Books On Instrumentalist Marxism
Instrumentalist Marxism is a view of the role of the state from a conflict perspective or Marxist perspective. The
state is seen as an instrument of the dominant class of the society and is assumed to
operate at its behest.
Instrumentalist Marxism approach
stresses the importance of the intimate connection of the capitalist class to the state
power apparatus and argues that it is this interconnection that explains political and
economic policies in capitalist societies.
Instrumentalist Marxism view has
now been largely displaced by a the structuralist
approach or structurally-focused analysis.
"Instrumentalist Marxism can
be salvaged by adoption of the concept of 'relative
"At the other end are more rigid theories (such as instrumentalist
Marxist or dependency models), in which the state is understood as little more than a
handmaiden to the interests of domestic and/or international capital" (Grindle and
Thomas, 1991; Dunleavy, 1991).
"Reflecting some of these
concerns, more recent studies of governance and development have tended to reject cruder
models (such as pluralism or instrumentalist Marxism) in favour of a less rigid
understanding of state-society interaction" (Evans, 1995; Grindle and Thomas, 1991;
Kohli, 1987; Migdal, 1988; Putnam, 1993; Tendler, 1997; Jenkins, 1999).
Marx Myths and Legends.
John Holloway - The Tradition of Scientific Marxism
"The positivisation of the concept of science implies a positivisation of the concept
of struggle. Struggle, from being struggle-against, is metamorphosed into being
struggle-for. Struggle-for is struggle to create a communist society, but in the
instrumentalist perspective which the positive-scientific approach implies, struggle comes
to be conceived in a step-by-step manner, with the conquest of power being
seen as the decisive step, the fulcrum of revolution. The notion of the conquest of
power, then, far from being a particular aim that stands on its own, is at the
centre of a whole approach to theory and struggle."
Structuralist Marxism and Its Critics
"Summarize the main differences between "instrumentalist" and
"structuralist" views of the state as expressed in the debate between Poulantzas
and Miliband. Assess the relative merits of each view and pick the one theory that you
find superior and defend it with reference to concrete issues of sociological explanation
or political practice."
Extract from Critical Race Theory CRT: An Overview - Richard Nunan,
College of Charleston
"CRT sensitivity to the practical influence of rights talk led CRT scholars to put
greater emphasis on the constitutive impact of legal ideology: law is not merely an
epiphenomenal "superstructure" reflecting class interests which originated
elsewhere, but actually has the power to create and modify the institutions of economic,
social, and political power. In this respect CRT scholars sought to distance themselves
from straightforwardly instrumentalist Marxism, which does treat legal discourse and legal
institutions as epiphenomenal. But, except as a matter of degree, this insight does not
distinguish CRT views from the CLS movement, which also embraced non-instrumentalist
accounts under which legal discourse is a source for shaping and perpetuating (or even
dismantling) power and class distinctions, not merely a reflection of them. Arguably
however, given the centrality of legal reform among CRT concerns, CRT scholars have
perhaps been a bit more attentive to the constitutive aspect of legal discourse than their