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Karl Marx Contribution To Sociological Theory

In today’s living, people have engaged themselves in the ownership as well as the control of means of production by employing workers to produce goods and services (Ritzer & Stepnisky, 2014). This is actually the main source of income that many people rely on to cater to their needs. Therefore,e capitalism exists in all countries of the world as it has improved people’s living standards. This essay is aimed at critically analyzing Karl Marx’s contribution to the sociology theory of capitalistic society. It also focuses on alienation and human potential as well as the labor theory of exploitation and value, ideology, and false consciousness.

Karl Marx’s contribution to sociological theory

Through Karl Marx’s sociology theory on capitalism, we are able to consider many nations of the world that operate under a system of economic and political standards. According to Karl Marx, social class dictated one’s social life (Giddens, 1971). His major and crucial contribution to sociology was the material concept of history. He argued that people’s experiences are shaped by their environment and that their actions, as well as their behaviors, are determined by the condition and the way they react to the conditions they are dealing with. Therefore, what they do shows the true picture of their environment and the world they see around them (Ritzer & Stepnisky, 2017). Their way of interacting with the social environment and natural world is basically through the process of labor, which Marc called Metabolism and the way labor is organized in society. Social classes are brought about by the division of labor as people have different positions of employment (Giddens, 1971). Karl Marx, as a classical thinker in sociology, has come up with different areas of sociology, such as political sociology, economic sociology, methodology, sociological theories as well and sociological thoughts (Giddens, 1971). Karl Marx’s thoughts changed society from classless to classes where people have different social classes. This was a result of a change in modes of production (Giddens, 1971).

According to Karl Marx, surplus production used to contribute to the creation of profits and benefits through marketing, but now it creates different social classes where people have different standards of living. This has created a society where we have low-class and high-class people. He also argued that materials bring change to humans as well as society. He also brought about the impact of industrialization, which has contributed to change in society (Ritzer & Stepnisky, 2014). Though Karl had no idea about the emergence of the middle social class in society and the cooperative movement, he has also contributed much as far as change in society is concerned. Through Karl’s sociology theory, we can see and compare the power of capitalism during the time of the Industrial Revolution and how it operates today. We also see the owners of means of production dominating and ruling over the workers. This also is happening in today’s economy.

Capitalistic society

According to Karl Marx, the capitalistic mode of production involved organizing as well as production and distribution within capitalist societies. The capitalistic mode of production involves private ownership of the production means, surplus value extraction by the owners of production with the aim of capital accumulation, and wage labor as far as commodities are concerned. The owners of production means the central class obtains their income from surplus production by workers. Therefore, a large population usually depends on the wage-labor. Capitalist society exists, especially in a society with differing political systems and different social structures, such as tribalism (Ritzer & Stepnisky, 2014). According to Marx, capital existed for centuries a small scale in form of renting, Merchant, and lending activities. For the capitalist mode of production to be able to dominate, the production process of society, as well as the different economic, social, political, and cultural circumstances, came together. The owners of production dominated the workers, where capital goods and consumer goods were mainly produced for sale (Ritzer & Stepnisky, 2014).

Human potential and alienation

It focuses on the individual’s experience of feeling powerless when they don’t understand their own potential, causing false consciousness. His theory depends on his dielectric and totality of overturned relationship to the natural environment and to other persons in society (Ritzer & Stepnisky, 2014). This is geared to the need for material needs, and it is during this age that matters of labor and class become the backbone of his theory.

The capitalist does not only own the production means but also all the items produced. Due to their production property ownership, they get an income from their shops and factories (Pines, 1997). The owning class possesses productive resources, though they do not run the production means. Macx vied the commodity as the primary form of modern wealth.

The labor theory of value and exploitation

This involves unfair treatment of one labor for one’s own selfish gain in a relationship between workers and employers. This is contributed to by the inferiority of the laborers in relation to their employers (Garfinkel & Rawls, 2015). Marx’s theory completely rejects the moral connection characteristics of the notion of exploitation and confines the idea to the field of labor relations. The owners of production are in complete control of revenue and wages attached to labor. The exploited do not even receive an average of the produce, which is contributed by the need for revenue to be left over.

Ideology and false consciousness

This is aimed at not exposing the clear relationship between class and the real state of affairs directed to the exploitation suffered by the exploited (Pines, 1997). Ideology plays a supporting role in the dominant class, the class advantage. Consciousness is the class’s ability to politically identify and fulfill the will. In capitalization, the realities of subordination are hidden by the dominant. Hence, the labor providers suffer from false consciousness (Pines, 1997).

Therefore, according to Marx, the mode of production from the time of the Industrial Revolution is categorized by the means of production private ownership where they exploit their worker unconsciously (Pines, 1997). This has led to the development of different social classes.


Garfinkel, H., & Rawls, A. (2015). Toward a sociological theory of information. Routledge.

Giddens, A. (1971). Capitalism and modern social theory: An analysis of the writings of Marx, Durkheim and Max Weber. Cambridge University Press.

Pines, C. L. (1997). Ideology and false consciousness: Marx and his historical progenitors. SUNY Press.

Ritzer, G., & Stepnisky, J. (2017). Contemporary sociological theory and its classical roots: The basics. SAGE Publications.

Ritzer, G., & Stepnisky, J. (2014). Sociological theory. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.



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