(in Marxist theory) the doctrine that all forms of social thought, as art or philosophy, and institutions, as the family or the state, develop as a superstructure founded on an economic base; that they reflect the character of economic relations and are altered or modified as a result of class struggles; that each ruling economic class produces the class that will destroy or replace it; and that dialectical necessity requires the eventual withering away of the state and the establishment of a classless society: the body of theory, in dialectical materialism, dealing with historical process and social causation.
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Question 1 of 7
Compare economic determinism.
Origin of historical materialism
First recorded in 1920–25
Words nearby historical materialism
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020
British Dictionary definitions for historical materialism
the part of Marxist theory maintaining that social structures derive from economic structures and that these are transformed as a result of class struggles, each ruling class producing another, which will overcome and destroy it, the final phase being the emergence of a communist society
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012