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Marxist Sociology

Michael McCarthy, Jeff Manza


LAST MODIFIED: 27 July 2011
DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756384-
0032
Introduction
Karl Marx (b. 1818d. 1883) and his lifelong collaborator Friedrich Engels (b. 1820d.
1895) developed a body of thought that would inspire major social movements, initiate
revolutionary social change across the globe, and provide the foundation for many
socialist or communist governments. More recently, Marxisms political influence has
waned, with most of the formerly communist regimes undergoing significant change. It
is important, however, to separate out Marxism as a system of ideas in the social
sciences from Marxism as a political ideology and the foundation for revolutionary
social movements and as a governing philosophy. Marxist ideas have influenced many
fields of thought and indeed have played a particularly important role in the
development of the discipline of sociology. Classical sociological theorists such as
mile Durkheim (b. 1858d. 1917) and Max Weber (b. 1864d. 1920), for example,
developed their theories of society in conversation with the works of Karl Marx.
However, as it evolved in the United States and western Europe in the middle parts of
the 20th century, sociologys dialogue with Marxian propositions declined. For
example, the widely influential norm-oriented functionalist sociology of Talcott Parsons
(b. 1902d. 1979) had little engagement with Marxist thought. In the aftermath of the
large-scale social struggles of the 1960s and 1970s, however, sociologists around the
world increasingly embraced a historically oriented approach to knowledge and in many
cases found in the classics of Marxism a source of inspiration. Debates and
controversies over Marxism continue to shape the development of sociology up to the
present time, although neo-Marxism is less influential today than it was twenty-five
years ago. Nonetheless, serious students of sociology have to have some familiarity with
some of the classical ideas and theorists of Marxism, and Marxist theories continue to
influence some parts of the discipline today.

General Overviews
It is hardly surprising, given its historical significance, that hundreds of general
overviews of Marxism have been written. As a body of thought and a political
movement, Marxism can be synthesized from many points of view. McLellan 1974
offers an ideal introduction through an examination of the life and ideas of Marx
himself. Draper 1977 and Draper 1978 focus more squarely on the relationship between
Marxism and politics. In the case of Marxist sociology, Bottomore 1984 provides a
historical analysis of the relationship between Marxism and sociology. Lefebvre 1968s
contribution provides a more advanced introduction. Mandel 1970 is a good place to
start for students interested in Marxist economic theory (which is shaped by sociological
insights far more than its neoclassical competitors). Foley 1986 develops more
formalized models for understanding the basic contributions of Marxs political
economy. Finally, Ollman 1976 offers an excellent overview of Marxs philosophical
concept of alienation.

Bottomore, Tom. 1984. Sociology and socialism. New York: St. Martins Press.

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A collection of essays that examine the historical relationship of Marxist theory


to sociological thought, highlighting in particular the ways in which the growth
of sociology has reflected an ongoing dialogue with Marxism.

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Draper, Hal. 1977. Karl Marxs theory of revolution. Vol. 1, State and
bureaucracy. New York: Monthly Review Press.

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This is a thorough, wide-ranging, and easy-to-comprehend exegesis of Marx and


Engels writings on democracy and their approach to politics. It is part of a five-
volume collection on a range of central concepts and debates in Marxian theory.

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Draper, Hal. 1978. Karl Marxs theory of revolution. Vol. 2, The politics of
social classes. New York: Monthly Review Press.

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This excellent follow-up to Volume 1 continues with a clear and wide-ranging


exegesis of Marx and Engels, focused squarely on the question of social class
the class structure, classes in history, and classes and revolution.

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Foley, Duncan K. 1986. Understanding capital: Marxs economic theory.


Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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This clear and short book reviews the core contributions of all three volumes of
Marxs major economic treatise, Capital. This is a very useful resource for those
who engage with Marxs political economy.
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Lefebvre, Henri. 1968. The sociology of Marx. New York: Pantheon.

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Seeks to uncover the systematic contributions to sociology in the writings of


Karl Marx, including Marxs contributions to social theory, the sociology of
knowledge, political sociology, and class analysis. Originally published in
French in 1966.

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Mandel, Ernest. 1970. An introduction to Marxist economic theory. New York:


Pathfinder.

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This short book offers a concise exploration of the basic concepts in Marxs
political economy.

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McLellan, David. 1974. Karl Marx: His life and thought. London: Harper &
Row.

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This is a key biography of Marx, situating his core theoretical contributions in


his social and intellectual milieu.

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Ollman, Bertell. 1976. Alienation: Marxs conception of man in a capitalist


society. 2d ed. Cambridge Studies in the History and Theory of Politics.
Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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This is the most thorough exploration of Marxs concept of alienationthe


condition of human beings in capitalist societyin the English language.

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Resources
There are a few resources available for understanding Marxism and Marxian debates.
The first is the website Marxists.org, which offers a huge archive of writings by leading
figures in Marxism. Also, Bottomore 1991 is an excellent dictionary of Marxian terms
that offers concise explanations on a very wide range of concepts relevant to Marxian
sociology.

Bottomore, Tom B., ed. 1991. A dictionary of Marxist thought. 2d ed. Malden:
Blackwell.

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A scholarly dictionary, with the key terms and concepts of Marxism defined and
explicated.

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Marxists.org.

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This extraordinary Internet archive makes available the writings of almost 600
socialist and/or anticapitalist thinkers, from the 19th century up to the present.
All writings are free to view and download.

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Journals
There are a large number of journals oriented toward Marxian research and political
commentary. Many of these journals are political in nature and are organized by
Marxian or socialist organizations. While several of these offer good analysis, we have
included only journals with a specifically academic character and that are in English.
These include Critical Sociology, Historical Materialism, Journal of Agrarian Change,
Journal of World-Systems Research, Monthly Review, New Left Review, Rethinking
Marxism, and Socialist Register.

Critical Sociology.

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Originally published as the Insurgent Sociologist, this journal publishes work


from Marxist, post-Marxist, and feminist perspectives.

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Historical Materialism.

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An interdisciplinary journal that explores and develops the explanatory potential


of Marxian theory.
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Journal of Agrarian Change.

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This is the leading Marxian journal of agrarian political economy.

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Journal of World-Systems Research.

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The leading journal of world-systems analysis. Not Marxist, per se, this journal
encourages submission from a range of theoretical traditions, including
Marxism.

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Monthly Review.

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A long-running interdisciplinary Marxian journal, founded by the Marxist


economists Paul Sweezy and Leo Huberman in 1949. Well known for engaging
with contemporary political controversies.

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New Left Review.

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The premier journal of Marxist thought in the world. Interdisciplinary in


character and theoretical tradition, as its contributions draw on a large range of
intellectual traditionsfrom Marxism to post-Marxismanimated by an
attention to contemporary political developments and intellectual debates.

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Rethinking Marxism.

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An interdisciplinary journal that aims to engage with the challenges facing


Marxism and the global left.

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Socialist Register.

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An interdisciplinary Marxian journal that serves as an annual survey of


movements and ideas. Each issue is thematically organized.

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Key Writings of Marx and Engels for Sociologists


Karl Marx (b. 1818d. 1883) and Friedrich Engels (b. 1820d. 1895) established a
personal and intellectual collaboration that lasted a lifetime and produced an enormous
output (the collected works of Karl Marx are over fifty volumes). This output generated
the founding contributions to Marxism. The texts identified here provide some of their
core contributions, especially those of interest to sociologists. These texts provide key
introductions to the writings of Marx and Engels on capitalism and philosophy (Marx
1988, Marx 1998), historical materialism (the Marxist theory of history; Marx and
Engels 1998a), the political economy of capitalism (Marx 1976, Marx 1991), the family
and the state (Engels 2010), and capitalism and politics (Marx 2004, Marx and Engels
1998b).

Engels, Friedrich. 2010. The origin of the family, private property, and the state.
London: Penguin Press.

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This is the first materialist attempt at providing an account of the development


of social relations from ancient society to antiquity. Originally published in
1844.

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Marx, Karl. 1976. Capital. Vol. 1. Translated by Ben Fowkes. New York:
Vintage Books.

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Marxs magnum opus. The defining work of Marxist political economy,


sociologists will find the most use in the following sections: The Commodity
(chapter 1), The General Formula for Capital, The Concept of Relative Surplus
Value, Simple Reproduction, The Transformation of Surplus Value into Capital,
The General Law of Accumulation, and The Secret of Primitive Accumulation.
Originally published in 1867.

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Marx, Karl. 1988. Economic and philosophical manuscripts of 1844. Translated


by Martin Milligan. New York: Prometheus.
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These are posthumously published notebooks that grapple with Hegels


economics and philosophy. This book is most often used because of its chapter
Estranged Labor(pp. 6984), which develops Marxs core ideas concerning
alienation. Originally published in 1844.

