“Historical Materialism: A term applied by Karl Marx himself to his theory of society and history. ‘Historical entailed the analysis of how particular forms of society had come into existence, and the specific historical concepts within which apparently universal or eternal social forms—state, religion, market, and so forth—were located. Materialism denoted the rejection of Hegelian idealism and the primacy of socio-economic processes and relations. A sustained attempt to defend Marx’s account of the determining role in history played by the productive forces is made by William H. Shaw (Marx’s Theory of History, 1978).”
Excerpted from: Marshall, Gordon, ed. Oxford Dictionary of Sociology. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.