Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Marxism and the proletariat in advanced capitalist societies
Author: Neilson, D. J. M.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3440 7149
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 1983
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
This thesis critically examines Marx's claim that the working class will eventually emerge as a socialist-revolutionary proletariat as its final response to the changing circumstances of capitalist domination. This claim is compared with Marx's own method, his later observations of capitalism, and Lukacs' and Gramsci's theories of class consciousness. -These strands of Marxism are integrated into what has been termed a topographical '. explanation of the proletariat's consciousness in advanced capitalist societies. The topographical approach begins from the proposition that the way people view themselves, their circumstances and society is conditioned, first and foremost, by their particular economic and social positions. The thesis constructs the types of consciousness and understanding the proletariat can be expected to have in response to the character of its circumstances. This method of inference is based in Marx's theory of consciousness. Further, in order to apply this mode of inference to the circumstances and consciousness of the proletariat in advanced capitalist societies, a systematic application of Marx's method is required. The starting-point for this explanation is the inferring of the proletariat's rational-ideal response from its basic conditions of existence. This inference is my interpretation of Lukacs' theory of an 'imputed' class consciousness. The practical applicability of this theory is tested by examining the socioeconomic development of these conditions, as well as other social and psychological factors which influence the character and potential of the proletariat's consciousness. In this way, the explanation advances from the ideal-possibility of the proletariat's consciousness towards its everyday circumstances and concrete characteristics of its consciousness in advanced capitalist societies. The final chapter incorporates politics and ideology into the analysis in order to examine the problems and possibilities of their intervention in the spontaneous process. It discusses, in particular, political and ideological strategies which could mould and direct the proletariat's consciousness to a socialist-revolutionary conclusion. The picture of the proletariat's class consciousness so obtained is considerably more complex and contradictory than Marx's stated theory. Numerous factors act to distort and fragment the socialist-revolutionary tendency. In the development of capitalist society, and in its present advanced stage, a number of contradictory tendencies (implying differing possible results) are observed. The socialist-revolutionary tendency, identifiable at all stages of the analysis, is only one tendency within the proletariat. It is concluded that its emergence as the dominant tendency will depend on the disintegration of capitalism and the emergence of an appropriate political and ideological strategy.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Political science