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Culture and society


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Culture and society

  1. 1. By : Moyra Haslett Presented by : Bahra LailaInstructor : prof. Khalid Amar
  2. 2. The outline 1) The author ‘’Moyra Haslett’’ 2) The relationship between literature, culture and society. 3) Base and superstructure. 4) The materiality of culture. 5) Materialism and Dialectics. 6) The materiality of language. 2
  3. 3. 1) Moyra Haslett Moyra Haslett is an author of Marxist literary and cultural theories. Moyra Haslett argues that Marxist literary and cultural theories are more diverse than is conventionally thought. She draws upon the work of a wide range of Marxist thinkers and discusses the works of those who sought to theorise the relationships between literature, culture and society, and between culture and ideology, including Volosinov, Lukacs, Jameson, Eagleton, Raymond Williams, John Berger… Marxist literary and cultural theory is primarily concerned with the relationship between literature, culture and society. 3
  4. 4. 2) The relationship betweenliterature, culture and society. Literature : literature is a term used to describe written or spoken material, it is used to describe anything from creative writing, to more technical or scientific works. ‘’Marxist view’’. It represents people and language, culture and tradition. So literature represents culture. Culture : culture has many different meanings, it is a learned pattern of behaviours, traditions, perceptions and ways in which a person lives his or her life, it is essential for the existence of society. Culture is socially adaptive. Society : human societies are characterised by patterns of relationships « social relations » between individuals who share a distinctive culture, language and institutions. 4
  5. 5.  According to the author, literature and other artistic forms are social. She argues that all Marxist theories share a common element which is the focus on the relationship between literature and society. « the reflection of society » The idea of art is very important, according to some Marxists critics, John Berger, Raymond Williams, Terry Eagleton, art has been altered to go out of society especially during the eighteenth century, that’s why it lost its real value. According to Marxist theory, culture includes everything in our daily life, which means that everything in this globe is connected and so hard to be seperated, in spite of this interconnection between elements in a whole way of life; Marxists view, that we can divide society from culture in order to grasp them independently. 5
  6. 6. 3) Base and Superstructure. Base and superstructure are concepts in Marxist thought. The base : It is the set of economic conditions and the relationships of different classes in society and the modes of production used in that society. It includes the economic system, capitalism ‘the economic freedom’, socialism, feudalism. It deals with anything that is related to material production ‘’machines, land, raw materials, factories… ’’ The superstructure : It incorporates non-economic forms of production. The superstructure of a society includes its culture, institutions, political power structures, religious, education, media, roles, rituals. The collective consciousness of the whole people ‘’society’’. The superstructure often inflences the base, the influence of the base. However, predominates. 6
  7. 7.  Marxist theories distinguish between three major practices within society which are : the economic, the political and the ideological ; each one of these practices would act autonomously. Many Marxist theories give more prominence to the economic practice has been the crucial determinant but there are some Marxists like ’’Thompson’’ who sees that the relationship between the base and superstructure is the only determinant and both of them emphasise on the human consciousness. In this regard Thompson draws the example of the working class which can not recognise itself as a class without the existing of other classes. Therefore, the Marxist theory insists on the idea that the literary production is bound by the economic dimension ‘’materiality’’ which means that it is so prominent for determining literature. We can not seperate the base and superstructure. 7
  8. 8. 4) The materiality of culture. Material culture is a term that refers to the relationship between artifacts and social relations. It is the set of economic and social structures/relations in the production, reproduction and reception of literary texts ‘’artifacts’’. Literature is apparently ‘ideal’ but belongs to the economic and political systems. According to the author, cultural artifacts are made by and for people and are subject to social and economic laws. For example, literary production is shaped by social, economic and technological factors, such as the histories of printing, publishing and the reading public ‘’practices ’’. So literary work in itself is a material production. Before the emergence of Computer mediated information, literary works had been followed some social, economic and political constraint of production, distribution. Novel, book, films... had been printed and commodified like goods. 8
  9. 9.  In Marx’s writing, the mode of production is the economic system of society. ‘’the dominant economic mode’’ (economic relations between groups of people, most obvious in the class structure) literary production represents social relations of production, the relations between publishers, writers and readers also forces of production ‘’cultural forms’’. The materiality of culture deals with the economic, social and 9 political conditions of production. ‘’the production of literary texts, artifacts’’, distribution or consumption. However; for Pierre Macherey, the materiality of culture deals with the self- production of the text (writer) the writer as the producer of a text. Literary texts and cultural artifacts ‘’production’’ are recognised as social products, they are treated as creative practices, they are not only produced of composition or publication but they are also reproduced in their readings.
  10. 10. 5) Materialism and Dialectics. According to Marxists theory, Materialism might be defined as a philosophy which is grounded in material reality, insofar as it does not explain concepts by ideal constructions. In Marxist terms, this is a mechanical definition of materialism which dooms the ideal and the material to mutual exclusion instead of seeing the ways in which they interact. The theory of materialism holds that the only thing that exists is matter, that all things are composed of material and all phenomena (including consciousness ‘’ideal’’) are the result of material interactions. The key mode of thinking in Marxist theories that of the dialectics. Dialectics is a method of argument or exposition that systematically weighs contradictory facts or ideas. It is an open way of considering elements of social process and interaction between contradictory or opposition. Such as the individual Vs society, theory Vs practice, parts Vs whole. For Raymond Williams, dialectics is generally held to mean the interactions between contradictory or opposite forces. 10
  11. 11. 6) The materiality of language. Vonosinov is one of the eminent theorist of language. Material language is a term used by Volosinov, he claims that the word is a social sign and the meduim of consciousness. Language is the human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication. According to Volosinov, language is the predominant signifying system, which mediates and translates our understanding of non-verbal arts : music, pictures, dance. For Volosinov, language is social and it is adapted and produced by individuals as they use it. Language as a system of signification is not in itself material, but the materiality is seen in the word because it gives meaning “specific meaning” and it originates in material practices and it appears as concrete in a particular text. 11
  12. 12.  ‘’The Multiaccentuality ’’ of the word is a term used by Volosinov, which means the ways in which different social groups and different classes use one language differently. He assumes that language is never neutral. Language as a communication system that allows humans to undertake linguistic behaviour, to learn language, produce and understand utterances. Language changes and it is always used in a context. 12
  13. 13.  This article, « Culture and Society » illuminates the complex issue of culture( literature ) and society. It aims at discovering whether there is any link between literature and society and to identify, if ever there is any, the determination of their relations. The article presents the Western Marxism’s of culture and society and Marxism critics who advocate an interrelationship between culture and society. 13
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