Like the term base , that of superstructure was imported into Marxist discourse on the authority of Marx's reference to the sphere of production as being the ‘real foundation, on which rises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness’, which appears in hisPreface to a Contribution to a Critique of Political Economy(1859). Conventionally, therefore, the superstructure of a society comprises its political and cultural (or ideological) realms. Issues such as how the superstructure relates to the base, precisely what it consists of and the nature of its internal dynamics, were discussed by Marx when he spoke of ideology and the fetishism of commodities . Since Marx's time these issues have been approached through such concepts as hegemony and discourse . The net result has been that the architectural metaphor upon which the distinction between the base and the superstructure conventionally rests is no longer an adequate summary of the complex relations that are now understood to obtain between the economic and the other realms of society. Arguably, as commentators such as G. A. Cohen have recently observed, Marx himself did not intend such a crude view of unidimensional and unidirectional causality. See also mode of production ; social formation.

Dictionary of sociology. 2013.

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  • superstructure — [ sypɛrstryktyr ] n. f. • 1872; « élément inutile » 1764; de super et structure 1 ♦ Partie (d une construction) située au dessus du sol, d un niveau. Superstructure d un pont. Ensemble des travaux exécutés hors de terre. Les superstructures d une …   Encyclopédie Universelle

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  • superstructure — index building (structure) Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • superstructure — 1640s, from SUPER (Cf. super ) + STRUCTURE (Cf. structure) …   Etymology dictionary

  • superstructure — ► NOUN 1) a structure built on top of something else. 2) the part of a building above its foundations. 3) the parts of a ship, other than masts and rigging, above its hull and main deck. 4) a concept or idea based on others …   English terms dictionary

  • superstructure — [so͞o′pərstruk΄chər] n. 1. a structure built on top of another: sometimes used figuratively 2. that part of a building above the foundation 3. that part of a ship above the main deck …   English World dictionary

  • Superstructure — A superstructure is an upward extension of an existing structure above a baseline. This term is applied both to physical structures like buildings, bridges or ships and to conceptual structures as well (e.g., in social sciences). The word… …   Wikipedia

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  • superstructure — (su pèr stru ktu r ) s. f. 1°   Dans les ponts et chaussées, superstructure d un pont, la construction de la partie au dessus d une rivière, d un canal, d un chemin de fer. 2°   Structure superflue et inutile à l édifice.    Fig. Ce qui est… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • superstructure — [[t]su͟ːpə(r)strʌktʃə(r)[/t]] superstructures N COUNT: usu sing The superstructure of a ship is the part of it that is above its main deck. We might try to clear up some of the cabins in the superstructure …   English dictionary

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