Marxism Essay

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Karl Marx and his Marxist approach gave rise to multiple new theories that took part in analysis of effects the text has on the reader and society. This includes the cultural studies theorist Louis Althusser and new historicist Michel Foucault. These theorists, although somewhat different in altering Marx’s approach, stress the deep structure as the underlying nature of society. All three will view society as class, although Althusser and Foucault will focus on the social classes as ‘subjects’ whose consciousness and power are at work on society. Overall similarities are focused upon the shift toward the external view of culture, which includes the thoughts of production, industry, and scientific discoveries, with respect to structures of power. Means of reproduction will differ in the relation of these three theorists. Marx will focus on the historical social changes by which the primacy of production is viewed as an analytical concept. His ideology is what allows a power structure to reproduce itself and thus resulting in reproduced productive forces and existing relations of production. Althusser agrees, as he notes, “As Marx said, every child knows that a social formation which did not reproduce the conditions of production at the same time as it produced would not last a year” (1335). His focus will shift to how the reproduction of diversified skills of labor power are provided for in a capitalist regime, noting that they are achieved by more outside establishments. This is done through his use of ISA and RSAs, instead of Marx’s simple focus on mainly the state alone. Foucault also turns his attention to what shapes “knowledge”, as he focused on historical documents to reveal the way “knowledge” is constituted in specific hi...

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...xists. Applying semiotics will bring upon such theory of language, where when structure is applied, the work disappears and all that’s left is the text to conceptualize. As related to structuralism and in so far as literature is moved from work to text, it is caught up in the play of differences that constitutes language. Text is not a thing, but rather language, which is a set of relationships you get from structuralism. There relationships create a methodological field where actions need to be activated, where demonstration is the tracing of such elements. Literature itself then is seen as not a thing, but a place where relationships are traced and produced. Supported by Todorov as he states, “the text is not the decomposition of the work, it is the work that is the imaginary tail of the text, or again, the text is experienced only in an active production” (1327).

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