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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Now it is crucial to any Marxist theory of culture that it can give an adequate explanation of the sources of those practices and meanings. Unfortunately, I did not have enough time to respond to these legitimate queries and dealt with them in a summary fashion. That is to say, it is usually very much better at distinguishing the large features of different epochs of society, as between feudal and bourgeois, or what might be, than at distinguishing between different phases of bourgeois society, and different moments within the phases: Materialism does not reject the whole of idealism.

But indeed this is true over an even wider field. There cannot be stages of development in a static, uniform entity. The Mass Psychology of Fascism. Williams says that this proposition can be contested due to the non-economical basis of some actions, such as philosophy and other such fields.

This went along with certain kinds of political tolerance, even if the reality of that tolerance was malign neglect. Raymond Williamsfor example, argues against loose, “popular” usage of base and superstructure as discrete entities which, he explains, is not the intention of Marx and Engels:.

Raymond Williams: Base and Superstructure in Marxist Cultural Theory

CQ Press Your definitive resource for politics, policy and people. In this new categorization, social ideology and social psychology is a material process that self-perpetuates, the same way economic systems in the base perpetuate themselves. The existence of the possibility of opposition, and of its articulation, its degree of openness, and so on, again depends on very precise social and political forces. The relationship between the making of a work of art and the reception of a work of art, is always active, and subject to conventions, which in themselves are forms of social organization and relationship, and this is radically different from the production and consumption of an object.


Now when we talk of the base, and of primary productive forces, it matters very much whether we are referring, as in one degenerate form of this proposition became habitual, to primary production within marxisy terms of capitalist economic relationships, or to the primary production of society itself, and of men themselves, material production and reproduction of real life. For if we come to say that society is composed of a large number of social practices which form a concrete social whole, and if we give to each practice a certain specific recognition, adding only that they interact, relate and combine in very complicated ways, we are at one level much more obviously talking about reality, but we are at another level withdrawing from the claim that there is any process of determination.

On the contrary we have to discover the nature of a practice and then its conditions. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the superstrycture structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure, and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness.

Raymond Williams Marxism by Rob Pratley on Prezi

This is very similar to what Comrade Prachanda stated when he said made a tripartite division in politics between reactionary, status-quo, and progressive. This is usually the difference between individual and small-group solutions to social crisis and those solutions superstructurd properly belong to political and ultimately revolutionary practice. By extension this means that the Marxist development cycle is malleable due to cultural superstructures, and is not an inevitable path. Indeed I think that we have to give a very complex account of hegemony if we are talking about any raymnod social formation.

Thus we have to recognize the alternative meanings and values, the alternative opinions and attitudes, even some alternative senses of the world, which can be cultursl and tolerated within a particular effective and dominant culture. How is this to be accomplished? Mass, Masses and Mass Communication Chapter 3: It is an integral part of the society.


Firstly, categorizing something in the superstructure does not make it secondary or worthy of being dismissed.

This page was last edited on 21 Novemberat Class and Human Practice We do have indeed one source vase hand from the central body of Marxist theory. The Pinoncelli homage to the New Left was paid by post-modernism. What do these three terms mean? But with one very important reservation. In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely [the] relations of production appropriate to a given ajd in the development of their material forces of production.

Base and superstructure

But in any case the relationship that was looked for was one between an object and its components. Williams, however, makes it clear that he objects to the economic reductionism of an unexamined As a matter of fact one should reject most concepts that we work with today because the vast majority of concepts were developed on the terrain of idealism.

Communication Systems [] Chapter 6: On the contrary we can only understand an effective and dominant culture if we understand the real social process on which it depends: We have the principles of the relations of practices, within a discoverably intentional organization, and we have the available hypotheses of dominant, residual and emergent. He says that base is never static or uniform since there are deep contradictions in the relationships of production thereby effecting the social relations.