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What is class The idea of class has long been a central concept in sociology The concept of class has had a long and troubled history within sociology We might date it origins in the 18th century of the Scottish Enlightenment The idea of class is used by Adam Smith 1723-90 the father of modern economics Smith lived at a time when European societies were being transformed from feudal and largely agricultural societies into modern industrial societies Smith uses the idea of class in association with the idea of the Division of Labour in order to account for changes in the economy and culture of the then new modern societies It is a contemporary of Smiths Adam Ferguson 1723-1816 possibly the person who should really be considered to be the first sociologist who uses the idea of class in a sociological manner Ever since Ferguson and his discussions of civil society the idea of class has become a central concept within European sociology However It is to the work of Karl Marx 1818-1883 that we should turn in order to discover the origins of the contemporary debate about class in contemporary sociology For if Ferguson suggested class Marx developed this idea of class into the class-struggle The idea of class is central to the work of Marx Marx once stated that The class-struggle is the motor force of history Clearly Marx means to suggest here that class is the causal principle behind all social interaction from the very beginnings of human history This is to give the concept of class a central place in the development of human history Such a claim by Marx has led many contemporary sociologists to describe Marx and marxist views as representing a strong thesis on class By attributing Marx and Marxists with a strong thesis on class we are highlighting a number of features of their theory of class 1 Class is understood within
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