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Marx, Karl. 1991. Capital. Vol. 3. London: Penguin.

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Published posthumously, Volume 3 makes further critical contributions to


Marxs political economy. The key section is Part Three: The Law of the
Tendential Fall in the Rate of Profit a formal statement of Marxs theory of
economic crisis. Originally published in 1894.

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Marx, Karl. 1998. Theses on Feuerbach. In The German ideology. By Karl Marx
and Friedrich Engels. Amherst, NY: Prometheus.

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These are eleven short theses on the work of Feuerbach that offer a critique of
both materialism and idealism. In a matter of two pages, these theses provide
Marxs core criticisms of the philosophy of his time. The theses conclude with
one of Marxs most memorable phrases, The philosophers have only interpreted
the world, in various ways; the point is to change it. Originally published in
1845.

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Marx, Karl. 2004. Eighteenth brumaire of Louis Bonaparate. New York:


International.

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Originally published in Die Revolution, a monthly publication, this work


constitutes the best application by Marx of historical materialism to a concrete
political situation. Utilizing a class analysis, Marxs explains the 1851 coup
detat of Louis Bonaparte and in turn demonstrates how competing classes and
class fractions shaped political history. Originally published in 1852.

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Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. 1998a. The German ideology. Amherst, NY:
Prometheus.
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In addition to being a polemic against many of the prominent philosophers of the


time, this work provides their only major exposition of the materialist theory of
history. It also includes a famous section on ruling class-ideologies. First
published from 18451846.

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Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. 1998b. The Communist manifesto. London:
Verso.

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The most-read of the classical contributions. This was written as a political tract
for mass consumption and as such is both easy to grasp and presents their core
insights in a tight and literary style. This is an ideal first introduction to classical
Marxism. Originally published in 1848.

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Classical Marxism After Marx


Most of the Marxian theorists in the generation after Marx and Engels would play
important roles in their respective national Communist parties. For example, V. I. Lenin
(b. 1870d. 1924) founded the Bolshevik Party in Russia. Edward Bernstein (b. 1850d.
1932) was a leading theoretician in the Social-Democratic Party in Germany, the largest
Marxist party in the world before World War I. Trotsky (b. 1879d. 1940) would play a
leading role in the Russian Revolution. Rosa Luxemburg (b. 1871d. 1919) was an
influential voice of left-wing Marxism in the context of the Social-Democratic Parties of
both Poland and Germany. As such, the questions that the next generation engaged with
reflected world-historic developments absent in the period of Marx and Engels. The rise
of working-class struggles and Communist political parties put political and
programmatic questions on the theoretical agenda more than ever before (Lenin 1987,
Luxemburg 2004, Trotsky 1972, Trotsky 2007). The uneven development of capitalism
led to a re-theorization of the peasantry (Lenin 1987, Kautsky 1988). Hilferding 1981
provides a novel and influential theory of the role of finance in the evolution of
capitalism. Bernstein 1961 argues that the socialist movement should use a reformist
strategy relying on elections and the steady transformation of capitalism rather than
seeking a radical break through revolutionary upheavals. The outbreak of World War I
pushed Marxian intellectuals to theorize the process of imperialism (Lenin 1987,
Luxemburg 2004). The possibility of revolution led many to return to the revolutions of
the past for clues into the way forward (James 1989).

Bernstein, Eduard. 1961. Evolutionary socialism: A criticism and affirmation.


New York: Schocken.

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A founding statement of the social-democratic tradition within Marxism,
Bernstein argued that, in contrast to classical Marxisms insistence on the
inevitability of the collapse of capitalism as the context for a socialist revolution,
socialism could be built from within capitalism (and taking advantage of
democratic political institutions). This position would come to be known as the
revisionist thesis, and it was deeply controversial among German Marxists.
Originally published in 1899.

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Hilferding, Rudolf. 1981. Finance capital: A study of the latest phase of


capitalist development. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

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This work considers the relationship between the growing power of banks,
economic monopolization, and the use of state-military power to expand
markets. It contains almost every major point made by Bukharin and Lenin in
their respective writings on imperialism. Originally published in 1910.

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James, C. L. R. 1989. The black Jacobins. New York: Vintage.

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A brilliant Marxian account of how the French Revolution (1789) led to a


breakdown of French rule in the French colony of Saint Dominique. Using a
class-based account, the author shows how the revolution in Saint Dominique
produced the first free nation in the Caribbean in 1803, Haiti. Originally
published in 1938.

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Kautsky, Karl. 1988. The agrarian question. London: Zwan.

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This is an exposition of major changes in European and American agriculture.


Here, Kautsky analyzes situations in which the capitalist mode of production is
dominant but precapitalist forms of production are able to coexist. This work
counters Lenins The Development of Capitalism in Russia (Honolulu, HI:
University Press of the Pacific, 2004; first published in Russian in 1899), which
argues that capitalism was proletarianizing the Russian peasantry. Originally
published in 1899.

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Lenin, Vladimir I. 1987. Essential works of Lenin. Edited by Henry M.


Christman. New York: Dover.
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Key introductory readings are selections from What Is to Be Done?, which


begins to develop a theory of revolutionary organization; Imperialism, the
Highest Stage of Capitalism, which popularizes Hilferdings theory of
imperialism; and The State and Revolution, which argues that the capitalist
state cannot be captured but instead must be destroyed for revolution to be
successful. First published from 1929 to 1939.

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Luxemburg, Rosa. 2004. The Rosa Luxemburg reader. Edited by Peter Hudis
and Kevin B. Anderson. New York: Monthly Review Press.

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Luxemburgs key works in this volume are the selections from The
Accumulation of Capital, where she begins to develop a theory of imperialism
that articulates the mechanisms of primitive accumulation; Social Reform or
Revolution, where she argues against Bernsteins reform-oriented socialism; and
The Mass Strike, where she articulates a theory of spontaneous mass action. First
published from 1906 to 1913.

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Trotsky, Leon. 1972. The revolution betrayed: What is the Soviet Union and
where is it going? New York: Pathfinder.

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This book constitutes the core of Trotskys critique of Stalin and the Stalinist
model of socialism that was developing in the Soviet Union from the late 1920s
on. Originally published in 1936.

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Trotsky, Leon. 2007. The history of the Russian Revolution. Chicago:


Haymarket.

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This study of the Russian revolution is a key in the Marxian pantheon, offering a
challenging interpretation of the weakness of the tsarist regime and revolution
more broadly. Originally published in 1930.

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Marxism After World War II


Marxism moved in a variety of directions after World War II. One important
development was that ties between leading Marxist thinkers and the working-class
movements weakened. Most of the major contributions to Marxian theory were made by
academics, in many cases removed from political parties or social movements. This is a
decisive shift relative to earlier periods. Largely freed from direct connection to socialist
political movements, Marxist theorists pushed the boundaries of the Marxist tradition in
new and unexpected ways. In this section, we survey some of the major new directions
within Marxian theory: the so-called Western Marxist tradition, the new Marxist
historiography, structural Marxism, Marxist political economy, Marxism in the less
developed world, and Marxism feminism.

Western Marxism

Western Marxism refers to the group of intellectuals critical of classical Marxism who
sought to develop new ways of understanding how capitalism developed new cultural
underpinnings that tended to produce a kind of false consciousness among the
working class. The writings of the young Lukcs, Lukcs 1971, and Gramsci 1971s
prison writing provide foundational insights (with Gramscis influence being felt much
later than Lukcss). The most prominent members of this generation of Marxists were
associated with the Frankfurt School (e.g., Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, and
Herbert Marcuse). Wiggershaus 1995 provides an intellectual history of the Frankfurt
School, while Horkheimer and Adorno 2002 and Marcuse 1964 represent two classical
contributions. Habermas 1975 is sometimes viewed as a direct descendent of the
Frankfurt School, and his work on the legitimation crisis represents the most Marxian
of his considerable body of work. Jay 1984 provides an overview of the entire tradition
through the lens of the concept of totality, while Anderson 1976 develops a critique
from a standpoint of classical Marxism.

Anderson, Perry. 1976. Considerations on Western Marxism. London: NLB.

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A brilliant and searing indictment of the Western Marxist tradition, focused


around the theme of the abandonment of classical questions of class power and
socialist transformation in favor of a cultural critique of capitalism.

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Gramsci, Antonio. 1971. Selections from the prison notebooks. Edited by


Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Smith. New York: International.

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Gramsci develops the critical concept of hegemony to account for how and
why workers sometimes align themselves with capitalists or fascists. Gramsci
also provided a language for moving beyond the classical Marxist account of the
state as an instrument of bourgeois domination to an ensemble of ideological
and social institutions that helped to obscure the true nature of capitalism.
Originally published from 1929 to 1935.
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Habermas, Jrgen. 1975. Legitimation crisis. Boston: Beacon.

