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Crisis and Change Today: Basic Questions of Marxist Sociology

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Crisis and Change Today

Basic Questions of Marxist Sociology

By Peter Knapp

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Format: Paperback / softback, 387 pages, 2nd Edition
Published In: United States, 16 January 2011
Crisis and Change Today provides a solid introduction to Marxist social theory. The work's unique voice is expressed in its Socratic-dialogic approach, structured around forty questions that students have about society and social change. Topics range from theories of history, economics, unemployment, racial oppression, the state, fascism, the collapse of the Soviet bloc, and points of convergence and difference between the dialectical approach and other approaches to social science. The content and tone of the work invites students to evaluate various traditional and current explanations of social institutions and social processes and encourages them to weigh the debates and investigate further. The first edition was very well received (Distinguished Scholarship Award of the Section on Marxist Sociology of the ASA), and the second edition has been thoroughly revised and updated to be relevant for students today. Though the first edition was written during the wake of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the growing gap between the rich and the poor and the economic crisis have generated more interest in using Marxist analysis both as a tool to analyze and understand capitalism and the weaknesses of past Marxist praxis.

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables Preface to the Second Edition Introduction Chapter 1: Base and Superstructure: Marx's Theory of History Introduction: Sociology confronts History-Class as the Basis of Social Structure and the Backbone of History Section 1.1: Is There a Logic to History? If So, What Is It? Section 1.2: What Is the Basis of Social Structure? Section 1.3: Have States Always Existed? Section 1.4: Have Classes Always Existed? Section 1.5: What Is Feudalism? What Is Liberalism? Section 1.6: What Causes Social Movements and Social Change? Section 1.7: Are Events Inevitable? Was the French Revolution Inevitable? Section 1.8: What Are the Dynamics of the Modern World? Section 1.9: What Are the Fundamental Problems of the Modern World? Section 1.10: Are Classes in the United States Based on Exploitation? Summary and Conclusion: History, Historical Sociology, and Comparative History Chapter 2: Surplus Value: Marx's Economics Introduction: Marxist Economics and the Science of Social Change Section 2. 1: What Is a Commodity? What Is the Labor Theory of Value? Section 2.2: What Is Surplus Value? Section 2.3: What Is Overproduction? How Can There Be Too Much Food, Housing, or Health Care? Section 2.4: What Are the Dynamics of Production for Profit? Section 2.5: Why Is There Unemployment? Section 2.6: Who Benefits from Racism and Sexism? Section 2.7: How Much Misery Is There in the United States? Section 2.8: Is the United States a Land of Exceptional Mobility? Does It Matter? Section 2.9: Why Are There Economic Depressions? Section 2. 10: Why Has the U.S. Been "Number 1?" Summary and Conclusions: Economics and Political Economy Chapter 3: Class Struggle: Class, Party, and Political Theory Introduction: Economic Determinism Versus Political Processes and Ideas-A False Debate Section 3.1: What Is the Basis of a Truly Free Society? Section 3.2: What Are Capitalists' Political Resources Under Capitalism? Section 3.3: What Are the Crucial Political Changes in the World Today? Section 3.4: How Does Capitalist Politics Change? Section 3.5 What Is Fascism? Section. 3.6: What Determines Different Degrees of Destructiveness of Fascism? Section 3.7: What Is a "Dictatorship of the Proletariat"? Section 3.8: What Are the Main Varieties of Marxism? Section 3.9: Why Did Socialism Collapse in the USSR and China? Section 3. 10: What Does the Collapse of Socialist World Powers Mean for Change? Summary and Conclusion: Marxist Political Theory Chapter 4: Applying Dialectics: Some Issues in the Philosophy of Science Introduction: Dialectics-A Way of Looking at the World, or the Way the World Works? Section 4.1: Is a Science of Society Possible? Section 4.2: What Are the Main Sources of Error in Social Theory? Section 4.3: Are Attempts at Neutrality a Guarantee of Objectivity? Section 4.4: Crisis and Change Section 4.5: Can Social Science Be Value-Neutral? Should It Be? Section 4.6: Is Society Based on the Thoughts of Its Members? Section 4.7: What Are Ideologies? Section 4.8: What Contradictions Exist in Society? Section 4.9: Can One Find Laws of Change in History? Section 4.10: What Possibilities Are Open to Human Society? Summary and Conclusions: Contradictions, Dialects, and Science Index About the Authors

About the Author

Peter Knapp is professor of sociology at Villanova University. Alan Spector is professor of sociology at Purdue University Calumet.

Reviews

Crisis and Change Today, second edition provides an accessible overview of the basic concepts and relevant applications of a Marxist sociology. Knapp and Spector clearly show what distinguishes a Marxist sociology from other types of sociological analysis. -- Rhonda F. Levine, Colgate University A scholarly and insightful overview of Marxist work in sociology that also serves as a useful introduction to all the major schools of Marxist thought! This is not an easy combination to bring off, but one that is very important, especially today, and Knapp and Spector merit an 'A+' for their achievement. When one adds the wealth of excellent examples and the crystal clear writing in which all this is conveyed, we have a book that will charm and instruct students and professors alike. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! -- Bertell Ollman, author of Alienation: Marx's Conception of Man in Capitalist Society; NYU An impressive compendium of the fundamental principles of Marxist sociology, Crisis and Change Today makes a major contribution to our understanding of the origins, contradictions, and transformation of contemporary capitalist society. Knapp and Spector have performed a great service in providing us a clear and concise analysis of the foundations of Marxist theory that analyzes the roots of today's epochal crisis of global capitalism. Valuable for readers outside the U.S. as well, this is a must reading for all those concerned with the future of our society, and of our planet. I highly recommend this book as a most important guide to educate a new generation of college students to help effect societal change. -- Berch Berberoglu, University of Nevada, Reno Ever since the break-up of the Soviet Union pundits and ideologues have declared the end of Marxism and the triumph of capitalism. And yet, year after year we continue to see the ravages of capitalism in the form of relentless poverty in the Third World, destabilized economies in more developed countries outside Europe and North America, and two decades of stagnant working- and middle-class real wages. For the past several years US and Europe has been experiencing rising and persistent unemployment, and in 2008 we witnessed a near-collapse of a still struggling economy as a direct result of the unmitigated greed in financial markets, greed that is central to our capitalist system. What is quickly and conveniently forgotten is that a Marxist analysis is a means of analyzing how capitalism functions with the goal of transforming society to achieve the promise of a just society. Knapp and Spector provide a much needed primer on Marxist Sociology, its chapters guiding the reader through the core concepts (Base and Superstructure: Marx's Theory of History), methods of analysis (Surplus Value: Marx's Economics) and important understandings derived from that form of analysis (Class Struggle: Class, Party and Political Theory). The book ends on a high note (Applying Dialectics: Some Issues in the Philosophy of Science) delving into what we can achieve with this form of social analysis, and providing some insight into how to understand and redress the ills produced by capitalist social relationships and its system of production. This book is an essential addition to the library of anyone interested in a critical understanding of our society, and an important classroom tool for teaching the foundations of Marxist Sociology. -- David Fasenfest, editor of Critical Sociology; associate professor, Wayne State University Crisis and Change Today is a textbook... as a textbook it plays a potential role in introducing young readers to those concerns. The book covers Marx's thought comprehensively, with some illustrations from more recent Marxist work. As such it is a good introductory text... In sum, Crisis and Change Today is a good, comprehensive, introduction to Marx. Marx & Philosophy Review of Books

EAN: 9780742520448
ISBN: 0742520447
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
Dimensions: 22.61 x 14.99 x 2.29 centimetres (0.45 kg)
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