Marx and Schumpeter: A Comparison of their Theories of Development

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This paper aims to draw out the similarities and differences between the theories of Marx and Schumpeter. This is done first, by discussing the methods the two use and second, by examining the different aspects of their theories. It is argued that Marx’s ‘materialist conception’ has two logically separate parts. In one of these social reality is seen in organic terms, in a constant process of change driven primarily by economic forces. The other refers to the phenomenon of social classes. In general, Marx adopts the view that every society is split between two social classes, those who own means of production and those who live by their labour. It is in these terms that Marx conceptualises capitalism. Schumpeter adopts, with some interesting modifications, the first part of Marx’s ‘conception’ which he calls the Economic Interpretation of History. And he rejects the second, and develops his own theory of classes, in which the phenomenon of social classes rests essentially on differences in aptitudes of individuals in a society. The paper attempts to show that the similarities and differences in the development theories of the two authors are derived essentially from the similarities and differences in their methods. Schumpeter’s enormous respect and admiration for Marx is based on the latter’s ‘discovery’ of the method of Economic Interpretation of History and second, on Marx’s attempt to construct an all-embracing framework for analysing economic and social change.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationGlasgow
PublisherUniversity of Strathclyde
Number of pages42
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2006


  • Marx
  • Schumpeter
  • economic theory
  • class history
  • social classes
  • development
  • Economic Interpretation of History

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