Chapter

Evolutionary social progress, 1762–1848

John Toye

in The Many Faces of Socioeconomic Change

Published in print September 2017 | ISBN: 9780198723349
Published online October 2017 | e-ISBN: 9780191789786 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780198723349.003.0002
Evolutionary social progress, 1762–1848

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Early travellers’ accounts of the lifestyles of native Americans inspired Adam Smith to create the first model of human socioeconomic progress. Each of the four stages of progressive change were based on a distinctive mode of subsistence, but the transaction between stages was explained poorly. The advent of the Industrial Revolution provoked Karl Marx to update this model by drawing on Guizot’s history of medieval class conflict as the mechanism of transition in a universal scheme of evolutionary stages of the mode of production and their distinctive methods of labour exploitation. This was the basis of Marx’s claim to have done for social science what Darwin had done for evolutionary theory in the natural sciences.

Keywords: model; stages; transition; subsistence; class conflict; production; labour

Chapter.  6845 words. 

Subjects: Economic Development and Growth

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