Base and Superstructure in Marxist Cultural Theory is a critical essay critic and an influential figure in the New Left, Raymond Henry Williams. In Marxist theory, capitalist society consists of two parts: the base (or substructure ) and superstructure. The base. Type: Chapter; Author(s): Williams, Raymond; Date: ; Page start: 37; Page end: 45; Web address: ?id.

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SAGE Books – Base and Superstructure in Marxist Cultural Theory ()

Conflict theory Structural functionalism Symbolic interactionism. It has only a vague conceptual relatedness to the English sense of infrastructure. A society is not fully available for analysis until each of its practices is included.

Please log in from an authenticated institution or log into your member profile to access the email feature. All articles with failed verification Articles with bzse verification from November All articles with unsourced statements Articles with unsourced statements from September All articles with specifically marked weasel-worded phrases Articles with specifically marked weasel-worded phrases from October Now already in Marx himself, in the later correspondence of Engels, and at many points theoy the subsequent Marxist tradition, qualifications have been made about the determined character of certain superstructural activities.

Firstly, capitalism is not the same as commodity production. Reich focused on the role of sexual repression in the patriarchal family system as a way to understand how mass hteory for Fascism could arise in a society.

Since from the whole Marxist tradition literature was seen as an important activity, indeed a crucial activity, the Soviet state is very much sharper in investigating areas where different versions of practice, different meanings and values, are being attempted and expressed. The British Journal of SociologyVol. Neither the worker nor the pianist are base or superstructure.

Their existence marxit the incorporation is recognizable by the fact that, whatever the degree of internal conflict or internal variation, they do not in practice go beyond the limits of the central effective and dominant definitions.

Base and superstructure

Indeed I think that we have to give a very complex account of hegemony if we are talking about any real social formation. Williams says that in modern cultural society, dominant culture should develop and change in accordance to the changing times and attitude of the masses in order to be realistic and remain dominant. It is quite simply that the division between the past, present and future is arguably one of the oldest concept in human thinking.


A meaning or a practice may be tolerated as a deviation, and yet still be seen only as another particular way to live.

If you ask questions about the work of art seen as object, they may include questions about the components of its production. Indeed, the charge is a very serious one. What this can show us here about the practice of analysis is that we have to supetstructure from the notion of isolating the object and then discovering its components.

Raymond Williams: Base and Superstructure in Marxist Cultural Theory

Indeed until it and all other practices are present, the society cannot be seen as fully formed. That is why hegemony is not to be cultual at the level of mere opinion or mere manipulation. Marxiist cannot be stages of development in a static, uniform entity. For while it is true that any society is a complex whole of such practices, it is also true that any society has a specific organization, a specific structure, and that the principles of this organization and structure can be seen as directly related to certain social intentions, intentions by which we define the society, intentions which in all our experience have been the rule of a particular class.

In the subsequent default of a particular phase of a dominant culture, there is then a reaching back to those meanings and values which were created in real societies in the past, and which still seem to have some significance because they represent areas of human experience, aspiration and achievement, which the dominant culture undervalues or opposes, or even cannot recognise. Adorno Herbert Marcuse C. Part of a series on.

Base and superstructure – Wikipedia

Views Read Edit View history. Colin Jenkins provides a critique on the role of the capitalist state in the era of neoliberalismusing base and superstructure theory as well as the work of Nicos Poulantzas. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.


The work could be purely intellectual although even that requires some material. Walter Rodneythe Guyanese political activist and African historian, discussed the role of Marx’s superstructure in the context of suoerstructure cycles and colonialism.

It is a set of meanings and values which as they are experienced as practices appear as reciprocally confirming. But if we make that emphasis we must make a corresponding emphasis: Don’t have an williame The Nature of Political Theory. Residual, Dominant and Emergent. Yet when it comes to the man who plays the piano, whether to himself or to others, there is no question: But we have also to recognize certain other kinds of source, and in cultural practice some of these are very important.

Williams associates emergent culture with the newly evolving cultural practices, anr demand to be incorporated within the mainstream practice.

Raymond Williams makes a tripartite division of culture into residual, dominant, and emergent. This is like saying that Marx did not believe in God because he rejected determination, or Marx was an atheist because he believed that one thing could not be determined by another. He thinks it is enough for him merely to state a proposition and the reader will bow down in awe of it.

Williams also harps on the proposition of economic base being more crucial and vital for understanding the realities of cultural process. Now there is clearly a difference between a process of setting su;erstructure and exerting pressures, whether by some external force or by the internal laws of a particular development, and that other process in which a subsequent content is essentially prefigured, predicted and controlled by a pre-existing external force.

As a way of considering cultural activity, and incidentally the economics of modern cultural activity, this is very clearly a dead-end.