Mode of production

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 the following:

  • Productive forces: these include human labour power and means of production (e.g. tools, productive machinery, commercial and industrial buildings, other infrastructure, technical knowledge, materials, plants, animals and exploitable 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 social reproduction and that the particular modality of these relations in capitalist production are inherently in conflict with the increasing development of human productive capacities.[1]

A precursor to this concept was Adam Smith's concept of mode of subsistence, which delineated a progression of society types based on the way in which society's members provided for their basic needs.[2]