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Eric Olin Wright

(b. 1947)


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(1947–)

American*Marxistsociologist. Born in Kansas, Wright did undergraduate studies at Harvard and Oxford. He completed a PhD in sociology at Berkeley in 1976. He then took a position at the University of Wisconsin, where he has remained ever since. As is clear from the list of his principal publications, for most of his career Wright's research has focused on the classical Marxist problematic of class—e.g. Class, Crisis and the State (1978), Classes (1985), Class Counts (2000), and Approaches to Class Analysis (2009)—but late in his career he expanded his view to take in the question of utopia. Wright's work tries to resolve the two key problems in Marxism: (i) the apparently anomalous existence of a middle class who are neither owners of the means of production, nor completely at the mercy of the owners of the means of production; (ii) the conflict between class struggle and technological determinism as the principle factors driving history. Wright resolves the first problem by treating the middle class as a contradictory class and the latter by arguing that technological innovation gives impetus to history, but doesn't drive it because ultimately technology has to be adopted by humans for it to be effective.

(i) the apparently anomalous existence of a middle class who are neither owners of the means of production, nor completely at the mercy of the owners of the means of production; (ii) the conflict between class struggle and technological determinism as the principle factors driving history

Further Reading:

A. Milner Class (1999).

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies.


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