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.
What has come to be known as historical materialism is a theory developed by Marx and Engels that attempts to understand why and how societies change based on material causes. In particular, Marx was interested in how humans’ ability to learn about and alter their natural environment can cause societies to change. In Marxian language, historical materialism is a theory of how modes of production come into existence and disappear due to the development of the productive forces. The theory of historical materialism is not simply an analysis of the dynamics of social change with no consideration of the consciousness of the actors. On the contrary, it appears that Marx’s theory of historical materialism attempts to explain not only the physical ...