Structuralist Readings of Marx (from the mid-1960s)

Structuralism has influenced all major fields of the (human) sciences, including the Marx-based critique of society. While it is almost a distinguishing feature of structuralism that its protagonists refuse to be labelled as such, the works and debates associated with an influential circle of people around French philosopher Louis Althusser are referred to as "structural Marxism."

The book Lire le Capital, co-authored by Althusser, Étienne Balibar, Roger Establet, Pierre Macherey and Jacques Rancière, is usually considered the starting point of the structuralist engagement with Marx. Major influences on the structuralist reading of Marx include Jacques Lacan’s psychoanalytic theory and the works of Antonio Gramsci. The Greek-French political scientist and philosopher Nicos Poulantzas is considered one of the most important Marxist state theorists from this context. More in-depth texts on his work can be found, among other places, on the websites of the project "Poulantzas lesen" ("Reading Poulantzas") and of the Poulantzas Institute.

Like the French philosophy of the second half of the 20th century in general, the structural reading of Marx has exerted a strong international influence, probably stronger than that of any other recent engagement with Marx. It has proved particularly influential in the English-speaking world. Important texts by Althusser can be found, among other places, at Marxist Internet Archive.