalist class is an enemy; class totality, the acceptance of identity and opposition as the defining characteristics of one’s social world; and having a vision of an alternative society without class.These elements help us to contrast class consciousness in different settings.For instance, Mann compared the working class in Western economies and said that workers in Britain were likely to see themselves as members of the working class, but they were not likely to envision a classless society or work toward worker revolution.The Communist Manifesto states that because the dominant classes control major social institutions like education and religion, they can shape cultural norms and values so that members of the proletariat will blame themselves for their misfortunes.An individual who blames him-or herself will fail to recognize that others have the same problems and will fail to see a collective solution for them.