Thomas M. Kemple, "Marx's Wager: Das Kapital and Classical Sociology" (Palgrave MacMillan, 2022)


Marx’s Capital looms large today, a century and a half after first publication, a massive tome that attempts to document and map out the dynamics of a society consumed by capital accumulation. The complexity and scope, as well as its voluminous incompleteness upon his death, have left many readers perplexed, looking for a ‘royal road’ to comprehension. However, this has led to a number of misreadings, with commentators often trying to pick at what they assume is the core of the text, leaving the rest behind.

Against this, Thomas Kemple in his new book Marx's Wager: Das Kapital and Classical Sociology (Palgrave MacMillan, 2022) argues that understanding Capital mean’s reading it not just for the economic equations, but the social and moral insights as well. Rather than see Marx’s quotations of literature and poetry as an embellishment to spice up the economic analysis, he sees it performing moral and analytic work as well, allowing Marx to explore the nature of capitalism at a much broader level than narrow economics will allow. Putting Marx in dialogue with his contemporaries, particularly Durkheim, Weber and Simmel, Kemple finds Marx’s work to be much more dynamic and comprehensive than many of his readers have previously realized. This little book offers close textual analysis that will enable readers to approach Marx with fresh eyes, seeing elements of their society and themselves in the text that may have previously gone unnoticed.

Thomas Kemple is a professor of sociology at the University of British Columbia. He is the author of several books, including Reading Marx Writing: Melodrama, the Market and the Grundrisse, Intellectual Work and the Spirit of Capitalism: Weber’s Calling and most recently Simmel.

Your Host

Stephen Dozeman

View Profile