Potential Ideas for Section Essay
Underlying Marx’s critique of the capitalist mode of production, we find some assumptions (some of which are explicit- think “species-being”) about human nature. After reading through his work, do you agree or disagree with his depiction of a “human”? Is alienation possible and if so, is it a universal experience? Why or why not?
Marx’s ideas have experienced a bit of a renaissance after the end of the Cold War, especially in the context of the global economic crisis (see this article here) . There have been an explosion in publications with titles like “Why Marx was Right”, which attempt to view our current economic problems through the lenses od Marx’s critique. After reading some of his work, do you think Marx’s ideas and theories are still relevant today?
Marx argued that the ideas of the ruling class are the ideas of society, a notion that potentially runs against Durkheim’s notion of “collective consciousness.” Which perspective do you think is more valuable for explaining dominant beliefs? Are the two perspectives compatible? Why or why not?
Bourdieu’s distinctions between different types of capital highlight the ways in which we often view our lives in economic terms, but are also frequently limited by that view. Which perspective do you find the most compelling or powerful: that of the economic view, or that of the social? What role has social and cultural capital played in your life? Is it something you’ve considered in the past? Do you find that Bourdieu’s explanation provides insight into your own personal experiences? Why or why not?
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