Karl Marx on Society and Social Change: With Selections by Friedrich Engels

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University of Chicago Press, 1973 - Philosophy - 206 pages
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This volume presents those writings of Marx that best reveal his contribution to sociology, particularly to the theory of society and social change. The editor, Neil J. Smelser, has divided these selections into three topical sections and has also included works by Friedrich Engels.

The first section, "The Structure of Society," contains Marx's writings on the material basis of classes, the basis of the state, and the basis of the family. Among the writings included in this section are Marx's well-known summary from the Preface of A Contribution to a Critique of Political Economy and his equally famous observations on the functional significance of religion in relation to politics.

The second section is titled "The Sweep of Historical Change." The first selection here contains Marx's first statement of the main precapitalist forms of production. The second selection focuses on capitalism, its contradictions, and its impending destruction. Two brief final selections treat the nature of communism, particularly its freedom from the kinds of contradictions that have plagued all earlier forms of societies.

The last section, "The Mechanisms of Change," reproduces several parts of Marx's analysis of the mechanisms by which contradictions develop in capitalism and generate group conflicts. Included is an analysis of competition and its effects on the various classes, a discussion of economic crises and their effects on workers, and Marx's presentation of the historical specifics of the class struggle.

In his comprehensive Introduction to the selections, Professor Smelser provides a biography of Marx, indentifies the various intellectual traditions which formed the background for Marx's writings, and discusses the selections which follow. The editor describes Marx's conception of society as a social system, the differences between functionalism and Marx's theories, and the dynamics of economic and political change as analyzed by Marx.

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Material Basis of Society
The Basis of Consciousness
The Basis of Religion
The Basis of Classes
The Basis of the State
The Basis of the Family
II The Effects of Machinery on the Family Life of the Factory Worker
Family Life in the Domestic Industries
Competition and Its Effects on the Various Classes
The Capitalists Search for Economies and the Effects of Economies on Labor
Capital Accumulation and the Creation of an Industrial Reserve Army
Economic Crises and Their Effects on Workers
The Internationalization of Capitalism and Its Ramifications
II China
The Historical Specifics of the Class Struggle
II Class and Political Conflict in France 184851

IV The Family under Capitalism and Communism
Precapitalist States of Development
Capitalisms Conquest
The Nature of Communism
III Class and Political Conflict in Germany 184851
The Transition to Communist Society

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About the author (1973)

Neil J. Smelser is Director of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford.

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