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Among the most political work of Habermass vast oeuvre, this text seeks to
fundamentally reshape classical Marxisms notion of crisis by arguing that while
contemporary capitalist regimes are capable of solving economic crises, they do
so at the expense of undermining the legitimacy of capitalism.

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Horkheimer, Max, and Theodor W. Adorno. 2002. Dialectic of enlightenment.


Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press.

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This classical work develops the critique of modernity. Among the most
influential publications of the Frankfurt School of critical theory, the authors
draw on a comparison of Nazi Germany and the American culture industry to
argue that reason has triumphed to the point of irrationality. Originally published
in 1947.

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Jay, Martin. 1984. Marxism and totality. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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A comprehensive overview of the writings of Western Marxists, organized


around the question of totality (the notion that social systems are
interconnected entities).

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Lukcs, Georg. 1971. History and class consciousness. Translated by Rodney


Livingstone. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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This book engages with the processes of rationalization and reification. In it,
Lukcs argues that all classes have a class consciousness that has to be actively
realized. According to his argument, the working class is the first class that has
the potential to achieve true class consciousness, because only it can actively
overcome capitalism. Originally published in German in 1923.

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Marcuse, Herbert. 1964. One-dimensional man: Studies in the ideology of
advanced industrial society. Boston: Beacon.

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Marcuses famous work offers a cultural criticism of capitalist society resting on


the idea that consumerism leads individuals to repress their desire for freedom in
favor of work. The working class has been absorbed into capitalism through the
spread of consumerism; Marcuse argued that only the truly marginalized, and
the young, could lead the revolutionary struggles of the future.

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Wiggershaus, Rolf. 1995. The Frankfurt School: Its history, theories, and
political significance. Translated by Michael Robertson. Cambridge, MA: MIT
Press.

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The standard account of the Frankfurt School. First published in German in


1986.

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The New Marxist Historiography

Marxism has, from its origins in the writings of Marx and Engels, had a deeply
historical component that seeks to theorize historical epochs in terms of material forces.
The mass uprisings of the 1960s pushed a new generation of historians to think through
a history from belowwhat came to be known as social history. Up to that point,
political and economic history was largely told from the top down, that is, from the
perspective of elites and their organizations. In shifting the emphasis, key historians
from both sides of the Atlantic developed a body of work that made common working
peopletheir work lives, their organizations, and their cultural and social experiences
the primary lens through which to formulate a new historiography. The new
historians produced a rich literature covering ancient history (Croix 1998), the transition
from feudalism to capitalism (Brenner 1985, Dobb 1947), the rise of the modern state
(Anderson 1974), the development and decline of workers organizations (Brou 2006,
Montgomery 1987), the culture of capitalism (Thompson 1966), and global history
(Hobsbawm 1996).

Anderson, Perry. 1974. Lineages of the absolutist state. London: NLB.

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This work is a key Marxist contribution to the scholarship on the rise of the
state. The author argues that the age of absolutism had its origins in the crisis of
feudalism. The threats of peasant uprisings in the countryside and merchant
dominance in the city drove the Western European nobility to strengthen the
Crown. This alliance provided the foundations for the rise of the absolutist state.
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Brenner, Robert. 1985. Agrarian class structure and economic development in


pre-industrial Europe. In The Brenner debate. Edited by T. H. Aston and C. H. E.
Philpin, 1063. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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This article is a critical contribution to the study of the transition from feudalism
to capitalism. In it, Brenner makes the case that the origins of capitalism lie in
changes in English agriculture.

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Brou, Pierre. 2006. The German Revolution, 19171923. Edited by Ian Birchall
and Brian Pierce. Translated by John Archer. Chicago: Haymarket.

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This is the definitive account of the failed workers revolution in Germany, the
largest workers uprising in an advanced capitalist country. The story is told
from the position of the revolutionaries themselves and their many, and
fracturing, organizations. Originally published in 1971.

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Croix, G. E. M. de Ste. 1998. The class struggle in the ancient Greek world:
From the archaic age to the Arab conquests. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press.

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Croix provides the most thorough historical materialist analysis of Antiquity to


date. It demonstrates that processes of class struggle were critical to the rise of
democracy in Greece and the decline of the Greek city-state in the Roman
Empire. Originally published in 1981.

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Dobb, Maurice. 1947. Studies in the development of capitalism. New York:


International.

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A pivotal history of the transition from feudalism to capitalism that finds the
roots of capitalism in England. Specifically, it argues that changes in the
structure of production and class relations account for the rapid development of
English capitalism.
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Hobsbawm, Eric. 1996. The age of extremes: A history of the world, 19141991.
New York: Vintage.

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Gives a global history of the short 20th century (19141991) from a Marxian
perspective.

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Montgomery, David. 1987. The fall of the house of labor: The workplace, the
state, and American labor activism, 18551925. New York: Cambridge Univ.
Press.

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This book is a key contribution to the study of the American working class from
the end of the Civil War to the mid-1920s. It argues that the decline of labor
power in the United States is associated with the loss of shop-floor control by
unions.

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Thompson, E. P. 1966. The making of the English working class. New York:
Vintage.

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Thompsons book is both pivotal and leading in the new Marxist historiography.
In it, he aims to show that the English working class, 17801832, made itself
and constituted its own class consciousness through traditional values of
solidarity, Methodism, and mutuality. The book can be read as a counter to
highly structural accounts of class. Originally published in 1963.

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Structuralist Marxism

For a brief period in the 1960s and 1970s, a brand of Marxism identified with the
French philosopher Louis Althusser gained wide interest in sociology. As part of the
larger structuralist movement in French philosophy and social science Althusser
(Althusser 2001, Althusser 2005; Althusser and Balibar 1971) provided a language for
scientific Marxism, dismissing the early critical writings of Marx in favor of the later,
mature Marx of Capital. Althussers best-known adherents, such as Poulantzas 1973,
went on to make major contributions to the study of politics. However, a devastating
critique of Althusser was launched by E. P. Thompson 1996. Anderson 1983 also offers
a unique critique and assessment of structuralist Marxism.
Althusser, Louis. 2001. Lenin and philosophy, and other essays. New York:
Monthly Review Press.

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Contains the important and controversial essay Ideology and Ideological State
Apparatus, which explores state power and the levels of society that reinforce it
(the family, education, and so on), along with other pieces on Leninist thought.
Originally published in 1971.

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Althusser, Louis. 2005. For Marx. London: Verso.

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Considered the founding text of structuralist Marxism. Most notable in this


collection of essays are Althussers ideas of an epistomological break between
the young and mature Marx and his concept of dialectics, which he terms
contradiction and overdetermination. Originally published in French in 1965.

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Althusser, Louis, and tienne Balibar. 1971. Reading capital. New York:
Pantheon.

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This edition contains essay contributions from both Althusser and Balibar. It
consists of an intensive rereading of Marxs Capital that seeks to reestablish
Marxism as a viable philosophical position. Originally published in French in
1968.

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Anderson, Perry. 1983. In the tracks of historical materialism. London: Verso.

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An intellectual history of the development of Marxism after the large-scale


social struggles of 1968. Anderson deals critically, but sympathetically, with
structuralist Marxism and its offshoots.

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Poulantzas, Nicos. 1973. Political power and social classes. London: NLB.

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A leading text in the structuralist Marxist literature, Poulantzas seeks to develop
a Marxian theory of the capitalist state. He introduces the concept of relative
autonomy of the state, which has remained central to Marxian debates in state
theory. Originally published in French in 1968.

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Thompson, E. P. 1996. The poverty of theory and other essays. London: Merlin
Press.

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A searing criticism of structuralist Marxism by the British Marxist historian.


Originally published in 1978.

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Marxist Political Economy

A group of scholars in the 1960s and 1970s began to reformulate and reapply Marxs
political economy to their contemporary contexts. These thinkers were forced to grapple
with questions and situations that Marx did not fully foresee or comprehend. Cardoso
and Vern 1979, Frank 1967, and Emmanuel 1972 broke heavily with orthodox Marxist
theories of imperialism to develop a new account of global inequality based on unequal
exchange. Baran 1957 and Baran and Sweezy 1966 also largely broke with orthodox
Marxist political economy to theorize the American capitalism of their ageone that
they believed was characterized by monopoly control by large firms. Mandel 1975
applies a more orthodox Marxist analysis to the new global context.

Baran, Paul A. 1957. The political economy of growth. New York: Monthly
Review Press.

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A classical approach to capitalist development and underdevelopment. It


demonstrates how surplus is used and reinvested.

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Baran, Paul A., and Paul M. Sweezy. 1966. Monopoly capital: An essay on the
American economic and social order. New York: Monthly Review Press.

