Neo-Marxism – Theory and Methods

Lesson objectiveTo explore what Neo-Marxists believe
Lesson outcomes• Compare Neo-Marxism to different perspectives
• Evaluate Neo-Marxism
• Explain what Neo-Marxists believe

Preparing for my learning: Flip learning

Do some research on Marxism exploring what it is. Sociology focuses a lot on Marxism, but doesn’t really explore what the ideology really is. Doing this yourself helps you understand more about why Marxists believe what they do. Use the link below to help you.


Gramsci’s, a key Neo-Marxist thinker, created a concept of hegemony. He argued that dominant groups exercise control over minority groups by exerting their ideas and influence. Hegemony is a form of control, with the aim of manipulating and changing people to force them subconsciously to support capitalism. Examples of this are police, prisons, the education system etc and is achieved through the legitimacy of social institutions. 

Althusser’s (2005), created a term called the ‘Ideological State Apparatus’ which are in essence social structures which support and transmit the ruling class’ ideology, for example, education, the media etc. This is called ‘structuralist Neo-Marxism’ as Althusser focuses greater importance on structured, more so than Gramsci. 

The Frankfurt School (actually based in the USA, not Germany) attempted to explain how ideologies of consumerism promote a false consciousness thus creating power over all other classes by the ruling class. A bold statement is that all other forms of culture are reduced to just one mass culture which is artificial and has the purpose to keep the Proletariat under control. This critical theory has been credited with allowing society to question their reality. Walsh (2015) claims they are responsible for being a leading influence in the social justice movement and even the drive for political correctness.


● Critics of Neo-Marxism emphasise there is little evidence to support society is more conflict based rather than consensus. (Functionalists)

● Neo-Marxism is regarded as a major step in the right direction as it encompasses more factors when studying society than just economical such as Marxists. 

●  Neo-Marxism is focused on Capitalism too much and blames it for everything when in fact other causes should be explored. 

● Feminists argue that the focus solely on class ignores gender relations.

There is no solution offered. Sure, revolution is the answer proposed, however, if we are trapped in False Consciousness and don’t know we are, how can a revolution ever get started? 

Supporting my learning

The slide show below is very detailed and will take a lot of time to explore, but is well worth the read combining and bringing together the whole Marxist perspective.

Challenging my learning: Stretch and challenge

The video below is excellent at challenging your learning

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