The mode of production is a concept which Karl Marx used to explain relations in society.

Principally, Marx argued that the history of the world is the history of class struggle. Friction between classes is based on a struggle for control of the mode of production, which Marx argued is the base upon which the superstructure of society is built. The mode of production and societal superstructure form Marx's base-superstructure model.

The mode of production consists of two separate items:

  • The forces or production
  • The relations of production

The forces of production are the technologies (tools or processes) through which production is carried on. Examples of the forces of production are machines in Capitalism and the plough in Feudalism.

The relations of production refer to the relationship between the suboordinate class (proletariat) and the dominant class (bourgeoisie). In any mode of production, the dominant class extracts a surplus of wealth from the suboordinate class through exploitation.

Marx theorised that the relations of production are irreconcilable because the classes are constantly engaged in a struggle for power.


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