Marxism and the Concept of Class

Marxism, as a socio-political and economic theory, has significantly shaped our understanding of societal structures and the distribution of power. At the core of Marxist philosophy is the concept of class, which explores the intricate relationships and power dynamics among different segments of society. This article delves into the foundations of Marxism and its profound analysis of class struggle.

The Marxist View of Society
Marxism, developed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in the 19th century, offers a critical perspective on society, emphasising the role of economic structures in shaping human relations. Marxists argue that the means of production—such as factories, land, and resources—determine the organisation of society and influence the distribution of wealth and power.

The Basis of Class
For Marxists, class is not merely an economic category but a fundamental social division. The key factor defining one's class is their relationship to the means of production. The bourgeoisie, or capitalist class, owns and controls these means, while the proletariat, or working class, sells their labor to the bourgeoisie in exchange for wages.

Class Struggle
Marxism asserts that history is marked by class struggle, a perpetual conflict between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The bourgeoisie seeks to maintain and expand its wealth and power, while the proletariat aims to improve working conditions, achieve fair wages, and eventually overthrow the capitalist system.

Exploitation and Alienation
Marxist theory argues that the capitalist system inherently exploits the working class. The surplus value created by the labor of the proletariat is appropriated by the bourgeoisie, leading to economic inequality. Moreover, Marx highlighted the concept of alienation, where workers become estranged from the products of their labor, their own humanity, and the social process of production.

Class Consciousness
Marx believed that for true social change to occur, the proletariat must develop class consciousness—an awareness of their shared interests and the oppressive nature of the capitalist system. This consciousness is a precursor to collective action and the eventual overthrow of the bourgeoisie.

Evolution of Classes
Marxism recognises the potential for class structures to evolve. As capitalism develops, Marx predicted a growing polarisation between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. He also foresaw the emergence of a revolutionary class, capable of leading the proletariat in the struggle for a classless society.

Critiques of Marxism
While influential, Marxism has faced criticism for its deterministic view of historical development and its potential for oversimplifying complex social realities. Critics argue that focusing solely on economic factors neglects the impact of culture, politics, and individual agency.

Contemporary Relevance
Despite critiques, the Marxist perspective on class remains relevant in contemporary discussions about inequality, labour rights, and social justice. Movements advocating for fair wages, better working conditions, and wealth redistribution echo the core principles of Marxist thought.

Marxism's exploration of class dynamics has left an indelible mark on the study of sociology and political theory. By scrutinising the relationships between different classes and the structures that perpetuate inequality, Marxism invites us to critically examine the systems that shape our societies and envision alternatives that prioritise social justice and collective well-being.
Back to blog

UOL Case Bank

Upon joining, you become a valuable UOL student and gain instant access to over 2,100 case summaries. UOL Case Bank is constantly expanding. Speed up your revision with us now.

Subscribe Now

Where are our students from?

Yale University
Council of Europe
Baker Mckenzie 
University of Chicago
Columbia University
New York University
University of Michigan 
University College London (UCL)
London School of Economics (LSE)
King’s College London (KCL)
University of London
University of Manchester
University of Zurich
University of York
Brandeis University
University of Exeter
University of Sheffield
Boston University
University of Washington
University of Leeds
University of Law
Royal Holloway, University of London 
Birkbeck, University of London
SOAS, University of London
University of Kent
University of Hull
Queen’s University Belfast
Toronto Metropolitan University
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
University of Buckingham
ESSEC Business School

  • Criminal Practice

    Diagrams and Charts

    Our carefully designed diagrams and charts will guide you through complex legal issues.

  • Criminal Law

    Clear and Succinct Definitions

    Key concepts are concisely defined to help you understand legal topics quickly.

  • Property Law

    Statutory Provisions

    Statutory provisions are provided side by side with legal concepts to help you swiftly locate the relevant legislation.

  • Public Law

    Case Summaries

    We have summarised important cases for you so that you don't need to read long and boring cases.

  • Evidence

    Rules and Exceptions

    Rules and exceptions are clearly listed so that you know when a rule applies and when it doesn't.

  • Company Law


    Legal terms and key concepts are explained at the beginning of each chapter to help you learn efficiently.

  • Case Law

    Case law is provided side by side with legal concepts so that you know how legal principles and precedents were established.

  • Law Exam Guide

    Law Essay Guide

    You will learn essential law exam skills and essay writing techniques that are not taught in class.

  • Law Exam Guide

    Problem Question Guide

    We will show you how to answer problem questions step by step to achieve first-class results.

  • Conflict of Laws

    Structured Explanations

    Complex legal concepts are broken down into concise and digestible bullet point explanations.

  • Legal System and Method

    Legal Research

    You will learn legal research techniques with our study guide and become a proficient legal researcher.

  • Jurisprudence and Legal Theory


    All essential concepts, principles, and case law are included so that you can answer exam questions quickly.