Hostname: page-component-546b4f848f-gfk6d Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-05-31T01:07:00.291Z Has data issue: false Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": true } hasContentIssue false

The Structure of Class Conflict in Democratic Capitalist Societies

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 June 1982

Adam Przeworski
University of Chicago
Michael Wallerstein
University of Chicago


The article presents a theory of class conflict between workers and capitalists who pursue their material interests under a form of societal organization that combines private ownership of instruments of production with representative political institutions. There exist economic and political conditions under which both classes would simultaneously choose courses of action that constitute a class compromise: workers consent to the institution of profit and capitalists to democratic institutions through which workers can effectively press claims for material gains. When these conditions hold and a compromise is in force, the role of the state consists in institutionalizing, coordinating, and enforcing the terms of a compromise that represents the preferences of workers as well as capitalists.

Research Article
Copyright © American Political Science Association 1982

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Bowles, Samuel, and Gintis, Herbert, 1980. The crisis of liberal democratic capitalism: the case of the United States. Presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
Chiaramonte, Gerardo. 1975. Report to the Central Committee of the P.C.I. 10 29–30. Italian Communist.Google Scholar
Clough, Shepard B. 1968. European economic history. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
Edel, Matthew. 1979. A note on collective action, Marxism, and the prisoner's dilemma. Journal of Economic Issues 13:751–61.10.1080/00213624.1979.11503675CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ferejohn, John, and Page, Talbot. 1978. On the foundations of intertemporal choice. American Journal of Agricultural Economics 78:269–75.10.2307/1240059CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Glyn, Andrew, and Sutcliffe, Bob. 1972. Capitalism in crisis. New York: Pantheon Books.Google Scholar
Goldberg, Samuel. 1958. Introduction to difference equations. New York: John Wiley and Sons.Google Scholar
Gramsci, Antonio. 1971. Prison notebooks. New York: International Publishers.Google Scholar
Griffuelhes, Victor. 1910. L'Inferiorité des Capitalistes Francais. Mouvement Socialiste 226:329–32.Google Scholar
Harsanyi, John C. 1977. Rational behavior and bargaining equilibrium in games and social situations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9780511571756CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Heller, Agnes. 1974. The theory of need in Marx. London: Allison and Busby.Google Scholar
Helmstädter, Ernst. 1973. The long-run movement of the capital-output ratio and of labor's share.” In Mirrlees, James and Stern, N. H. (eds.). Models of economic growth. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
Hoel, Michael. 1975. Aspects of distribution and growth in a capitalist economy. Memorandum of the Institute of Economics. Oslo, Norway: University of Oslo.Google Scholar
Hoel, Michael. (1978). Distribution and growth as a differential game between workers and capitalists. International Economic Review 19:335–50.10.2307/2526304CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jacobsen, John K. 1980. Chasing progress. Ph.D. dissertation. University of Chicago.Google Scholar
Keynes, John M. 1936. The general theory of employment, interest, and money. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich.Google Scholar
Kolm, Serge-Christophe. 1977. La Transition Socialiste: La Politique Economique de Gauche. Paris: Editions du Cerf.Google Scholar
Kuznets, Simon. 1966. Modern economic growth: rate, structure, and spread. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
Lancaster, Kelvin. 1973. The dynamic inefficiency of capitalism. Journal of Political Economy 81:10921109.10.1086/260108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lange, Oskar. 1938. On the economic theory of socialism. In Lippincott, Benjamin (ed.). On the economic theory of socialism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
Maddison, Angus. 1964. Economic growth in the west. New York: W. W. Norton.Google Scholar
Marx, Karl. 1934. The eighteenth brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. Moscow: Progress Publishers.Google Scholar
Marx, Karl. 1967. Capital. New York: International Publishers.Google Scholar
Marx, Karl. 1972. Writings on the Paris commune. Edited by Hal Draper. New York: Monthly Review.Google Scholar
McDonald, Ian M., and Solow, Robert M. 1981. Wage bargaining and employment. American Economic Review 71:896908.Google Scholar
Miliband, Ralph. 1969. The state in capitalist society. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
Nash, John. 1954. Equilibrium states in n-person games. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 36:48–9.10.1073/pnas.36.1.48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Odling-Smee, J. C. 1973. Personal saving revisited—more statistics, fewer facts. Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics 35:21–9.10.1111/j.1468-0084.1973.mp35001002.xCrossRefGoogle Scholar
O'Donnell, Guillermo A. 1973. Modernization and bureaucratic-authoritarianism: studies in South American politics. Berkeley: Institute of International Studies, University of California.Google Scholar
Offe, Claus, and Wiesenthal, Helmut. 1980. Two logics of collective action: theoretical notes on social class and organizational form. Political Power and Social Theory 1:67115.Google Scholar
Pasinetti, Luigi L. 1962. Rate of profit and income distribution in relation to the rate of economic growth. Review of Economic Studies 29:267–79.10.2307/2296303CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pirker, Theo, ed. 1965. Komintern und Faschismus. Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt.Google Scholar
Poulantzas, Nicos. 1973. Political power and social classes. London: New Left Books.Google Scholar
Przeworski, Adam. 1980. Material bases of consent: politics and economics in aa hegemonic system. Political Power and Social Theory 1:2368.Google Scholar
Roemer, John E. 1979. Mass action is not individually rational: reply. Journal of Economic Issues 13: 763–7.10.1080/00213624.1979.11503677CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Roemer, John E. in press. The labor-theory-of-value approach to Marxian exploitation is in general wrong. Politics and Society.Google Scholar
Sombart, Werner. 1976. Why there is no socialism in the United States. White Plains, N.Y.: International Arts and Sciences.10.1007/978-1-349-02524-4CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Stackelberg, H. von. 1952. The theory of the market economy. Translation and Introduction by Peacock, A. T.. London: William Hodge.Google Scholar
Taylor, Michael. 1976. Anarchy and cooperation. London: John Wiley and Sons.Google Scholar
Wallerstein, Michael. 1979. An estimate of savings out of wages in the United States, 1949–1970. Unpublished. University of Chicago.Google Scholar