Recent Marxian Theory

Class Formation and Social Conflict in Contemporary Capitalism

By John F. Sitton

Subjects: Political Theory
Series: SUNY series in Political Theory: Contemporary Issues
Paperback : 9780791429426, 372 pages, July 1996
Hardcover : 9780791429419, 372 pages, July 1996

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Table of contents


1. The Proletariat and Historical Progress

2. Production, Interests, and Class Capacities

3. Citizens and Classes

4. Reason, Revolution, and Rithmetic:Analytical Marxism

5. The Political Displacements of the Welfare State: The Theory of Claus Offe

6. Reification Without the Proletariat: The Argument of Juergen Habermas

7. World-System Theory and the Direct Producers: The Perspective of Immanuel Wallerstein

8. Contemporary Capitalism and Its Discontents


Works Cited


Brings together prominent recent analyses within the Marxist tradition that bear on class formation and social conflict in contemporary capitalism and concludes that class relations continue to be important for analyzing the historical trajectory of, and challenges to, capitalism, although not in the way Marx imagined.


This book brings together some of the more prominent recent analyses within the Marxian tradition that bear on the topics of class formation and social conflict in contemporary capitalism. After examining debates over historical agency, class structure, and electoral dynamics, it explores the provocative arguments of analytical Marxists, Claus Offe, Jürgen Habermas, and Immanuel Wallerstein. In light of these discussions, the author concludes that even if the variety of forces contemporary capitalism structurally generates do not promote the formation of a revolutionary "proletariat," class relations continue to be important for analyzing the historical trajectory of, and challenges to, capitalism—although not in the way that Marx imagined.

John F. Sitton is Associate Professor of Political Science at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.


"To take up the thematic of class agency and proletariat in Marxist theory, to subject it to a variety of sympathetic and not-so-sympathetic readings, and then try to make sense of its status in the present theoretical and historical context is a mammoth task to undertake. The author has done so with a great sense of balance and intellectual brilliance. In certain respects it is a tour de force. " — Carl Boggs, National University and UCLA

"Recent Marxian Theory is very learned; it surveys an impressive range of recent work in Marxist theory and does so with considerable penetration, care, and insight. The usefulness of the work does not lie only in the interesting and instructive readings of a very large literature. Sitton uses his reading to construct a political theory of his own that deserves being taken very seriously. " -- Richard Schmitt, Brown University

"Sitton's book covers an astonishing range of topics in recent Marxian theory. To my knowledge, he is the first person to show in detail how the perspectives of analytical Marxism, Offe and Habermas, and world systems theory are complementary attempts to deal with the same set of issues. This is a major contribution. Furthermore, the book is as well written as any work in social theory I can recall. It should be of great interest to anyone who wants an overview of much of the intellectual terrain of recent Marxism. " — Tony Smith, Iowa State University