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economic determinism


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The thesis, as advanced by Marx and Engels, that economic factors underlie all of society's decisions. The social relations specific to a particular mode of production are said to structure social relations between classes, underpinning the legal and political systems. This implies that all political, cultural, and social life can be predicted from the prevailing mode of production. This extreme view has been severely criticized as it denies the existence of free will and individual independence. A more moderate view sees the relations of production as a constraint on the ways in which individuals and superstructures can develop, ‘but once the chains of causality anchoring consciousness and value to collective production of material goods are broken, as they are in “humanist” Marxism, the theory loses much of its effective explanatory edge’ (Duncan (2005) PHG29, 479).

Subjects: Earth Sciences and Geography — Sociology.


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