In the writings of Karl Marx and the Marxist theory of historical materialism, a mode of production (in German: Produktionsweise, meaning 'the way of producing') is a specific combination of: * productive forces: these include human labour power and available knowledge given the level of technology in the means of production (e.g. tools, equipment, buildings and technologies, materials, and improved land). * social and technical relations of production: these include the property, power and control relations governing society's productive assets, often codified in law, cooperative work relations and forms of association, relations between people and the objects of their work, and the relations between social classes. Marx regarded productive ability and participation in social relations as two essential characteristics of human beings and that the particular modality of these relations in capitalist production are inherently in conflict with the increasing development of human productive capacities. Significance of concept
According to Marx, the combination of forces and relations of production means that the way people relate to the physical world and the way people relate to each other socially are bound up together in specific and necessary ways. People must consume to survive, but to consume they must produce, and in producing they necessarily enter into relations which exist independently of their will. For Marx, the whole 'secret' of why/how a social order exists and the causes of social change must be discovered in the specific mode of production that a society has. He further argued that the mode of production substantively shaped the nature of the mode of distribution, the mode of circulation and the mode of consumption, all of which together constitute the economic sphere. To understand the way wealth was distributed and consumed, it was necessary to understand the conditions under which it was produced. A mode of production is historically distinctive for Marx, because it constitutes part of an 'organic totality' (or self-reproducing whole) which is capable of constantly re-creating its own initial conditions, and thus perpetuate itself in a more or less stable ways for centuries, or even millennia. By performing social surplus labour in a specific system of property relations, the labouring classes constantly reproduce the foundations of the social order. Normally a mode of production shapes the mode of distribution, circulation and consumption, and is regulated by the state. New productive forces will cause conflict in the current mode of production. When conflict arises the modes of production can evolve within the current structure or cause a complete breakdown. The process of socioeconomic change
The process by which social and economic systems evolve is based on the premise of improving technology. Specifically, as the level of technology improves, existing forms of social relations become increasingly insufficient for fully exploiting technology. This generates internal inefficiencies within the broader socioeconomic system, most notably in the form of class conflict. The obsolete social arrangements prevent further social progress while generating increasingly severe contradictions between the level of technology (forces of production) and social structure (social relations, conventions and organization of production) which develop to a point where the system can no longer sustain itself, and is overthrown through internal social revolution that allows for the emergence of new forms of social relations that are compatible with the current level of technology (productive forces). The fundamental driving force behind structural changes in the socioeconomic organization of civilization are underlying material concerns - specifically, the level of technology and extent of human knowledge and the forms of social organization they make possible. This comprises what Marx termed the materialist...
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