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This book made a major contribution to Marxian political economy. In prior


work on capitalist accumulation, Marxian scholars assumed competition
between firms in their model. Baran and Sweezy, however, analyze capitalist
accumulation in the context of monopolization and do not rely on earlier
Marxian concepts such as surplus value.
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Cardoso, Fernando Henrique, and Enzo Faletto Verne. 1979. Dependency and
development in Latin America. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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Provides a periodization of Latin American economic development, focusing in


particular on the transition from the focused development of internal markets to
the rise of global trade in the postwar era. In the 1979 postscript, the authors
reexamine their original hypothesis in view of later developments. Cardoso
would later become the two-term president of Brazil. Originally published in
1966.

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Emmanuel, Arghiri. 1972. Unequal exchange: A study of the imperialism of


trade. London: NLB.

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This influential analysis of modern forms of imperialism argues that free trade
between capitalist countries is often unequal, to the systematic determinant of
poor countries. He goes on to argue that these unequal exchanges explain the
bulk of economic world inequality.

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Frank, Andre Gunder. 1967. Capitalism and underdevelopment in Latin


America: Historical studies of Chile and Brazil. New York: Monthly Review
Press.

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Argues that the key to understanding the plight of countries in the global
periphery is to look at their economic relationship with more developed
countries. Trade relations with wealthy capitalist countries have locked less
developed countries into economic activities that employ high levels of
exploitation and low wages in order to produce very cheap goods for consumers
of wealthier countries.

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Mandel, Ernest. 1975. Late capitalism. Revised ed. London: NLB.

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In this work, the author aims to characterize the main dimensions of the
capitalist accumulation of his time. Late capitalism, which is heavily reliant on
fluid flows in financial markets, advances beyond the two previous phases of
capitalist accumulation, market capitalism and monopoly capitalism. Mandel
offers a wide-reaching theory of the long waves of economic development that
draws heavily from Kondratieff. Originally published in 1972.

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Marxism in the Less Developed World

Marxist theory primarily developed in the West and as a theory of capitalism in its most
developed form. But Marxism was also drawn upon by Marxist thinkers elsewhere,
particularly in China (under Mao) and in response to the wave of revolutionary and
anticolonial struggles in Latin America and Africa. While Mao wrote on a range of
topics (Mao 1971) a number of key texts to be translated into English took on a very
practical and political nature. After all, anticolonial struggles and revolutions were
happening in less developed countries across the globe. Guevara 2006 drew on his own
experience as a leader of the Cuban revolution to write a book aimed at revolutionary
movements in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Debray 1967 is a pivotal work that
analyzes and synthesizes the prevailing strategic analyses of revolutionary movements
in Latin America. Fanon 1963 revolutionized both the practice and the theorizing of
Third World and black liberation movements. Finally, Freire 2006 the nature of
education and studies of pedagogy by challenging the view that the poor cannot use
education as an instrument of social change.

Debray, Rgis. 1967. Revolution in the revolution? New York: Grove Press.

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Considered the primer for revolutionary movements in less developed countries.

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Fanon, Franz. 1963. The wretched of the earth. New York: Grove Press.

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A canonical book in black liberation theory and actual black liberation and anti-
colonial struggles. Using a Marxian analysis, Fanon penetrates the culture of the
colonized, and offers some suggestions on how to navigate the path to liberation.
Originally published in 1961.

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Freire, Paulo. 2006. Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum.

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Using a Marxian framework, this proposes a new pedagogy in which the roles of
teacher and student are shifted in order to best effect change in society.
Originally published in 1976.
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Guevara, Che. 2006. Guerilla warfare. New York: Ocean Press.

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Draws out lessons from the Cuban Revolution for revolutionary movements in
other less developed countries, by the famed revolutionary leader. Originally
published in 1961.

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Mao Tsetung. 1971. Selected readings from the works of Mao Tsetung. Peking:
Foreign Languages Press.

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Offers a sampling of Maos large output of theoretical writings. Key selections


include, On Practice, On Contradiction, On the Correct Handling of
Contradictions among the People, and Where Do Correct Ideas Come From?

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Marxist Feminism

Classical Marxism paid some attention to the woman question, as it was known, but
provided little room for treating gender independently of class. In the 1970s, feminist
scholars challenged the neglect of gender and gendered dynamics in sociology and other
fields. A particularly interesting attempt to synthesize Marxist and feminist ideas
emerged, known as Marxist-feminist or, more commonly, socialist-feminism. The
theory was a striking attempt to build an integrated radical theory without reducing the
centrality of inequality to class. The classical statements were those of Mitchell 1966,
Rubin 1974, and Hartmann 1976, while Hartmann 1978 provides a classical assessment
of the unhappy marriage between Marxism and feminism. A collection of
contemporary debates motivated by Hartmanns essay can be found in Sargent 1978. A
later collection of writings on the socialist-feminism debate can be found in Hansen and
Philipson 1990. Jackson 1999 offers a more recent review.

Hansen, Karen V., and Ilene J. Philipson, eds. 1990. Women, class, and the
feminist imagination: A socialist-feminist reader. Philadelphia: Temple Univ.
Press.

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An excellent collection of writings by socialist-feminist scholars, including both


classical contributions, empirical efforts to test the theory, and some of the major
debates on central topics such as the labor market, family life, socialist-feminist
political organizations, and issues of race and gender.

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Hartmann, Heidi. 1976. Capitalism, patriarchy, and job segregation by sex.
Signs 1:137169.

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Argues that capitalist labor markets have been heavily shaped by the system of
patriarchy, in which women workers are systematically disadvantaged and
provide a body of low-wage workers.

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Hartmann, Heidi. 1978. The unhappy marriage of Marxism and feminism:


Towards a more progressive union. In Women and revolution: A discussion of
the unhappy marriage of Marxism and feminism. Edited by Lydia Sargent, 141.
Boston: South End.

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A classical essay that challenges the idea that Marxisms privileging of class
inequality can coexist in an emancipatory theory that takes gender inequality
seriously. Hartmann argues that class inequality and gender inequality are of
equal significance, and the intertwining of gender and class inequality produces
a dual system of oppression.

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Jackson, Stevi. 1999. Marxism and feminism. In Marxism and social science.
Edited by Andrew Gamble, David Marsh, and Tony Tant, 1134. London:
Macmillan.

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A more recent overview of the complicated relationship between feminist and


Marxist theory.

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Mitchell, Juliet. 1966. Women: The longest revolution. New Left Review 40:11
37.

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One of the earliest and classical statements of the problem of gender in the neo-
Marxist tradition. Engages a number of topics that go far beyond the classic
woman question, including sexuality and the problems of production and
reproduction. Available online by subscription.

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Rubin, Gayle. 1974. The traffic in women: Notes on the political economy of
sex. In Towards an anthropology of women. Edited by Rayna R. Reiter, 157
210. New York: Monthly Review Press.

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A classic anthropological essay that traces male domination to its historical roots
in the trafficking of women in premodern societies. Draws insights from
Engels, Levi-Strauss, and Freud to suggest some universal aspects of gender
inequality.

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Sargent, Lydia, ed. 1978. Women and revolution. Boston: South End.

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Contains a number of critical responses to Heidi Hartmanns landmark essay,


The Unhappy Marriage of Marxism and Feminism.

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Contemporary Neo-Marxian Sociology


The relationship between Marxism and sociology is a complex one, as noted earlier. A
significant segment of graduate students entering the discipline in the 1960s and 1970s,
in the context of social upheaval, embraced Marxism as a means to make sense of the
world and challenge reigning orthodoxies. While no major subfield was left untouched
by the Marxian revival in sociology, several subfields commanded the bulk of the
research. We summarize the major contributions of neo-Marxists in this section. These
included class structure and class analysis, political sociology, the sociology of work,
international political economy, cultural studies, and urban studies.

Overviews

Early surveys of Marxist sociology as it emerged in the Anglo-American world from the
1970s on can be found in Flacks 1982 and Burawoy 1982. A longer and more
contemporary view can be found in Burawoy and Wright 2002s sweeping statement,
authored by the two most famous North American Marxists. Good collections of essays
can be found in Shaw 1985; Bottomore and Goode 1983; and, most recently, Gamble, et
al. 1999.

Bottomore, Tom, and Patrick Goode, eds. 1983. Readings in Marxist sociology.
New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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This useful book of essays and excerpts highlights the core areas in which
Marxism has relevance for sociology. They include theory, social formations,
classes, politics, culture and ideology, development, imperialism, and socialism.

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Burawoy, Michael. 1982. Introduction: The resurgence of Marxism in American


sociology. In Special issue: Marxist inquiries: Studies of labor, class, and states.
Edited by Michael Burawoy and Theda Skocpol. American Journal of Sociology
88:S1S30.

