Neo-Marxism encompasses 20th-century approaches that amend or extend Marxism and Marxist theory, typically by incorporating elements from other intellectual traditions such as critical theory, psychoanalysis, or existentialism (in the case of Jean-Paul Sartre).

An example of the syncretism in neo-Marxist theory is Erik Olin Wright's theory of contradictory class locations which incorporates Weberian sociology, critical criminology and anarchism.[1] As with many uses of the prefix neo-, some theorists and groups designated as neo-Marxist have attempted to supplement the perceived deficiencies of orthodox Marxism or dialectical materialism. Many prominent neo-Marxists, such as Herbert Marcuse and other members of the Frankfurt School, have historically been sociologists and psychologists.

Neo-Marxism comes under the broader framework of the New Left. In a sociological sense, neo-Marxism adds Max Weber's broader understanding of social inequality such as status and power to Marxist philosophy. Examples of neo-Marxism include critical theory, analytical Marxism and French structural Marxism.


Neo-Marxism developed as a result of social and political problems that traditional Marxist theory was unable to sufficiently address. This iteration of thinking tended toward peaceful ideological dissemination, rather than the revolutionary and often violent methods of the past. Economically, neo-Marxist thought leaders moved beyond the era of public outcry over class warfare and attempted to design viable models to solve it. There are many different branches of neo-Marxism often not in agreement with each other and their theories. Following World War I, some neo-Marxists dissented and later formed the Frankfurt School. Toward the end of the 20th century, neo-Marxism and other Marxist theories became anathema in democratic and capitalistic Western cultures and the term attained negative connotations during the Red Scare. For this reason, social theorists of the same ideology since that time have tended to disassociate themselves from the term neo-Marxism. Examples of such thinkers include David Harvey and Jacque Fresco,[2] with some ambiguity surrounding Noam Chomsky, who has been labelled a neo-Marxist by some, but who personally disagrees with such assessments.[3][4] Some consider libertarian socialism an example of rebranded neo-Marxism.[5]

Neo-Marxist theories of development

The neo-Marxist approach to development economics is connected with dependency and world systems theories. In these cases, the "exploitation" that classifies it as Marxist is an external one, rather than the normal "internal" exploitation of classical Marxism.[6][7]

Neo-Marxian economics

In industrial economics, the neo-Marxist approach stresses the monopolistic rather than the competitive nature of capitalism. This approach is associated with Michał Kalecki, Paul A. Baran and Paul Sweezy.[8][9]

Neo-Marxist feminist theory

Some portions of Marxist feminism have used the neo-Marxist label.[10][11] This school of thought that believes that the means of knowledge, culture and pedagogy are part of a privileged epistemology as the absence of injustice and the resultant undue enrichment in terms of production of knowledge. Neo-Marxist feminism relies heavily on critical theory and seeks to apply those theories in psychotherapy as the means of political and cultural change. Teresa McDowell and Rhea Almeida use these theories in a therapy method called "liberation based healing" which, like many other forms of Marxism, uses sample bias in the many interrelated liberties in order to magnify the "critical consciousness" of the participants towards unrest of the status quo.[12][13][14][15]

See also


  1. John Scott & Gordon Marshall (eds) A Dictionary of Sociology (Article: neo-Marxism), Oxford University Press, 1998
  2. Yates, Shaun (2014). Crime, Criminality & Social Revolution. UK: Clok. p. 44.
  3. Cook, T. (1998). Governing with the News: News Media as a Political Institution. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, p.196.
  4. Khoo, H. (2004). Noam Chomsky and Marxism: On the roots of modern "authoritarianism" - Part One. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 Feb. 2018].
  5. Rai, Milan (1995). Chomsky's Politics. Verso. p. 97.
  6. Foster-Carter, A (1973) "Neo-Marxist Approaches to Development and Underdevelopment. Journal of Contemporary Asia, Vol. 3, No. 1
  7. John Taylor (1974): Neo-Marxism and Underdevelopment — A Sociological Phantasy, Journal of Contemporary Asia, 4:1, 5-23
  8. Kalecki, Michał (1971) Class Struggle and the Distribution of National Income (Lucha de clases y distribución del ingreso), Kyklos, Vol 24 Issue 1
  9. Baran, P and Sweezy, P (1966) Monopoly Capital: An essay on the American economic and social order, Monthly Review Press, New York
  10. Theresa Mcdowell "Class and classism in family therapy praxis: A Feminist, neo-marxist approach"
  11. Rhea Almeida Cultural Context Model: A Liberation Based Healing Paradigm.
  12. Theresa Mcdowell "Unsettling white stream pedagogy" - the great white project - 9th Annual Liberation Based Healing Conference
  14. Theresa Mcdowell "Class and classism in family therapy praxis: a Feminist, neo-marxist approach"
  15. Rhea Almeida Cultural Context Model: A Liberation Based Healing Paradigm.


  • Paul Blackledge; Perry Anderson (2004). Marxism, and the New Left. Merlin Press. ISBN 978-0-85036-532-0.
  • Hans Heinz Holz (1972). Strömungen und Tendenzen im Neomarxismus. München: Carl Hanser Verlag. ISBN 3-446-11650-8.
  • Horst Müller (1986). Praxis und Hoffnung. Studien zur Philosophie und Wissenschaft gesellschaftlicher Praxis von Marx bis Bloch und Lefebvre. Bochum: Germinal Verlag. ISBN 3-88663-509-0.
  • Andreas von Weiss (1970). Neomarxismus. Die Problemdiskussion im Nachfolgemarximus der Jahre 1945 bis 1970. Freiburg/München: Karl-Alber-Verlag. ISBN 3-495-47212-6.

Further reading

  • Willis, Kate. Theories and Practices of Development 2nd Edition. Routledge.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.