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Encyclopedia > Superstructure

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Sociological concept

In social sciences, superstructure is the set of socio-psychological feedback loops that maintain a coherent and meaningful structure in a given society, or part thereof. It can include the culture, institutions, power structures, roles, and rituals of the society. It is that which, through conditioned behaviors (both interpersonal and situational), enforces a set of constraints and guidelines on human activity in a stable and effective fashion, such that it engenders a society's characteristic organization, and it is that characteristic organization itself. Terms like SOSE (Studies of Society & the Environment) not only refer to social sciences but also studies of the environment. ... Positive feedback is a type of feedback. ... The structure of a thing is how the parts of it relate to each other, how it is put together. This contrast with process, which is how the thing works; but process requires a viable structure. ... ... The word culture comes from the Latin root colere (to inhabit, to cultivate, or to honor). ... A function is part of an answer to a question about why some object or process occurred in a system that evolved or was designed with some goal. ... A ritual is a formalised, predetermined set of symbolic actions generally performed in a particular environment at a regular, recurring interval. ... Classical conditioning, also called Pavlovian conditioning or respondent conditioning, is a type of learning found in animals, caused by the association (or pairing) of two stimuli. ... Behavior or behaviour refers to the actions or reactions of an object or organism, usually in relation to the environment. ...


By most sociological schema, superstructure does not refer to the specific materials of an organization, such as a school or a store, but rather to the set of psychological or semantic configurations whereby that structure is rationalised and reproduced in human experience. That is, it is the "invisible force" behind or within the structure, or perhaps, it is the anthropocentric "reason" for the structure. Psychology (ancient Greek: psyche = soul and logos = word) is the study of behaviour, mind and thought. ... In general, semantics (from the Greek semantikos, or significant meaning, derived from sema, sign) is the study of meaning, in some sense of that term. ...


According to one sociological perspective, superstructure may be revealed by examining the direct interpersonal engagements that take place within canonical (typical) settings or situations, through the hermeneutic of sociobiology. Sociobiology is a branch of biology and also sociology that attempts to throw light upon behavior in both human and non-human societies in terms of evolutionary advantage or strategy. ...


Marxist concept

Within Marxist social theory, superstructure is the particular form through which human subjectivity engages with the material substance of society. The form is to an extent objective and to an extent subjective. The relationship between superstructure and base is considered to be a dialectical one, not a distinction between actual entities "in the world". Marxism is the political practice and social theory based on the works of Karl Marx, a 19th century philosopher, economist, journalist, and revolutionary, along with Friedrich Engels. ... Broadly speaking, a dialectic (Greek: διαλεκτική) is an exchange of propositions (theses) and counter-propositions (antitheses) resulting in a disagreement. ...


Marx himself introduces the concept in the 1859 Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy. The relevant passage is reproduced here:


"In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter Into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness. At a certain stage of development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production or — this merely expresses the same thing in legal terms — with the property relations within the framework of which they have operated hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an era of social revolution. The changes in the economic foundation lead sooner or later to the transformation of the whole immense superstructure. In studying such transformations it is always necessary to distinguish between the material transformation of the economic conditions of production, which can be determined with the precision of natural science, and the legal, political, religious, artistic or philosophic — in short, ideological forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out. Just as one does not judge an individual by what he thinks about himself, so one cannot judge such a period of transformation by its consciousness, but, on the contrary, this consciousness must be explained from the contradictions of material life, from the conflict existing between the social forces of production and the relations of production." Relations of production (German: Produktionsverhaltnisse) is a concept frequently used by Karl Marx in his theory of historical materialism and in Das Kapital. ... ... Acccording to marxism terminology, a mode of production is a particular combination of: productive forces: the material, social and productive techniques, materials and objects of a particular epoch, and relations of production: the particular property form and methods of exploitation of a particular epoch. ... Productive forces is a term within Marxism indicating the combination of the means of production with human labour power. ... A revolution is a relatively sudden and absolutely drastic change. ... An ideology is a collection of ideas. ... In metaphysics and statistics, the word individual, while sometimes meaning a person, more typically describes any numerically singular thing. ... Consciousness is a quality of the mind generally regarded to comprise qualities such as subjectivity, self-awareness, sentience, sapience, and the ability to perceive the relationship between oneself and ones environment. ...


According to Richard Middleton (1990), in Antonio Gramsci's conception or theory superstructural elements (cultural elements), what Middleton calls instances of practice, related to (and not predetermined by) economic elements through a process of articulation. Richard Middleton () is Staff Tutor and Senior Lecturer in Music at the Open Universitys Northern Region at Newcastle upon Tyne ([1]). He is also the founder and co-ordinating editor of the journal Popular Music. ... Antonio Gramsci Antonio Gramsci (January 23, 1891 – April 27, 1937) was an Italian writer and a politician, a leader and theorist of Socialism, Communism and anti-Fascism. ... Articulation is the process where cultural forms and practices are appropriated for use by particular classes. ...


Engineering concept

In engineering, superstructure refers to parts of a construction that project above a baseline: in building works, above the foundations, in shipbuilding, above the main deck. Engineering is the application of science to the needs of humanity. ...


Mathematical concept

In mathematics, the superstructure over a set S is used in one the approaches to non-standard analysis. Mathematics is the study of quantity, structure, space and change. ... In the most restricted sense, non-standard analysis is that branch of mathematics that formulates analysis using a rigorous notion of infinitesimal, where an element of an ordered field F is infinitesimal if and only if its absolute value is smaller than any element of F of the form 1...


Related topics

Social interactions of people and their consequences are the subject of sociology studies. ... Structuralism is an approach that grew to become one of the most widely used methods of analyzing language, culture, philosophy of mathematics, and society in the second half of the 20th century. ... Post-structuralism is a term used in an English-language context to designate some French-language scholarship and Anglo-American derivatives that washed ashore as the tide of structuralism receded. ... Michel Foucault Michel Foucault (October 15, 1926 – June 26, 1984) was a French philosopher and held a chair at the Collège de France, a chair to which he gave the title The History of Systems of Thought. His writings have had an enormous impact on other scholarly work: Foucaults... Franz Jakubowski (1912 - 1970) was a Marxist theorist. ...

References

  • Middleton, Richard (1990/2002). Studying Popular Music. Philadelphia: Open University Press. ISBN 0335152759.

  Results from FactBites:
 
Superstructure - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (601 words)
In social sciences, superstructure is the set of socio-psychological feedback loops that maintain a coherent and meaningful structure in a given society, or part thereof.
By most sociological schema, superstructure does not refer to the specific materials of an organization, such as a school or a store, but rather to the set of psychological or semantic configurations whereby that structure is rationalised and reproduced in human experience.
The relationship between superstructure and base is considered to be a dialectical one, not a distinction between actual entities "in the world".
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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