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The Many Faces of Socioeconomic Change$
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John Toye

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198723349

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198723349.001.0001

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Evolutionary social progress, 1762–1848

Evolutionary social progress, 1762–1848

(p.13) 2 Evolutionary social progress, 1762–1848
The Many Faces of Socioeconomic Change

John Toye

Oxford University Press

Early travellers’ accounts of the lifestyles of native Americans inspired Adam Smith to create the first model of human socioeconomic progress. Each of the four stages of progressive change were based on a distinctive mode of subsistence, but the transaction between stages was explained poorly. The advent of the Industrial Revolution provoked Karl Marx to update this model by drawing on Guizot’s history of medieval class conflict as the mechanism of transition in a universal scheme of evolutionary stages of the mode of production and their distinctive methods of labour exploitation. This was the basis of Marx’s claim to have done for social science what Darwin had done for evolutionary theory in the natural sciences.

Keywords:   model, stages, transition, subsistence, class conflict, production, labour

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