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Marx and the Concept of a Social Formation

Burns, Tony



This paper discusses the significance of the concept of a social formation for historical materialism. It argues that the concept is wrongly thought to be associated uniquely with the writings of Louis Althusser and with structuralist Marxism. It can be found in the writings of Marx himself, as well as those of Lenin, and is central to an adequate understanding of classical or orthodox Marxism. To illustrate its importance the paper shows how the concept may be used to shed new light on the debate around the transition from feudalism to capitalism.


Burns, T. (in press). Marx and the Concept of a Social Formation. Historical Materialism,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 14, 2022
Deposit Date Apr 21, 2021
Journal Historical Materialism: Research in Critical Marxist Theory
Print ISSN 1465-4466
Electronic ISSN 1569-206X
Publisher Brill Academic Publishers
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Marxism; Social Formation; Mode of Production; Historical Materialism; Materialist Conception of History; Transition Debate
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