Primitive Accumulation

Authored by: Rajesh Bhattacharya , Ian J. Seda-Irizarry

Routledge Handbook of Marxian Economics

Print publication date:  March  2017
Online publication date:  March  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138774933
eBook ISBN: 9781315774206
Adobe ISBN:


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The concept of “primitive accumulation” has a checkered history within the Marxist tradition. In the writings of Karl Marx, the concept was used to uncover the origin of the capitalist mode of production through historical analysis. For a long while, its use was confined to transition studies—i.e. studies of transition to the capitalist mode of production, particularly in “backward” countries. However, in recent times, the concept has been used in the context of richer capitalist economies as well. The theoretical significance of the primitive accumulation, already visible in Marx’s writings, was later elaborated upon and developed by a number of Marxists.

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