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A superb and useful introduction to a unique collection of articles in a special


issue of one of the flagship journals of American sociology, at the high-water
mark of interest in Marxism in the Anglo-American sociology. Available online
for purchase or by subscription.

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Burawoy, Michael, and Erik Olin Wright. 2002. Sociological Marxism. In


Handbook of sociological theory. Edited by Jonathan Turner, 459486. New
York: Plenum.

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An attempt to capture the field of sociological Marxism as it stands, with a


particular focus on reconstructing the classical core and tracing through its
modern evolution by later Marxists (including the authors themselves).

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Flacks, Richard. 1982. Marxism and sociology. In The left academy: Marxist
scholarship on American campuses. Edited by Bertell Ollman and Edward
Vernoff, 952. New York: McGraw Hill.

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Another valuable survey of the state of Marxist sociology in the early 1980s.
Nicely conveys the excitement of that era.

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Gamble, Andrew, David Marsh, and Tony Tant, eds. 1999. Marxism and social
science. London: Macmillan.

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This edited volume is very wide in scope. It covers the relationship between
Marxism and a number of critical theoretical fields, such as postmodernity and
feminism. In addition, it explores the role of Marxist theory in understanding a
large number of substantive areas, such as the state, democracy, ecology, and
globalization.

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Shaw, Martin, ed. 1985. Marxist sociology revisited: Critical assessments.


London: Macmillan.

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A collection of essays assessing the state of the relationship between Marxism


and sociology, primarily in the Anglo-American world, in the mid-1980s.

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Marxian Class Structure and Analysis

The study of social class has been a central theme in the revival of Marxist sociology
since the 1970s. Wrights (Wright 1985, Wright 1997) work addresses the boundary
problem raised in classical Marxism by the rise of the middle class, while Gouldner
1979 advances a class analysis of the intelligentsia. Bonacich 1972 is a classical
treatment of the problem of divisions among the working class along ethnic lines. Offe
and Wiesenthal 1985 develops an argument that capitalist class actors have an inherent
organizational advantage over the poor. Wood 1986 criticizes the turn away from class
in the writings of post-Marxists. Katznelson 1981 tackles the question of American
exceptionalismthat is, why American workers appear to identify less with their class
than workers abroad.

Bonacich, Edna. 1972. A theory of ethnic antagonism: The split labor market.
American Sociological Review 37:547559.

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This important article argues that ethnic conflicts have class foundations.

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Gouldner, Alvin Ward. 1979. The future of intellectuals and the rise of the new
class. New York: Macmillan.

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Gouldner argues that the history of capitalism is one in which intellectuals, by


which he means professionals and managers as well the cultural intelligentsia
of writers, artists, and professors, have been gradually coming to assert their
power over the economic bourgeoisie. This new class is, in Gouldners view,
well on its way to displacing the old class (the bourgeoisie) as the ruling class
in the modern world.

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Katznelson, Ira. 1981. City trenches: Urban politics and the patterning of class
in the United States. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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This book broadly asks why the American experience of class is so unique. It
argues that American urban politics has been governed by a logic that stresses
ethnicity, race, and territoriality, rather than class.

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Offe, Claus, and Helmut Wiesenthal. 1985. Two logics of collective action. In
Disorganized capitalism: Contemporary transformations of work and politics.
Edited by Claus Offe, 170220. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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This article makes a critical contribution to the study of class and class
capacities. It argues that working people face much larger constraints on
collective action then their better-positioned counterpartsemployers.

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Wood, Ellen Meiksins. 1986. The retreat from class: A new true socialism.
London: NLB.

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This book provides a Marxian critique of post-Marxist theorists who have


sought to reconsider the primacy of class.

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Wright, Erik Olin. 1985. Classes. London: Verso.

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Wrights attempt to spell out a new model of the class location of individuals in
middle-class positions by distinguishing three types of assets (capital, skills,
organizational power) that individuals may possess, singularly or in
combination. Empirically tests the implications of the model with opinion and
income data from Sweden and the United States.

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Wright, Erik Olin. 1997. Class counts: Comparative studies in class analysis.
New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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Drawing on survey data from twelve countries, Wright offers a major


exploration of the impact of class location across a range of outcomes, such as
attitudes, family and friendship patterns, class and gender, and social mobility.

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Marxism and Political Sociology

The single most widely debated concept in the revival of Marxism in sociology is that
of the state or, more particularly, the capitalist state. Prior Marxian analysis treated the
state in largely functionalist terms, compelled to preserve capitalism. For neo-Marxian
sociologists, renewed interest in the state meant breaking out of the standard
functionalist view of the state. Barrow 1993 provides an overview and introduction. The
essays by Block 1987 in the 1970s and 1980s were a classical attempt to theorize the
conditions under which capitalist states could become autonomous from capitalist class
interests. Miliband 1969 provides the classical instrumentalist theory of the state.
Therborn 1978 develops a systematic typology of state and class relationships, while
Poulantzas 1978 argues that contemporary states are divided along class lines. The rise
of the welfare state has occasioned considerable debate among Marxists. Esping-
Andersen 1990 is the standard power resources model, highlighting the role of class
power in producing different types of welfare states, while OConnor 1973s classic
argument points to the revolutionary potential in welfare-state formation. Finally,
Lachmann 2000 points to the important role of conflicts between political and economic
elites in the transition from feudalism to capitalism and the rise of the state.

Barrow, Clyde. 1993. Critical theories of the state: Marxist, neo-Marxist, post-
Marxist. Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press.

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This book provides a useful overview of Marxist, neo-Marxist, and post-Marxist


theories of the state. The author develops a useful typology of radical theories of
the capitalist state that identifies critical areas of overlap and difference among
them.

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Block, Fred L. 1987. Revising state theory: Essays in politics and


postindustrialism. Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press.

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In the chapter The Ruling Class Does Not Rule: Notes on the Marxist Theory
of the State, the author provides the most innovative attempt to specify the
mechanisms that account for the relative autonomy of the state from capital. He
argues that the tendency for the state to act in the interests of employers is an
outcome of the struggle between three actors: capitalists, workers, and state
managers.

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Esping-Andersen, Gsta. 1990. The three worlds of welfare capitalism.


Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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This book provides a critical contribution to the study of welfare states in


advanced Western societies. Esping-Andersen argues that there are three major
types of welfare regimes that correspond to the particular histories of the
countries that support them.

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Lachmann, Richard. 2000. Capitalists in spite of themselves: Elite conflict and


economic transitions in early modern Europe. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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Develops an innovative account of the rise of the absolutist state and the
transition from capitalism to feudalism by focusing on conflicts within the elite:
landlords, clergy, officeholders, and kings. In the aftermath of the Reformation,
elites found themselves embracing capitalism in order to preserve their
privileges from rivals.

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Miliband, Ralph. 1969. The state in capitalist society. New York: Basic Books.

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This book constitutes the key instrumentalist account of the capitalist state. It
provides a thorough empirical account of the British state that seeks to show that
reforms are unlikely in contexts in which capitalist interest are so thoroughly
dominant. Miliband shows that in terms of their class origins, career trajectories,
and ideological dispositions, state bureaucrats tended willingly to ally with
capital.

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OConnor, James. 1973. The fiscal crisis of the state. New York: St. Martins
Press.

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Argues that the rise of the welfare state creates a set of societal demands for
benefits, which in turn leads to inevitably fiscal imbalances, which eventually
threaten the existence of capitalism itself.

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Poulantzas, Nicos. 1978. State, power, socialism. London: NLB.

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While he retains the analysis of the relative autonomy of the state, Poulantzass
later work breaks from his earlier structuralist Marxism that regarded the state as
only having economic, repressive, and ideological functions. Here he argues that
there is no pre-set form of the capitalist state and instead that the state is shaped
by class struggle.

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Therborn, Gran. 1978. What does the ruling class do when it rules? State
apparatuses and state power under feudalism, capitalism and socialism.
London: Verso.

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Develops a systematic typology of the critical differences between the state in


feudalist, capitalist, and socialist societies, with a special focus on the
differences in class power found under each.

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Marxism and the Sociology of Work

Marx wrote widely on the nature of work. However, prior to the neo-Marxist resurgence
in sociology, relatively few Marxists had taken up these themes; the predominant drift in
the study of industrial sociology was toward a much more positive (albeit not uncritical)
view of the labor process in contemporary capitalism. Optimism about shop-floor
satisfaction and class compromise pointed to by industrial sociology hardly captured the
underlying dynamics of persistent workplace conflict. Braverman 1974s pivotal work
largely reintroduced a critical analysis of shop-floor processes. Burawoy 1979 and
Edwards 1979 were largely responsible for incorporating and extending Braverman in
the academy. Both Lee 1998 and McKay 2006 built on Burawoys analysis to study
work life in less developed countries. Fantasia 1988s work asks about the historical
nature of class consciousness, and Seidman 1994 asks how class-oriented workers
movements are made under different historical conditions. Silvers recent contribution
(Silver 2003) puts work and labor conflict into a global and long-term perspective and
tries to identify some of the macro causes for the rise and fall of labor movements.

