appearance and reality
appearance and reality(especially in MARXISM) the distinction drawn between 'S urface’ social relations – the appearance - and the underlying determinants of social reality, hidden from view by IDEOLOGY, etc. For example, for Marx, the LABOUR THEORY OF VALUE provides the key to a 'S cientific’ understanding of the true character of CAPITALISM, i.e. its ‘exploitative’ and ‘contradictory’ character, rather than the apparent ‘fairness’of the CAPITALIST LABOUR CONTRACT. In drawing a general distinction between appearance and reality, Marx did not wish to suggest that surface appearances were in any sense wholly unreal, but simply that they disguised more fundamental, ultimately determining relations. The distinction also drawn between epiphenomena (surface) and phenomena (underlying reality) is another way of saying the same thing. See also COMMODITY FETISHISM, REIFICATION.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000