- Mode of production
- This term is ambiguous in Karl Marx’s writings, but can be defined as the way in which surplus is created, extracted and controlled, and acts as the basis for social and political arrangements. Incorporating the forces and relations of production, the mode of production can be seen as a model of economic organization, and over history different modes of production have developed. Five different modes can be discerned in Marx’s writings: Asiatic (a primitive communal form of production), ancient (based on slavery); feudal (based on serfdom), capitalist (based on wage labor), and communist (based on communal ownership of the means of production). In discussing these different modes Marx, while focusing on the economic form, also comments on the corresponding social and political forms including the classes and nature of the state. Marxists have debated the extent to which modes of production can be used to periodize history and whether or not all societies must pass through the different modes of production or if they can skip stages. Marx in looking at real societies used the term “socio-economic formations” which he suggested could contain elements of more than one mode of production. For example, 19th-century Great Britain while essentially capitalist also contained significant elements of feudalism.
Historical dictionary of Marxism. David Walker and Daniel Gray . 2014.