Braverman, Harry. 1974. Labor and monopoly capital: The degradation of work
in the twentieth century. New York: Monthly Review Press.
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This very influential work revitalized the study of the labor processes from a
Marxian perspective. Braverman argues that capitalism incrementally reduces a
workers control over the work process by deepening the division of labor and
separating the conception of work tasks from its execution.

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Burawoy, Michael. 1979. Manufacturing consent: Changes in the labor process


under monopoly capitalism. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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Uses ethnography of the shop-floor to explain a missing component of


Bravermans account: how is workers consciousness shaped at work? He finds a
collective striving among workers to achieve levels of production above 100
percent in a piece-rate system as the basis for status hierarchies in the shop,
which had the consequence of increasing antagonisms between workers while
decreasing conflict with management.

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Edwards, Richard. 1979. Contested terrain: The transformation of the


workplace in the twentieth century. New York: Basic Books.

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This work provides an analysis of the varieties of control at work in historical


terms. According to Edwards, the form control takes is largely governed by
workplace conflict and the economics of the firms operation. He identifies three
historically successive forms of shop-floor control: simple, technical, and
bureaucratic.

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Fantasia, Rick. 1988. Cultures of solidarity: Consciousness, action, and


contemporary American workers. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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This innovative work challenges the notion that American workers lack class
consciousness. Instead it shows the contingent and historical character of the
development of class consciousness.

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Lee, Ching Kwan. 1998. Gender and the South China miracle: Two worlds of
factory women. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.
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Lees study of the labor process shows how labor markets interact with gender to
create a distinct set of outcomes in two manufacturing firms in China. In one
case, a plant in Shenzhen, women workers are predominantly single and
migrant. In the other case, in Hong Kong, women workers are predominantly
married. According to Lee, these variations produce different management
strategies for control, constructions of gender, and forms of collective action.

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McKay, Steven C. 2006. Satanic mills or silicon islands? The politics of high-
tech production in the Philippines. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press.

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This book utilizes Burawoys framework in The Politics of Production (London:


Verso, 1985) to identify distinct types of work regimes in high-tech factories in
the Philippines but suggests critical variation in the logics of control depending
on the nature of the product that the firm manufactures (i.e., capital-intensive or
labor-intensive), the nature of production (i.e., complex or deskilled), and the
gendered dimensions of the labor pool that the factory draws on.

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Seidman, Gay W. 1994. Manufacturing militance: Workers movements in Brazil


and South Africa, 19701985. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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This comparative analysis of South African workers and Brazilian workers asks
how two countries that are so different could produce two labor movements
committed to the broader working class, as opposed to more narrow sectoral
interests. Seidmans study shows that state policies, which increased demand for
skilled workers but simultaneously degraded the positions of the skilled
alongside the nonskilled urban poor, generated general animosity toward the
state.

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Silver, Beverly. 2003. Forces of labor: Workers movements and globalization


since 1870. Cambridge studies in comparative politics. Cambridge, UK:
Cambridge Univ. Press.

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This spatially and temporally wide-ranging work argues that there is a long-term
pattern across the globe in which, as production expands, workers power
expands and labor unions eventually begin to develop and challenge for a greater
share of profits.
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Globalization and International Political Economy

Classical Marxists after Marx explicitly theorized processes of economic and political
globalization, paying special attention to the role of imperialism. However, with the rise
of Stalinism and socialism in one country and the decline of revolutionary movements
after the failed German revolution in 1923, Marxists wrote less and less about the global
dimension of capitalism. With the explosion of anticolonial struggles in Africa, Asia,
and Latin America in the 1960s, Marxist political activists increasingly considered the
role of the Third World. This interest helped drive a new generation of neo-Marxian
sociologists to interrogate the global dimension of capitalism. Two main currents
emerge in the literature: world-systems theory (Arrighi 1994, Arrighi and Silver 1999,
Wallerstein 1974) and orthodox Marxism (Brenner 1977, Brenner 2006, Harvey 2007,
Wood 2005). Brewer 1990 offers a particularly useful overview of Marxian theories of
international political economy and imperialism in particular.

Arrighi, Giovanni. 1994. The long twentieth century: Money, power, and the
origins of our times. London: Verso.

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This is a large study of global capitalism. It argues that recurring configurations


of business and state organizations lead systemic cycles of accumulation.
According to the author, these cycles take the form of large-scale expansions of
capitalism into new areas of the globe, capital reaching the limit of this
approach, and the subsequent transfer of capital into high finance.

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Arrighi, Giovanni, and Beverly J. Silver. 1999. Chaos and governance in the
modern world system. Minnesota: Univ. of Minnesota Press.

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In this book, the authors present a theory of the rise and fall of world hegemons.
According to the argument, financial expansions lead to declining strength of the
world hegemons power, resulting in global chaos, followed by a transformation
in the national bloc of business and state organizations that will emerge as the
new hegemonic power.

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Brenner, Robert. 1977. The origins of capitalist development: A critique of neo-


Smithian Marxism. New Left Review 104:2592.

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This is an extensive critique of world-systems theory and the dependency school
from an orthodox Marxist perspective. It is a major contribution to the debate
about global capitalism. Available online by subscription.

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Brenner, Robert. 2006. The economics of global turbulence: The advanced


capitalist economies from long boom to long downturn, 19452005. London:
Verso.

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This is a large-scale survey of the world economy from 1950 to the early 2000s.
It argues that the sources of capitalist crises on a global level are overproduction
and overcompetition. According to the author, both processes have been
responsible for the long-term crisis since the early 1970s.

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Brewer, Anthony. 1990. Marxist theories of imperialism: A critical survey. 2d


ed. London: Routledge.

DOI: 10.4324/9780203003817Save Citation Export Citation E-mail Citation

This overview provides a very useful introduction to the core Marxian


contributions to the study of imperialism. It is a must for those who are
interested in a Marxian approach to geopolitics.

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Harvey, David. 2007. A brief history of neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford Univ.


Press.

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This survey of global economic practice since the 1970s tells the story of the rise
and implementation of an approach to political and economic policy known as
neoliberalism.

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Wallerstein, Immanuel M. 1974. The modern world-system I: Capitalist


agriculture and the origins of the European world-economy in the sixteenth
century. New York: Academic.

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This book initiated a large research program around what came to be called
world-systems theory. The main argument is that the world is broken down into
different zones: the core, semiperiphery, and periphery. These zones exist in an
unequal and exploitative relationship because of unequal exchanges generated
through trade.

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Wood, Ellen Meiksins. 2005. Empire of capital. London: Verso.

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Wood offers a new theory of imperialism. According to the author, as distinct


from past historical experiences of empire, modern empire has come to reflect
the social relations that are at the core of capitalism.

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Marxism and Culture

In recent decades, building on the work of Western Marxism (see Western Marxism) but
also responding to the renewal of the subfield of cultural sociology, Marxist studies of
culture and cultural processes have bloomed. Williams 1978 provides an important early
study of the rise of the dominant cultural forms in the West, while his later work
(Williams 1983 provides an overview of, and offers new directions for, cultural
materialism. One strand of Marxist analysis of culture has been in the area of ideology;
Parekh 1982 provides a useful overview of Marxs theory of ideology. Harvey 1990 and
Jameson 1991 both offer strong critiques of the postmodernist turn in social theory.
Harris 1992 develops an account of Gramscis influence on cultural studies. Zukin 1989
offers a classical treatment of how the ebb and flow of capitalist dynamics open up new
spaces for the definition of what is chic. McChesney 2008, with the eye of a political
economist, analyzes the reasons the American media are dominated by corporate
interests.

Harris, David. 1992. From class struggle to the politics of pleasure: The effects
of Gramscianism on cultural studies. New York: Routledge.

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A study of the influence of Gramsci on cultural studies, ranging from youth


movements to the mass media and the cultural politics of the contemporary state.

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Harvey, David. 1990. The condition of postmodernity: An inquiry into the


origins of cultural change. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.

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This offers an innovative critique of postmodernism. It argues that it is a cultural


effect of late capitalism. A global economy that compresses time and space by
shifting from Fordist production methods to more flexible and global methods
also radically transforms culture.

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Jameson, Fredric. 1991. Postmodernism, or, the cultural logic of late capitalism.
Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press.

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A critique of postmodernism from a Marxian perspective. This work started with


a famous and widely discussed, 1984 article in the New Left Review. It links
cultural changes and postmodernism to the rise of multinational capitalism.

