Marxist Critical Methodology

Marxist critical methods involve the application of a structure of categories against the text, so that the text can be “read.” Categories include such dichotomies as “use value/market value” and “proletariat/bourgoisie,” and the classification scheme of economic substructure, social structure, and cultural superstructure. The critical method sets the context. Critical methods based on Marxist theory might enable a historian to judge whether a text (for instance, a labor union pamphlet) was an authentic product of proletarian consciousness or represented the interest of capitalists. In the case of the labor union pamphlet, the context is established as an economic conflict.


K. Marx and F. Engels, The German Ideology [1845-46], Ed. R. Pascal, First Edition 1947, Reprint Edition (New York, 1968);

Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time (New York /Toronto: Farrar and Rinehart, 1944);

E. P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class (New York: Pantheon Books, 1964), “Preface” and Chapter XVI, “Class Consciousness;”

Raymond Williams, The Country and the City, First Edition 1973, Reprint Edition (Frogmore, St Albans [Great Britain]: Paladin, 1975);

Robert M. Young, “Marxism and the History of Science,” pp. 77-86 in R. C. Olby, G. N. Cantor, J. R. R. Christie and M. J. S. Hodge, eds., Companion to the History of Modern Science (London / New York: Routledge, 1990).