does Marx's theory of alienation and production give us a new way to look at mental health?
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Below you will find some questions to help guide you
in your second section essay. Remember, the essay functions as both a personal
reflection and an analysis on the material covered. The idea is to demonstrate that
you have understood important aspects of the material. There is not any one
particular way to approach the assignment beyond making sure that it is coherent
(meaning in essay format), relates to the readings for the week, and should be, at a
minimum, four pages in length. Note: It is not necessary to use my suggestions. If
you have questions or would like to run ideas by me, then please feel free to
Potential Ideas for Section Essay #2
Underlying Marx's critique of the capitalist mode of production, we find some
assumptions (some of which are explicit- think "species-being") about human nature.
After reading through his work, do you agree or disagree with his depiction of a
"human"? Is alienation possible and if so, is it a universal experience? Why or
Marx's ideas have experienced a bit of a renaissance after the end of the Cold War,
especially in the context of the global economic crisis (see this article here) .
There have been an explosion in publications with titles like "Why Marx was Right",
which attempt to view our current economic problems through the lenses od Marx's
critique. After reading some of his work, do you think Marx's ideas and theories are
still relevant today?
Marx argued that the ideas of the ruling class are the ideas of society, a notion
that potentially runs against Durkheim's notion of "collective consciouness." Which
perspective do you think is more valuable for explaining dominant beliefs? Are the
two perspectives compatible? Why or why not?
Bourdieu's distinctions between different types of capital highlight the ways in
which we often view our lives in economic terms, but are also frequently limited by
that view. Which perspective do you find the most compelling or powerful: that of
the economic view, or that of the social? What role has social and cultural capital
played in your life? Is it something you've considered in the past? Do you find
that Bourdieu's explanation provides insight into your own personal experiences?
Why or why not?
If none of the ideas above strike your fancy and you are having difficulty
determining what to write about, consider the following:
1. Was there something important in the reading/theoretical position that you
strongly disagree with? If so, that disagreement may be a suitable topic for the
2. Do you think the theory(s) proposed by Marx or Bourdieu have continued or
contemporary relevance? If so, how might that be demonstrated? If not, what
evidence do you have to support your argument? Either position might be a suitable
topic for the essay.
3. Did you find one reading more compelling than the others? Why is that? Perhaps
you should direct your focus of the essay to that specific reading.
4. Have you identified any inconsistencies in the readings which may influence the
value of the ideas within? If so, what are they and what implications do these
inconsistencies have? This may also serve as the basis for the essay.
5. Do you have an alternative explanation for any of the theories posed? If so,
what is it? How would you defend your own theory?
6. Do you think that adopting the theoretical perspective(s) from this section would
help to give us a better understanding of a different field? For instance, does
Marx's theory of alienation and production give us a new way to look at mental
health? Does Bourdieu's theories regarding the taste and social class help us to
understand the problems of gender in the workplace (e.g. the glass ceiling; unequal