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McChesney, Robert. 2008. The political economy of the media: Enduring issues,
emerging dilemmas. New York: Monthly Review Press.

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Demonstrates how business and political elites mobilize their resources in order
to consolidate control over media institutions and how this undermines
democracy.

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Parekh, Bhikhu. 1982. Marxs theory of ideology. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins


Univ. Press.

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A systematic attempt at understanding the concept of ideology within Marxs


larger theoretical vision. It situates Marxs understanding of ideology within his
understanding of truth and objectivity.

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Williams, Raymond. 1978. Marxism and literature. London: Oxford Univ. Press.

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Extends the authors earlier work by analyzing major Marxist contributions to


the study of literature. The author develops his own account by articulating a
theory of cultural materialism.

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Williams, Raymond. 1983. Culture & society: 17801950. New York: Columbia
Univ. Press.

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A major Marxist contribution to grapple with the emerging questions in the


sociology culture. It explores how the concept of culture developed in the West
out of the Industrial Revolution, rooting these developments in class dynamics.
Originally published in 1958.

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Zukin, Sharon. 1989. Loft living: Culture and capital in urban change. New
Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Univ. Press.

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This study of the transformation of lower Manhattan from a derelict former


industrial zone into one of the most expensive and chic places to live in the
world links cultural change with the political economy of cultural forms.

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Marxism and Urban Studies

In the 1970s, Marxist scholars began to take seriously both how cities were run and the
issues of space. Harvey 2009 and Castells 1979 were early pioneers of Marxian works
that grappled with the nature of the city. Harvey 1989 provides a useful overview of his
large output concerning the city. Lefebvre 1992 argues that modes of production also
corresponded to certain social uses of space. More recently, Davis 2006 identifies the
materialist tools for understanding the class history of a city. Smith 1996 theorizes the
processes of gentrification, and Wacquant 2007 identifies the relationship between
capitalist development and marginalization of disadvantaged subgroups. Finally,
Brenner 2004 identifies how state power and the subnational level have changed since
the 1970s.

Brenner, Neil. 2004. New state spaces: Urban governance and the rescaling of
statehood. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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Whereas most studies of the state focus on the national or transnational level,
this book looks at the transformation of subnational state spaces, such as cities,
since the 1970s. He argues that state power has been drastically rescaled.

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Castells, Manuel. 1979. The urban question. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
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A classic in Marxian urban studies. This utilizes an Althusserian framework to


understand the function of cities in social, symbolic, and economic terms.
Originally published in 1972.

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Davis, Mike. 2006. City of quartz: Excavating the future in Los Angeles.
London: Verso.

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Using a Marxian framework, the author reconstructs the history of Los Angeles.
Originally published in 1991.

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Harvey, David. 1989. The urban experience. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press.

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An introduction to Harveys influential work on urbanism.

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Harvey, David. 2009. Social justice and the city. Athens: Univ. of Georgia Press.

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Probably the leading figure in the new Marxian urbanists. This major
contribution identifies the material forces that produce cities, urban planning,
and policy. It asks if there is a relationship between social justice and space,
answering with an affirmative. Originally published in 1973.

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Lefebvre, Henri. 1992. The production of space. Translated by Donald


Nicholson-Smith. Oxford: Blackwell.

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This book widened the scope of Marxist theory into the realm of space and has
deeply influenced contemporary urban theory. In it, Lefebvre contends that
space is a social product and that there are many modes of production of space.
Originally published in 1974.

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Smith, Neil. 1996. The new urban frontier: Gentrification and the revanchist
city. London: Routledge.

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This book theorizes the processes of urban gentrification.

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Wacquant, Loc. 2007. Urban outcasts: Towards sociology of advanced


marginality. Cambridge, MA: Polity.

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This ties the relationship of advanced capitalist development to urban


marginalization of American blacks and French immigrants in the banlieue. An
influential work in critical urban studies that places a heavy emphasis on the
role of capitalism in inequality.

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New Directions in Marxian Social Science


As Communism crumbled in the Soviet Union and eastern Europe in the late 1980s, a
wave of reassessments of the Marxist project appeared. These can be grouped into four
broad categories: post-Marxism, analytical Marxism, utopian radical Marxism, and
works that specifically sought to reassess the Soviet experiment. Therborn 2008
provides a general and critical survey of the trajectory of Marxism and the post-Marxist
approaches that branched off it.

Therborn, Gran. 2008. From Marxism to post-Marxism? London: Verso.

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A survey covering the recent trajectory of Marxist theory and social science
since the fall of Communism, with a chapter devoted to emerging trends
including many of the ones identified in the section.

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Post-Marxism

In the context of declining social movement in the late 1970s, a new group of radical
thinkers drastically shifted away from the economic and class-based framework of
Marxism. On the one hand, these post-Marxists came to see themselves in partial
argument with Marxian theory (Bourdieu 1984, Laclau and Mouffe 2001). On the other
hand, they more and more incorporated ideas from psychoanalysis (iek 2009),
cultural studies (Hardt and Negri 2000, Robinson 2000), and postmodernism (Derrida
2006). This group of thinkers contributed to the broader cultural turn in history and
the social sciences in the late 1980s and 1990s.

Bourdieu, Pierre. 1984. Distinction: A social critique of the judgement of taste.


Translated by Richard Nice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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The great French sociologist has a long and complicated relationship with
Marxism. In particular, one of the guiding themes of Bourdieus work has been
the role of class reproduction, that is, how children of different classes have
great difficulty escaping their class of origin. In this classical work, Bourdieu
argues that cultural tastes are defined by and reinforce power relationships in
society. Class is an important determinant for cultural practice. Originally
published in 1979.

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Derrida, Jacques. 2006. Specters of Marx: The state of debt, the work of
mourning and the new International. Translated by Peggy Kamuf. London:
Routledge.

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Derridas first serious statement on Marx. This poses a theory of deconstruction


that posits the possibility of many Marxisms. Originally published in 1993.

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Hardt, Michael, and Antonio Negri. 2000. Empire. Cambridge, MA: Harvard
Univ. Press.

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Argues that while classical colonialism and the state have withered away, a new
empire has taken its place. According to the authors only the multitude can
challenge the diffuse web of sociopolitical forces that now covers the globe.

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Laclau, Ernesto, and Chantal Mouffe. 2001. Hegemony and socialist strategy. 2d
ed. London: Verso.

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A pivotal work in post-Marxism. This book traces the discursive roots of class
and subverts the primacy of economic relations in the Marxian framework.
Originally published in 1985.
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Robinson, Cedric J. 2000. Black Marxism: The making of the black radical
tradition. Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press.

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Not a part of the post-Marxist tradition per se. However, this work challenges
the Marxian emancipatory framework as an unsubstantial way to understand
black people and black experiences. The author argues that a critical analysis of
the history of black radicalism must be traced to the traditions of Africa and the
specific experiences of blacks in the West. Originally published in 1983.

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iek, Slavoj. 2009. The sublime object of ideology. The Essential iek.
London: Verso.

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A post-Marxist take on the concept and process of ideology. Originally


published in 1989.

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Analytical Marxism

Analytical Marxism developed as an alternative to and critique of existing dialectical


Marxism and post-Marxism in the 1980s. Its aim was to revitalize Marxism by
emphasizing clarity and rigor in constructing social theories and historical explanations
concerning subjects that carried a lot of ideological baggage. In particular, the tools of
contemporary analytical philosophy (Cohen 2000) and neoclassical economics (Roemer
1982) were brought to bear in justifying Marxian understandings. A number of the most
well-known analytical Marxist works applied rational choice theory to Marxism,
rejecting its holistic assumptions; see especially Przeworski 1985 and Elster 1985.
Collections of analytical Marxist writings can be found in Roemer 1986 and Carver and
Thomas 1995, while Mayer 1994 provides an overview and critique.

Carver, Terrell, and Paul Thomas, eds. 1995. Rational choice Marxism.
University Park: Pennsylvania Univ. Press.

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This short collection includes founding essays of analytical Marxism such as,
Wrights What is Analytical Marxism? and Carlins Rational Choice
Marxism. It also includes critical responses by Michael Burawoy, Ellen
Meiksins Wood, and Michael Goldfield, among others.

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Cohen, G. A. 2000. Karl Marxs theory of history: A defence. Princeton, NJ:
Princeton Univ. Press.

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This is the founding text of analytical Marxism. Here, Cohen attempts nothing
short of defending historical materialism using the tools of analytical
philosophy. Originally published in 1978.

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Elster, Jon. 1985. Making sense of Marx. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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Using the analytic tools of contemporary social science and philosophy of the
time, Elster tries to assess what is viable in Marxs system. In conclusion, he
argues for the need for a microfoundation of social action while criticizing
functionalism and teleology in Marx.

