Part of the SAGE Social Thinkers series, this brief and clearly–written book provides a concise introduction to the work, life, and influences of Karl Marx, one of the most revered, reviled, and misunderstood figures in modern history. The book serves as an excellent introduction to the full range of Marx’s major themes—alienation, economics, social class, capitalism, communism, materialism, environmental sustainability—and considers the extent to which they are relevant today. It is ideal for use as a self-contained volume or in conjunction with other sociological theory textbooks.

Marx’s Materialism

Marx’s Materialism

This chapter will introduce the fundamental outlook of Marx’s social analysis, which is his theory of materialism. Marx’s materialist theory forms the basis for his explanations of how individuals interact within society and how societies develop and provides the ground for his critique of capitalism and his advocacy of communism. Marx’s materialist conception of reality was a means for him to understand human engagement with the natural and social worlds. If we understand why Marx found a materialist conception of reality fundamentally correct, this can help us understand his conception of human history, his social theory, and his critique of capitalism.

This chapter will first consider Marx’s materialism analytically. This will include an overview of the materialist basis of Marx’s class theory. ...

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