This thesis attempted to critically examine the concept of class as it has been developed and deployed by European Marxism. The central question that guided this investigation was: “what constitutes the being of a class?” In course of developing an answer to this ontological question, this thesis approached the problem of class from two different methodological perspectives. The first part of this thesis attempted to understand class via a brief examination of the history of the concept as it appears in the writing of Marxist theorists from the original writings of Marx and Engels to the more-politically oriented theories of Vladimir Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg. The examination of the writing of Marx and Engels revealed that the concept of class is ambiguous at the origins of Marxist theory. The study of Luxemburg and Lenin attempted to demonstrate how early 20th century Marxism tried to make sense of this ambiguity by fixing the essence of classes to an autonomous and determinate sphere of economic reality.
The second part of this thesis approached the problem of the ontology of class through social theory. It picked up where part 1 left off, with a critique of the theory of economic determinism that was developed by 20th century Marxism. After rejecting this understanding of social reality, part 2 attempted to develop an alternative social theory from Marxist principles in order to find a new ontological foundation for classes.
Coyle, Ciarán, "Reexaming the Political Ontology of Class: An Investigation of a Central Marxist Concept" (2016). Honors College. 376.