Personality Theory from within Historical Materialism

  • Peter Leonard
Part of the Critical Texts in Social Work and the Welfare State book series (CTSWWS)


We have seen in the previous chapter that many efforts have been made to develop a materialist understanding of the individual on the basis of some mixture of Marxism and whole theories or selected concepts borrowed from psychological work lying originally outside Marxism. In many cases this mixture has been achieved by maintaining a dualism between ideology and the psychology of the individual on the one hand, and the economic structure on the other. Mitchell’s approach is a prime example of this dualism, and we have indicated some of its limitations. In particular, it is an approach which effectively restricts Marxism to political economy and places psychoanalysis on top of it as an explanation of the production and reproduction of ideology. Despite its serious problems, we might see Schneider’s work as, in this respect, an advance in that it attempts to develop Marx’s own psychological understandings through an elaboration of the theory of value — labour, commodities and money — and, only on the basis of this elaboration, uses concepts from psychoanalysis in order to examine the interaction between personality development and historic changes in the forces and relations of production.


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© Peter Leonard 1984

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  • Peter Leonard

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