Terms of Consensus Or Conflict; is Marxism Still Relevant Today

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 All of society have different opinions and values, many of society would believe that Marxism would be more beneficial and the way forward. Even though this highlights exploitation of lower classes and focuses mainly on self-interest. Functionalism is based on everyone working together, with shared values and a stable society. These will be highlighted in the upcoming essay and provide more details regarding whether society is best understood in terms of consensus theory or conflict (Marxism) theory.

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To start with, functionalism is based on all different parts of society working together. The term working together as a well-oiled machine is used to described functionalism, meaning each part has a role to play for the machine to perform correctly. ‘Durkheim upheld Spencer’s functional idea of separate parts serving a purpose and the notion of society was greater than the sum of its individual elements.’ (Thorpe et al.,2015, P.36). Functionalism is based on all of society having the shared norms and values and the focus is on social order. Some functionalists would believe that without shared beliefs and values, the social order is impossible, this is needed for the well-being of society. They also believe that there are four basic needs that required to exist in society, these are essential for maintaining the social order. These include food, clothing, shelter, and money. Functionalism emphasizes strongly on stability of society and if change is necessary it would need to be done slowly. With the perspective of which functionalism is based upon, being the consensus and order that is used to exist within society. When disorganization happens within the system, such has bad behaviour, this will lead to change happening because society must adjust to achieve the stability again. This brings in the fact of anomie which builds upon Durkheim’s theory that anomie is a social condition in where people’s norm and values no longer sync with this of society. When part of society becomes dysfunctional, so does the rest and this starts to cause social problems within society, prompting social change. ‘From this perspective, disorganization in the system, such as deviant behaviour, leads to change because societal components must adjust to achieve stability. Part of the system is dysfunctional, it affects all other parts and creates social problems, prompting social change.’ (Ashley Crossman, January 2020).

In some aspects of functionalism this is still quite relevant to modern society. Society might have different aspects and will be explained with different views but overall, functionalism still makes its self-relevant within today’s society and keeps society well-balanced. Regarding functionalism still being relevant within modern society, it all depends on the views of every person as everyone has a different opinion on whether this is still relevant. For example, ‘In general, I would say functionalism is quite dead – and there are good reasons for it.’  Whereas others have an opinion of ‘the theory of functionalism is very much alive for example in the education system, where the functions of an institution intended to give a non-confrontational vision. That is, functionalism theory predicts that each is in the rightful place, in this way the conflict is impossible.’ For example, in education the government provide public education to children. The children’s families pay taxes which is used to pay for the education. The children then grow up and become law-abiding and working citizens, who then in turn pay taxes to the government.

Finally, Marxism is based upon seeing all society divided into two classes: The industry-owning Bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The bourgeoisie exploits the labour of the proletariat. Karl Marx’s argued there is always potential for class conflict and the working class will become aware of the exploitation and will overthrow the capitalism and bring around a classless society. ‘The increasing solidarity of the working class, and weakness of the bourgeoisie, will in time allow the proletariat to take over control of the means of production and bring about a classless society.’ Marxism focuses mainly on self-interest and the social change occurs only to suit those in power, it was believed that it was the material conditions of how people lived that determined the organisation of society. Changes within the means of production, like the tools, bring about socioeconomic change. Marxism social order is maintained by the greatest resources, e.g. Political, economic, and social resources. Marxism is still currently being used around the world, around a third live under a government adopting these principles. Not everyone agrees with this theory, how it is used and the idea of society being separate into classes defined by their economic status, or the idea that social change is the inevitable result of class conflict. ‘in 20th Century around a third of the world’s population lived under a government espousing Marxist principles. Not everyone agreed with Marxian division of society into classes defined by economic status, nor the idea social change is inevitable result of class conflict.

Marxism is a conflict theory, which means social order is maintained by domination and power. There can be a lot of weaknesses with Marxism which include it could lead to communism, which is bad as it would not allow anyone to be an individual and is dangerous as society would not be motivated. It can limit opportunities for self-employed as everything would be run through the government and it does not value the concept of private ownerships. Marxism is still relevant today, as exploitation still lies in many corporations, it can be quite bad, and people are being very resilient to it. ‘ Exploitation still lies at the heart of the capitalist system. Capitalist exploitation is so bad in some parts of the world that there is vehement resistance to it.

In conclusion, both theories are still truly relevant today and still have a part to play. For example, within the criminal justice system, from functionalism’s point of view, Durkheim saw crime as normal and a necessary occurrence within society. He thought that crime led to reactions from society and these reactions were used to create common consensus of what people felt were moral norms by which they should obey and they pointed out which rules and laws might need updating. Whereas Marxism supports the elite class and punishes the working class disproportionately and unfairly. Examples like, if you have money and power, more likely to get away with more crimes and get yourself out of it unlike the working class who would have that much money and power to do so. ‘Professional footballers admit drink driving and fleeing crash scene, football club fined the pair “equivalent of six weeks’ wages”.Regarding which works best within society, it can be said both theories have parts that suit and work better in society. However, Marxism best describes today’s society as more conflicts exist than consensus but that is not to say there are not some functional consensus aspects within modern society. Post-modernist would say these such theories are now outdated as we are more globalised and have more a diverse world. 

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