Sociology Index


Economic Determinism is a form of determinism that explains social structure and culture as a product of the social and technical organization of economic life. Karl Marx has been described, many claim incorrectly, as an economic determinist.

Marx and Economic Determinism 
Friends and enemies of Marx have caricatured his economic interpretation of history. With historical examples we show how Marx used his economic variables, technology, productive forces, and mode of production, in understanding the evolution of society. Was Marx a technological determinist?

What does it mean to say that the economic base explains the superstructure "in the last analysis"?

Does Marx's model of economic change help us to understand the history of ancient classical civilization? Is the materialist conception of history a theory or a method? - Donald Hodges, Ross Gandy, People's Research Center, Mexico.

Jean-Paul Sartre on Economics 
Jean-Paul Sartre rejected the notion of 'economic determinism' and embraced the notion of 'conditional freedom' in the realm of economics. - Nader Nazmi, Department of Economics, Lake Forest College, Lake Forest, IL 60045. 
It is shown that Sartre studied both classical and Marxian economics and offered insightful comments on both. Not surprisingly, Sartre identified more with Marxian economics and criticized classical and neoclassical economics. Sartre could not envision human beings whose decisions and activities were solely determined by economic laws. He rejected the notion of 'economic determinism' and embraced the notion of 'conditional freedom' in the realm of economics.

Economic Determinism and the Ottoman Greek Community
Ross A. Rearick, Dr. Cole Woodcox, Faculty Mentor 
This paper, through the use of historic and academic sources, attempts to shed light on the phenomenon of religious tolerance within the Ottoman Empire specifically towards the Ottoman Greek community. In addition to the simple informative aspect, the case will be made that the history of the city of Constantinople and, later, Istanbul cannot be examined without including this vital and influential group of entrepreneurs.

A critique of the Engels-Soviet version of Marxian economic determinism 
James P. Scanlan
Abstract In softening Marx' economic determinism, Engels appears to have rescued it from absurdity. In fact, he has condemned it to vacuity: it seems to explain everything, while in fact explaining nothing.

Lifelong Learning and the Limitations of Economic Determinism. 
Authors: Bagnall, Richard G. 
Abstract: Analysis of economic determinist discourses about lifelong learning finds progressive, liberatory viewpoints marginalized or excluded. Economic discourse lacks social vision and commitment to equity and commodifies education as a private good. Educators with liberatory views must point the way to culturally progressive change. -

Varieties of Economic Determinism 
Reviewed Work(s): 
Marx's Theory of History. by William H. Shaw 
Karl Marx's Theory of History: A Defence. by Gerald A. Cohen 
Marxism and Class Theory: A Bourgeois Critique. by Frank Parkin 
Rereading "Capital". by Ben Fine, Laurence Harris 
Review author[s]: Donald Hodges, Ross Gandy
The Journal of Economic History, Vol. 40, No. 2 (Jun., 1980), pp. 373-376 -

Techno-Economic Determinism and the Work of Marx on Pre-Capitalist Societies 
Josep R. Llobera - Man, New Series, Vol. 14, No. 2 (Jun., 1979), pp. 249-270 doi:10.2307/2801566
Abstract: This article challenges the received belief that Marx's conception of history can be reduced to techno-economic determinism. To that effect, it considers the context in which this particular interpretation of the Marxian social totality appeared and shows its lasting influence in two anthropological traditions. Then it considers the extent to which the Marxian texts vouch for such an interpretation. Finally, with reference to the recently published work of Marx on primitive society, it argues that his explanations are free from techno-economic determinism.

Economic Determinism and the Natural and Mathematical Sciences - Paul Lafargue 1906
Source: Social Democrat, Vol. 10, no. 3, March 1906, pp. 137-145; - Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.
"I may remark, in conclusion, that Marx did not present economic determinism as a doctrine, but as a tool for historical research, valuable only according to the ability of him who uses it. In his hands it has given us the theory of the class struggle, which explains the political history of human society. If after an essay with economic determinism Bax finds it defective, it is because, like all metaphysicians, he has been unskilful in applying it, and, like the bad workman, he ascribes his own want of skill to the tools."

Economic determinism: a model of the political economy of medical care. - Helt EH. - 1: International Journal Health Serv. 1973;3(3):475-85

The political economy of the welfare state in developed capitalist countries
Navarro V. - Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins University, USA.
The article analyzes the social, economic, and political changes taking place in developed capitalist countries that are affecting their welfare states, in particular the changes in the family, in people's life cycles, in economic and social structures, and, most importantly, in the political contexts. The author shows how these changes take place and how the ways in which various countries respond to them depend mainly on the correlation of forces and their expression in the political space. The dominant theoretical frame assumes that all governments, regardless of their political coloration, are forced to follow the same policies because of the need to be competitive in the globalized economy, where international markets determine what governments can and must do. Questioning this economic determinism, the article recovers the importance of politics, putting politics at the center of the explanation of what is happening in the welfare states of the developed capitalist countries, including the neoliberal aggression against them.