In economics and sociology, the means of production are physical and non-financial inputs used in the production of economic value. These include raw materials, facilities, machinery and tools used in the production of goods and services. In the terminology of classical economics, the means of production are the "factors of production" minus financial and human capital. The social means of production are capital goods and assets that require organized collective labor effort, as opposed to individual effort, to operate on. The ownership and organization of the social means of production is a key factor in categorizing and defining different types of economic systems. The means of production includes two broad categories of objects: instruments of labor and subjects of labor. People operate on the subjects of labor using the instruments of labor to create a product; or stated another way, labor acting on the means of production creates a good. In an agrarian society the principal means of production is the soil and the shovel. In an industrial society the means of production become social means of production and include factories and mines. In a knowledge economy, computers and networks are means of production. In a broad sense, the "means of production" also includes the "means of distribution" such as stores, the internet and railroads.
Marx's theory of class defines classes in their relation to their ownership and control of the means of production. In a capitalist society, the bourgeoisie, or the capitalist class, is the class that owns the means of production and derives a passive income from their operation. In contrast, the proletariat, or working class, comprises the majority of the population that lacks access to the means of production and are therefore induced to sell their labor power for a wage or salary to gain access to necessities, goods and services. To the question of why classes exist in human societies in the first place, Karl Marx offered a historical and scientific explanation that it was the cultural practice of ownership of the means of production that gives rise to them. This explanation differs dramatically from other explanations based on "differences in ability" between individuals or on religious or political affiliations giving rise to castes. This explanation is consistent with the bulk of Marxist theory in which Politics and Religion are seen as mere outgrowths of the basic underlying economic reality of a people.
are defined by German economist Karl Marx in his book Das Kapital as labor, subjects of labor, and instruments of labor: the term is equivalent to means of production plus labor. The factors of production are often listed in economic writings derived from the classical school as "land, labour and capital". Marx sometimes used the term "productive forces" equivalently with "factors of production"; in Kapital, he uses "factors of production", in his famous Preface to the Critique of Political Economy, he uses "productive forces". Production relations are the relations humans enter into with each other in using the means of production to produce. Examples of such relations are employer/employee, buyer/seller, the technical division of labour in a factory, and property relations. Mode of production means the dominant way in which production is organised in society. For instance, "capitalism" is the name for the capitalist mode of production in which the means of production are owned privately by a small class who profits off the labor of the working class. Communism is a mode of production in which the means of production are not owned by anyone, but shared in common, without class based exploitation.