Criticisms of Karl Max and Talcott Parsons Explanation of social change
Karl Marx is known for his socio-political theory that has greatly influenced and caused major development of social science and social change. Talcott Parsons on the other hand is known for his grand theory approach into the understanding of the revolution of social change. Both of these two sociologists have received equal criticisms into their view on social change. This paper discusses why Karl Marx and Talcott parsons have often been criticized for failing to provide an adequate explanation of social change.
Parsons was mainly criticized by contemporary sociologist like Wright Mills. It is claimed that the grand theory is not based on facts but rather Parson had the intention of imposing his will on data interpretation. Parsons explains in his theory that the society has developed through history in three main stages. The first stage is the primitive stage followed by the archaic stage then the modern society that is the society of today. The archaic society had the ability to write where as the modern society has both the ability to write and knowledge of law (Parsons, 1975). He says that western civilization culminates the modern society. He further explains that the system of society has developed through adaptation, differentiation and upgrading. By comparing modern society to that of Americans and saying that it is the most modernized society, made his theory to be under attack for accusations of ethnocentrism.
He never satisfied his explanation of social change because he states the systems of society are trying to achieve equilibrium and that the evolution of society is similar to the evolution of human nature biologically. It is not possible for a society to attain a perfect equilibrium state since society and systems of social culture tend to lean more towards attaining social change. In addition to these criticisms, Parsons has also been criticized for his writing style which made it difficult for people to understand his claims well.
Karl Marx on the other hand was more focused on social change than on society attaining a state of equilibrium. His major failure was on the part that most of his predictions did not turn out to be true. For instance, he had predicted that capitalism will come to an end beginning with highly industrialized nations (Avineri, 1968). This never happened because it was China and the Soviet Union that first adopted socialism. His predictions were further met with a big hit by the falling out of communism in the Soviet Union and in China in the late 20th century. He also did not explain social change properly since he sensitized that maximum profit can only be achieved by increasing the labor force. He failed to realize that profit can also be attained by investments on technology and human capital.
Marx also predicted that inequality would increase and the gap between the rich and the poor would also rise due to capitalism. The working class would be more and more impoverished as they will be exploited by the rich. Trade unions have helped disapprove this Marxists claims by bringing reforms of liberal nature. Workers today have an improved state of work thanks to the involvement of trade unions in fighting for their rights. The working class that Marx had predicted to increase is reducing because of the replacement of industrialization with the service sector (Avineri, 1968). The only instant where Marx and his theory proved to be true was during the economic recession witnessed in 2008, but however world economies are pulling out of it.
Avineri, S. (1968). The Social and Political Thought of Karl Marx. Cambridge:
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Parsons, T. (1975). The Present Status of “Structural-Functional” Theory in Sociology.
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