Cultural Materialism

A materialist analysis of culture — in other words, an exploration of the influence of material things on cultural phenomena.

Materialist analysis is inspired by Marx, who insisted on the importance of material means of production and rejected idealist aesthetics. As Raymond Williams put it in "Culture is Ordinary" (1958), "A culture must finally be interpreted in relation to its underlying system of production." But Williams and other cultural materialists have also challenged many commonplaces of Marxist criticism, particularly Marx's notion of a material base and a cultural superstructure. Williams, for instance, argues that Marxism makes culture secondary to material processes, when in fact it should recognize that culture is itself material.


From the Guide to Literary Terms by Jack Lynch.
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Note: This guide is still in the early stages of development.
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