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 Marxism 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."
Structuralist Marxism and Its Critics
Summarize the main differences between instrumentalist Marxism and structuralist Marxism
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."