Part of the SAGE Social Thinkers series, this brief and clearly–written book provides a concise introduction to the work, life, and influences of Karl Marx, one of the most revered, reviled, and misunderstood figures in modern history. The book serves as an excellent introduction to the full range of Marx’s major themes—alienation, economics, social class, capitalism, communism, materialism, environmental sustainability—and considers the extent to which they are relevant today. It is ideal for use as a self-contained volume or in conjunction with other sociological theory textbooks.
A definition and explanation of ideology and ideologists before discussing Marx’s own analysis of ideology will aid in the presentation that follows. Ideology is a set of ideas and beliefs that explain, sanction, and justify the current social structure of positions, outcomes, and authority. An ideology can thus protect a current social structure from critiques that question whether the social structure is just, natural, exploitative, beneficial, or the only possible social structure. Ideologists are people who create, disseminate, or use the set of ideas and beliefs that form an ideology. Some analyses of ideology find that what separates ideological from nonideological ideas and beliefs is that an ideological set is false. For example, if someone holds an idea that capitalist class relationships are ...