Needs and Wants

  • W. Peter Archibald


Presumably, any account of needs should first carefully distinguish between what human individuals “need”, in the strict sense of require in terms of some (potentially) objective criterion such as their “normal” biological and psychological functioning and development, and what they “want”, which may arise merely from a superficial desire or passing fancy. However, Marx can easily be interpreted to have first and foremost intended “need” in the broadest sense of anything which individuals want and therefore motivates them to think and act with regard to it.


Human Nature Strict Sense Adaptation Level Human Individual Labour Power 
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  1. 6.
    Grundrisse, pp. 84, 496; Notes on Wagner, excerpted in David McLellan (ed.), Karl Marx: Selected Writings (Oxford University Press, 1977), p. 581.Google Scholar
  2. The full text can be found in Terrell Carver (ed.), Texts on Method (Oxford: Blackwell, 1975).Google Scholar
  3. 29.
    Harry Helson, Adaptation-Level Theory (New York: Harper and Row, 1964).Google Scholar
  4. 33.
    The term “comparison level of alternatives” is John Thibaut and Harold Kelley’s. See their The Social Psychology of Groups (New York: Wiley, 1959) pp. 21–4.Google Scholar
  5. Leon Festinger is best-known for the concept of social comparison level. See his “A theory of social comparison processes”, Human Relations, vol. 7 (1954), pp. 117–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 38.
    For a summary account of theory and research on the level of aspiration, see Morton Deutsch and Robert Krauss, Theories in Social Psychology (New York: Basic Books, 1965).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© W. Peter Archibald 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. Peter Archibald
    • 1
  1. 1.McMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada

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