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Praxis

Susan Wortmann

Subject Cultural Studies
Sociology » Sociological and Social Theory

Key-Topics Marxism, Marxist theory

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


Extract

Praxis is a term most commonly associated with the ability of oppressed groups to change their economic, political, and social worlds through rationally informed reflection and deliberate social action. As advocated and critiqued by contemporary theorists, the term itself is often loosely associated with the melding of theory to liberatory human action. In classical sociological theory, praxis is connected with Karl Marx and his emphasis on the revolutionary potential of the proletariat. Interpretations of Marx's usage of praxis vary (see, for instance, Gouldner 1980 , who discusses Marx's dual treatment of the term), but most associate a Marxist-based praxis with societal transformation that involves a concomitant change in the proletariat's material activity, consciousness, and social relations. Hence, Marx is frequently quoted: “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point, however, is to change it” (1978 [1844]: 145). Moreover, Marx and Friedrich Engel's Communist Manifesto lays out this theory and plan of praxis: the dual abolition of class and class exploitation in the forms of private property, the patriarchal nuclear family, traditional religion, and country and nation. At issue for Marx is holistic human and social transformation. Contemporary theorists advocate praxis-based solutions to end the subaltern status of many oppressed groups, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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