Vygotsky’s main idea was that learning and development should be a social collaborative activity and through scaffolding the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) this learning can and will be achieved (Bodrova & Leong, 2007).
Instead of the dynamic synthesis constituted by Marx's negation of the separated and alienated fields of philosophy, political economy and history (class struggle), we have the static and uncritical synthesis of Comte, to be followed by a century of sterile debate in sociology about 'metaphysics or empiricism', 'generalisation or specialised monographs', 'system or action'. Instead of the consistent materialism made possible by Marx's historical or dialectical approach, we have the pseudo-scientific reliance on 'experience', which in Comte's case ended in the purest mysticism, since his 'spiritual' experience was granted just as much validity as any other. Bourgeois sociology in the 20th century is tied, philosophically and methodologically, to the pragmatism of the ruling class. Sociology continues to oscillate between idealism and mechanical materialism: 'social facts as things' on the one hand, freedom of the individual on the other; the classical dichotomy of bourgeois ideology. Instead of social analysis in terms of the contradictory development and struggle of opposites in each specific, historically limited, socioeconomic formation, we have in sociology the search for general principles or sociological laws which transcend specific historical stages. Talcott Parsons' rejection of Marxism, on the grounds that it is a series of 'genetic' explanations, sums up this functionalist barrenness.
Socialist Feminism which,despite the use of Marxist terms and references to capitalismdeveloped, theoretically, as a sort of feminist abstract negationof Marxism.
In the process, thesubject of feminism became increasingly difficult to define, as thepost-modern critique of "woman" as an essentialist category together with critiques grounded in racial, ethnic, sexualpreference and national origin differences resulted in a seeminglynever ending proliferation of "subject positions," "identities,"and "voices." Cultural and identity politics replaced the earlyfocus on capitalism and (among Marxist feminists primarily) classdivisions among women; today class has been reduced to another"ism;" i.e., to another form oppression which, together with genderand race integrate a sort of mantra, something that everyone oughtto include in theorizing and research though, to my knowledge,theorizing about it remains at the level of metaphors (e.g.,interweaving, interaction, interconnection etc.). It was, therefore, very interesting to me to read, a few yearsago, a call for papers for an edited book on Materialist Feminism (MatFem).
What theory of history and what politicsinform this critique?
In this essay, I will identify the differences between thesetwo important currents within feminist theory, and the reasons forthe return of feminist appeals to materialism at a time when thetheoretical shift towards idealism and contingency seems hegemonicin the academy.
But anyone familiarwith Marx's work knows that this is not the case.
To demonstrate, as they did, a dialecticalunderstanding of Marxism, introducing in the analysis of theoppression of women the causal efficacy of the state, ideology, thefamily and other aspects of capitalist society, is to remainfaithful its basic tenets, not to transform it.
Without a connection to other facts, we cannot assess anything.
A theoretical transformationwould have entailed a challenge to Marxism's fundamentalassumptions, rather than the use of those very assumptions totheorize new phenomena.