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Mayer, Thomas F. 1994. Analytical Marxism. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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An overview and critique of the major works of the analytical Marxist group.

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Przeworski, Adam. 1985. Capitalism and social democracy. New York:


Cambridge Univ. Press.

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Using rational choice assumptions, this book explores socialist strategies. It


shows that workers have incentives in the maintenance of capitalism in a way
that undermines revolutionary agendas. Reform strategies also face electoral
limitations because of the relatively small size of the working class.

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Roemer, John. 1982. A general theory of exploitation and class. New York:
Cambridge Univ. Press.

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This book uses game theory and neoclassical economics to articulate a theory of
exploitation. Against Marxist orthodoxies, it argues that a labor theory of value
is not necessary to explain class and exploitation.

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Roemer, John, ed. 1986. Analytical Marxism. Studies in Marxism and social
theory. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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A key edited work containing examples of the major writings of the analytical
Marxists.

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Utopian Radical Marxism

Following the collapse of state socialism, a number of leading Marxists turned to


utopian investigations. In their survey of sociological Marxism, Burawoy and Wright
2002 (see Contemporary Neo-Marxian Sociology) urge both theoretical and empirical
investigations of real utopias, as Wright 2010, the leader in the field, called them. A
number of thinkers sought to develop blueprints for alternatives to capitalism, such as
participatory economics (Albert 2003) or market socialism (Roemer 1994). Others
identified institutional changes such as basic income (Van Parijs 1992) or labor
exchange networks (Offee and Heintz 1992). Still others have emphasized the
importance of thinking about alternatives in a context of historic defeat for the left
(Harvey 2000, Wallerstein 1998). On balance, this current of scholarship emphasizes the
need for radical social science to think critically about what concrete alternatives to
capitalism would be like.

Albert, Michael. 2003. Parecon: Life after capitalism. London: Verso.

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Lays out a framework for participatory economics as an alternative to


capitalism. The framework is built on the ideal values of democracy, solidarity,
equity, and diversity.

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Harvey, David A. 2000. Spaces of hope. Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univ. Press.

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Through a study of the city, this book argues that we can and indeed must use
utopian imaginations that challenge the idea that there is no alternative to
capitalism. Harvey poses an alternative, which he terms dialectical utopianism.
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Offe, Claus, and Rolf Heintze. 1992. Beyond employment: Time, work, and the
informal economy. Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press.

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Explores labor exchange networks as an alternative to conventional labor


markets.

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Roemer, John. 1994. A future for socialism. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ.
Press.

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The fall of the Soviet Union raised doubts about the viability of state socialism.
One alternative that has long engaged some Marxian scholars has been the idea
of market socialism, the development of a socialist model that still relies
heavily on market mechanisms of distribution. This book is the major
contribution to that debate.

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Van Parijs, Philippe, ed. 1992. Arguing for basic income: Ethical foundations
for a radical reform. London: Verso.

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Contributors John Baker, Brian Barry, Alan Carling, Michael Freeden, Robert
Goodin, Andre Gorz, Bill Jordan, Richard Norman, Claus Offe, Guy Standing,
Hillel Steiner, and Philippe Van Parijs debate the need for a basic universal
income.

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Wallerstein, Immanuel. 1998. Utopistic, or historical choices of the twenty-first


century. New York: New Press.

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Poses ideas about the worlds future in light of the history of the 20th century.

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Wright, Erik Olin. 2010. Envisioning real utopias. London: Verso.

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The leading figure among the recent trend in radical utopian studies, Wright has
sponsored a series of collective works advocating new forms of utopian
thinking. This represents a culmination of that project. It develops a framework
for understanding a variety of concrete and emancipator alternatives to
capitalism.

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Reassessing the Socialist Experience

The collapse of the socialist project occasioned both reassessments of what happened
and hard thinking about the implications for the future of Marxism. Blackburn 1991
contains a major set of essays by leading Marxist scholars and thinkers reassessing the
future of socialism in the wake of the collapse of Communism in eastern Europe.
Kornai 1992 and Burawoy and Luccs 1994 provide classical treatments of the inner
workings of the state socialist economy. Eyal et al. 1998 develops a class analysis of the
pathways out of state socialism. Kharkhordin 1999 offers a remarkable post-Marxist and
Foucaultian treatment of the cultural life of Soviet Communism. Linden 2009 provides
a critical and comprehensive overview of Marxist debates on the nature of the Soviet
Union since 1917.

Blackburn, Robin, ed. 1991. After the fall: The failure of Communism and the
future of socialism. London: Verso.

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Written in the aftermath of the 1989 upheaval, this collection includes essays by
such luminaries as Eric Hobsbawm, Jrgen Habermas, E.P. Thompson, Ralph
Miliband, Fredric Jameson, Gran Therborn, and Norberto Bobbio.

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Burawoy, Michael, and Jnos Lukcs. 1994. The radiant past: Ideology and
reality in Hungarys road to capitalism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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Based on studies in both the machine and steel industries in Hungary between
1983 and 1990, the authors consider the transition from socialism to capitalism
from the viewpoint of the working class.

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Eyal, Gil, Ivn Szelnyi, and Eleanor Townsley. 1998. Making capitalism
without capitalists: Class formation and elite struggles in post-Communist
central Europe. London: Verso.

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A novel approach to the transition from socialism to capitalism in post-
communist Central Europe. It shows how capitalism emerged without actual
capitalists.

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Kharkhordin, Oleg. 1999. The collective and the individual in Russia: A study of
practices. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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A study of how Soviet Communism relied on public rituals of self-examination


and critique that have no parallel in modern Western societies. The system of
societal surveillance, critical to the perpetuation of party rule, found its firmest
footing in Russia because it could draw on Russian orthodox cultural traditions.

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Kornai, Jnos. 1992. The socialist system: The political economy of


Communism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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The classical work on the political economy of socialism, emphasizing the


economics of scarcity as a critical (and ultimately social) aspect of the failure
of socialist economies to keep pace with their capitalist competitors.

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Linden, Marcel van der. 2009. Western Marxism and the Soviet Union: A survey
of critical theories and debates since 1917. Chicago: Haymarket.

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This text provides a critical overview of debates among Marxists on the nature
of the USSR since 1917. Originally published in 2007.

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Critiques
Marxism as both a system of thought, and as the foundation for Soviet-style
Communism, has generated an immense critical literature, both in the academy and
outside of it. In this section, we identify a few of the most important such critiques, as
well as those that have been especially important for sociology. Philosophical criticisms
of Marxism can be found in Kolakowski 2008 and Walicki 1995. Bell 2000 and
Selznick 1952 provide sociologically grounded critiques. Gouldner 1985 focuses on the
contradictions in Marxism as a movement of intellectuals but claiming to speak for the
working class. Van den Berg 1988 criticizes neo-Marxian theories of politics and the
state.

Bell, Daniel. 2000. The end of ideology: On the exhaustion of political ideas in
the fifties. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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Bell argues that the demise of Marxism as a critical challenger to capitalism


heralds the beginnings of an era in which political controversy will concern
fewer global questions. Although sometimes mistakenly read as implying that
all conflict will disappear, Bells essay in fact provides a sociologically informed
critique of the Marxist tradition. The new edition contains a useful introduction
by David Plotke that situates Bells contribution alongside other critical
assessments of Marxism. Originally published in 1960.

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Gouldner, Alvin Ward. 1985. Against fragmentation: The origins of Marxism


and the sociology of intellectuals. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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This explains the rise of Marxism as rooted in the interests of middle-class


intellectuals, not the working class. Nearly all of the Marxist leaders were the
products of middle-class upbringings with no direct connection to the working
class. As a consequence, Gouldner argues, Marxisms dirty little secret is that
it was never a working-class movement to begin with.

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Kolakowski, Leszak. 2008. Main currents of Marxism: The founders, the golden
age, the breakdown. Vols. IIII. New York: Norton.

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An outstanding philosophical case against Marxism. This is considered the


definitive work. Originally published in 1978.

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Selznick, Philip. 1952. The organizational weapon: A study of Bolshevik


strategy and tactics. Santa Monica: Rand.

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A critique of Marxist strategies for seizing control of organizations, in some


cases non-Marxist, by use of a particular set of tactics that undermine internal
democracy.
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Van den Berg, Axel. 1988. The immanent utopia: From Marxism on the state to
the state of Marxism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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A comprehensive critique of the Marxist theory of the state, beginning with


Marx and Engels through the work of Poulantzas and the revival of Marxist state
theory in the 1970s.

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Walicki, Andrzej. 1995. Marxism and the leap to the kingdom of freedom: The
rise and fall of the Communist utopia. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press.

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Monumental study arguing that the seeds of the Communist distortion of Marxs
emancipatory vision can in fact be traced to the anomalies and assumptions of
the classical writings.

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