Neo-Marxism is based on Marxism, but offers more complex answers other than simply an economic principal.
Gramsci’s, a key Neo-Marxist thinker, created a concept ofhegemony. He argued that dominant groups exercise control over minority groups through exerting their ideas and influence. Hegemony is a form of control, with the aim of manipulating and changing people to force them subconsciously to support capitalism. Examples of this are police, prisons, the education system etc and is achieved though the legitimacy of social institutions.
Althusser’s (2005), created a term called the 'Ideological State Apparatus' which are in essence social structures which support and transmit the ruling class' ideology, for example, education, the media etc. This is called ‘structuralist Neo-Marxism’ as Althusser focuses greater importance on structured, more so than Gramsci.
The Frankfurt school (actually based in the USA, not Germany) attempted to explain how ideologies of consumerism promotes a false consciousness thus creating power over all other classes by the ruling class. A bold statement is that all other forms of culture are reduced to just one mass culture which is artificial and has the purpose to keep the Proletariat under control. This critical theory has been credited with allowing society to question their reality. Walsh (2015) claims they are responsible for being a leading influence in the social justice movement and even the drive for political correctness.
Evaluation ● Critics of Neo-Marxism emphasise there is little evidence to support society is more conflict based rather than consensus. (Functionalists) ● Neo-Marxism is regarded as a major step in the right direction as it encompasses more factors when studying society than just economical such as Marxists. ● Neo-Marxism is focused on Capitalism too much and blames it for everything when in fact other causes should be explored. ● Feminists argue that the focus solely on class ignores gender relations. There is no solution offered. Sure, revolution is the answer proposed, however, if we are trapped in False Consciousness and don't know we are, how can a revolution ever get started?