mode of production

Within Marxist theory, this is the constitutive characteristic of a society or social formation, based on the socio-economic system predominant within it-for example capitalism , feudalism , or socialism .
Mode of production was conventionally defined in terms of the interaction of the relations and forces of production ; that is, the system of ownership of the means of production, and the level of development of the latter. For Karl Marx , this formed the foundation or base of all social systems, and from it other social, economic, ideological, and political relations were derived. Considerable debate took place within Marxism as to how far the other areas of social activity-the superstructure -could be derived from the socio-economic base , or mode of production, and how far they enjoyed an autonomy. Friedrich Engels remarked that the economic sphere was determinant ‘in the last instance’, summing up this ambiguity, and initiating an unresolved debate about the relative autonomy of the political and ideological realms.
Marxism also analysed societies in which more than one mode of production was present, either because the society was in transition from one to the other, or because subordinate modes survived or were even maintained by the dominant one through a process of ‘articulation’ of modes of production-as for example in the case of slavery within the early capitalism of the Americas, or capitalist sectors within predominantly socialist societies.

Dictionary of sociology. 2013.

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