Mode of Production

Mode of Production


People need food, clothing, shelter and other necessities of life in order to survive. They cannot get all these things ready-made from nature. To survive, they produce material goods from objects found in nature. Material production has always been and still is the basis of human existence. For Karl Marx, the history of human societies is the story of how people relate to one another in their efforts to make a living. He said, “The first historical act is…the production of material life.


The forces of production express the degree to which human beings control nature. The more advanced the productive forces are, greater is their control over the nature and vice versa. You can say the forces of production are the ways in which material goods are produced. They include the technological know-how, the types of equipment in use and goods being produced for example, tools, machinery, labour and the levels of technology are all considered to be the forces of production.


The relations of production are the social relations found among the people involved in the process of production. These social relations are determined by the level and character of the development of productive forces.


In Marx’s writing, stages of social history are differentiated not by what human beings produce but by how, or by what means, they produce the material goods for subsistence. In this way, we can say that historical periods are founded and differentiated on the basis of the modes of material production. In other words, at the basis of history are successive modes of material production.

A mode of production is the relationship between the relations of production and the forces of production. Modes of production can be distinguished from one another by different relationships between the forces and relations of production.


Ancient Mode of Production Refers to a production system where the master has the right of ownership over the slave and appropriates the products of his labor through servitude, without allowing the slave to reproduce.

Slaves Class of producers in the ancient mode of production, who are directly controlled by the masters as their private ‘property’.

Capitalist Mode of Production Refers to a production system where the owners of means of production, capitalists, extract surplus labor from the proletariat in the form of profits.

Capitalists The ruling class in capitalism who control the means of production.

Bourgeoisie The class of capitalists who, in all developed countries, are now almost exclusively in possession of all the means of consumption and of all the raw materials and instruments.

Workers Class of producers in the capitalist mode of production who have nothing except their labor power as their only means of livelihood. Their surplus labor is appropriated by the capitalists through profit.

Feudal Mode of Production Refers to a production system where the lords appropriate surplus labor from the serfs in the form of rent.

Lords The ruling class in feudalism, who exercise indirect control over serfs.

Serfs Class of producers in the feudal mode of production whose surplus labor is appropriated through rent.

Asiatic Mode of Production Refers to community-based production system where ownership of land is communal and the existence of is expressed through the real or imaginary unity of these communities

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