What do Marx, the Simpsons, and hog farms have in common? If you were a student in my discussion section for Contemporary Sociological Theory, you’d know!
This week we did a brief re-cap of Marx’s ideas on how workers misunderstand the capitalist system in which they are enmeshed. Next week we’ll discuss how Frankfurt School scholars combine these insights with those of Freud to explain mass support for fascist and Nazi regimes during the World War I and II era.
To help my students understand Marx, I showed these two short videos and asked them to think about the following questions while they watched.
1. How can Marx be used to analyse these videos? Which Marxist concepts do you see illustrated? (hint, estrangement/alienation and commodity fetishism)
2. How far does Marx take us in analyzing these videos? What do you see that is NOT well explained through his work? (hint: a consumer-based solution)
Pushing my students to think about the strengths and, importantly, the limitations of social theory’s ability to help them understand the world around them is a big part of what I do in this class. Fun stuff.