Main content
Current time:0:00Total duration:4:18

Class consciousness and false consciousness

Video transcript

- Let's draw some factories and next to them, let's draw some farms. So what I'm drawing here is something called the means of production. These are facilities and resources by which we can produce goods. Now when we think about factories and farms, who owns them? Typically, it's pretty wealthy, wealthy individuals. On the flip side, those individuals typically hire a large amount of workers and what the workers offer is their labor. The workers don't own any of the means of production. They don't tend to get any of the profits or major benefits. They tend to get some kind of salary, generally. So, when we look at the owners and we look at the workers, we should start to realize that there's a class divide and when we think about class in society, we often think about the hierarchy of the upper class and middle class and lower class and we often say the lower class are the working class and that upper and middle class, they may very well be the owners. Now we come onto a theory and this was a theory that was partly discussed by someone called Karl Marx and further put forward by people who were advocates of his theory called Marxists. And what this theory says is that these workers, who are part of this working class, they don't realize that they're being exploited and oppressed by this capitalistic model of working where the owners control the means of production and they get all of the benefits and all the rewards. But what can happen, is that these workers can develop something called class consciousness and what that means is that they realize that as a class of society, that they have solidarity with one another against the owners, against the people who own the means of production and that they must struggle to overcome this oppression and exploitation. And part of that may involve seizing and obtaining the means of production and redistributing the means of production amongst the workers. So in class consciousness, the workers seek to obtain the factories and the farms and take over the ownership. However, there's another part to this theory and that part conflicts with class consciousness and this is called false consciousness. And unlike class consciousness, when the workers start to see that their struggle is that they have solidarity with one another, and that they're in a class struggle against the owners. In false consciousness, they're unable to see their alleged exploitation and oppression. And remember, the story of society, the information that floats around societies are often controlled by the people in power, the owners, the people who control the means of production. So through a lot of processes, they can install this false consciousness, promote it among the workers. So when we think about false consciousness, we see that the owners may be feeding a lot of information and controlling processes in society to the workers and maybe giving them hope that one or two of them may potentially become owners in the future, whether that's true or not and really promoting this false consciousness, making it much more difficult for the workers to unite and see their true levels of exploitation and oppression. So one of the things we need to also focus on is this false consciousness and class consciousness is part of this Marxist theory and there's many people who would obviously disagree with this. And some of the ways we're thinking about owners and workers in these models, they really refer to much more historic models of how society worked in regards to society's way of farms and factories are dominant, which isn't necessarily the case in some of the more developed countries in the world today.