Question 1 (Marks: 100)

In The Preface to a Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, Marx stated the following:

“It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but on the contrary, their social being determines their consciousness.”

Put more simply:

Discuss the value of sociological theory (its strengths and weaknesses) and social context in relation to the Marxist view of human consciousness. In your answer, provide your opinion on the relevance and value of Marxist views on human consciousness in a contemporary, capitalist society.

NOTE: Discuss means to write about a topic in detail, considering different issues or ideas.


• How sociological and social theory differ.

• The strengths and weaknesses (or critique) of sociological theory.

• The importance of the social context in explaining phenomena such as human consciousness.
• The value of theoretical models in understanding human consciousness.

• The focus of the Marxist views of human consciousness.

• How the Marxist views might be significant in a contemporary, capitalist society, or not.

• Why you think so.

Essay structure:

Your essay should include four main sections:

• Introduction

Your introduction should provide a brief background on the topic and should explain to your reader the difference between social and sociological theory, the value of sociological theory in understanding social phenomena and why social context within sociological theory is considered important.

• “Body” Section

The main body of your essay should consist of two to four titled sub-sections. You should try to identify the main texts or authors that advocate for each of the sub-sections. Then summarise the logic of their arguments, discuss the evidence for and against this view, and provide some analysis of whether the argument makes sense. The main areas that need to be included are how Marxism is considered a sociological theory, the focus of Marxism, and how the Marxist views explain human consciousness. An idea would be to discuss the

Marxist view and provide your critique within that heading, rather than having a separate sub-heading which discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the theory in relation to human consciousness. (Note: This section should not actually be given the title of “Body” in your essay).

• Conclusion

Finally, in your conclusion, summarise the discussion within each sub-heading (including your critique) and emphasise the significance (or not) of Marxist views in a contemporary, capitalist society.

• Reference List

The final section should be an alphabetical list of all the research sources cited in the essay, formatted correctly in the Harvard style (please see the IIE Referencing Guide).

Answers to Above Questions on Sociology

Answer 1: Marxist theory is all based on understanding human behaviour and it evaluates the role of social and economic structure in shaping human consciousness. The key aspects of the Marxist view of human consciousness include structural analysis, historical materialism and critical perspective. This theory has certain weaknesses as well as it overemphasizes on class and has historical limitations as well.

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