Means of production

Means of production are the resources and tools that workers use in order to produce. They are the sum of the subjects of labour (which include raw materials and natural resources) and the instruments of production (which include machinery, equipment, tools, and infrastructure).[1] In the capitalist mode of production, the bourgeoisie owns the means of production even though the proletariat does most of the work. Together with the relations of production, they are the sum of the economic base, the necessary components of production and reproduction for feudalism,capitalism, socialism, and so on.

The means of production include:

  • natural resources (land, forests, water, subsoil);
  • raw materials (which are outputs of previous production processes);[2]
  • tools;
  • facilities necessary for productive activity: factories, mining facilities, etc.;
  • means of transport and communication;
  • means of exchange between members of society: facilities necessary for distribution (warehouses, sales stores) and credit organizations (banks).

Material production can be divided into four groups: extractive industries (i.e. mining), manufacturing industries, agriculture, and transportation.[3]


  1. "If we examine the whole process from the point of view of its result, the product, it is plain that both the instruments and the subject of labour, are means of production, and that the labour itself is productive labour." -- Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. 1, Chap. 7: "The Labour-Process And The Process Of Producing Surplus-Value'
  2. "The soil (and this, economically speaking, includes water) in the virgin state in which it supplies man with necessaries or the means of subsistence ready to hand, exists independently of him, and is the universal subject of human labour. All those things which labour merely separates from immediate connexion with their environment, are subjects of labour spontaneously provided by Nature. Such are fish which we catch and take from their element, water, timber which we fell in the virgin forest, and ores which we extract from their veins. If, on the other hand, the subject of labour has, so to say, been filtered through previous labour, we call it raw material; such is ore already extracted and ready for washing. All raw material is the subject of labour, but not every subject of labour is raw material: it can only become so, after it has undergone some alteration by means of labour." (Capital, Vol. I, Chap 7, Section 1, 4th paragraph.)
  3. Economics Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R (1954). Political Economy: 'The Material Production Basis of Socialism'. [PDF] London: Lawrence & Wishart. [MIA]