Friday, May 4, 2012

Marxism in Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey is a show set in the 1910's at a made up estate with the same name.  From what I have seen, the show has a very interesting dynamic to it, due to the two different classes living at Downton Abbey.  There exists the upperclass Crawley family, consisting of Robert, Cora, Josephine, Edith, Sybil, Violet, Matthew, and Isobel.  Then, there is the entire staff.  While both classes live in the estate, they lead vastly different lives, and hardly interact with each other without the King-Servent dynamic present.

From a Marxist perspective when examining Downton Abbey, it is best to look at the show and how the society presented has a very clear "mode of production."   The "mod of production produces: (i) specific ways of obtaining the necessaries of life; (ii) specific social relationships between workers and those who control the mode of production, and (iii) specific social institutions (including cultural ones)" (59).  Further, from a Marxist view, this show presents a very clear "base" and "superstructure"

"The 'base' consists of a combination of the 'forces of production' and the 'relations of production'. The forces of production refer to the raw materials, the tools, the technology, and the workers and their skills, etc" (60).  In the case of Downton Abbey, this would be the servants, the vallet, and everyone who works for the Crawley family.  

There is a clear division between the "base" and the "superstructure".  The superstructure "consists of institutions (political, legal, educational, cultural, etc)" (ibid.).  In this scenario the Crawley family represents the "superstructure," because they own all of the land, the home, and posses all the wealth.  Because of this, they control the mode of production and make all of the major decisions.

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