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Marxist Economic Sociology

Marxist sociologists hope to advance the normative agenda of the Marxist tradition. This means anchoring analysis through a Marxist perspective in the problems of “the social,” and taking the “social” in “socialism” seriously.(1) These particular sociologists hope to see socialism as a project of empowering a civil society to demand social accountability on both state and economy.(1)

Sociological Marxists want to understand the obstacles to and possibilities for the transformation of capitalism. While capitalism can enhance the potential for generalized human flourishing, it also blocks the full realization of the potential.(1)

There are four basic ways to discuss Marxism as a social theory:(1)

1) Propagating Marxism

Those who propagate Marxism argue that it is actually a comprehensive worldview for understanding the social world. Marxism as an ideology provides the theoretical weapons needed to explore capitalism and the vision needed to mobilize the masses for struggle. The central task of Marxist intellectuals is to articulate the core of Marxism to increase its influence.

2) Burying Marxism

Those who bury Marxism argue that the concepts have no ideas of relevance for serious social change or study. The durability of Marxism is entirely due to its tendency to mobilize those linked to political parties, social movements, and states, not the credibility of its arguments.

3) Using Marxism

Those who use Marxism argue that it has interesting and suggestive ideas and that some remain useful for contemporary social scientific inquiry. Some ideas are deeply flawed, others have lost relevance but some are still useful and should be preserved. In their eyes, one does not have to be a “Marxist” to use Marxism in this way.

4) Building Marxism

Those who build Marxism believe that it is a powerful tradition of social theory of vital importance to empirically understand the dilemmas and possibilities of social change in contemporary society. On that note, if Marxism aspires to be a social scientific theory it must be continually subjected to challenge and innovation. Those who build Marxism might argue that it is not a doctrine, but also not just a catalogue of interesting insights.