History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Booknotes: Marx, Marginalism, and Sociology

December 30th, 2015 · No Comments


What is the conceptual basis of the modern disciplines of
economics and sociology? Talcott Parsons hailed the
emergence of the ‘voluntaristic theory of action’, above all, in
the work of Max Weber as the breakthrough to a scientific
sociology, just as historians of economics acclaim the
‘marginalist revolution’. Simon Clarke argues that these
events are connected, that marginalist economics created the
possibility of its sociological complement, Weberian
sociology. Marx, Marginalism and Modern Sociology argues that the ‘marginalist revolution’ was not a scientific revolution but the
basis of a reformulation of an established ideology, political

economy, in response to the rise of an organised working
class. It provided, Clarke argues, the intellectual basis for a
range of political responses to that challenge and to the
demands for the reform of capitalism that it entailed. This book argues that sociology and economics are
inseparable: that all economic theories are necessarily
theories of society and that any social theory must rest on a
particular conception of the economy. Taking the path of
historical development Simon Clarke shows how Marx’s
critique of classical political economy was primarily addressed
to its naturalistic theory of capitalist society, which gave it an
ideological character. The development of sociology and
historicism, of marginalist economics and of Weber’s
sociology from the ashes of classical political economy, using
the same ideological foundations, make Marx’s critique of
continuing relevance in the evaluation of the artificially
separate modern disciplines of economics and sociology.
First published by Macmillan in 1982, the first edition of this book is now available in Kindle format.

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