Base and superstructure

element of Marxist theory

According to Marxism, society is made up of the base (substructure) and the superstructure. These two parts influence each other.

Diagram showing the relationship between the base and the superstructure in Marxist theory

Base and superstructureEdit

BaseEdit

The base (economy) is made up of the means of production (such as land, factories, raw materials) and the relations of production, or the social relations people enter in order to survive (such as being an employer or an employee or what social class someone is part of).

SuperstructureEdit

The superstructure (ideology) is made up of the non-material things (such as institutions, laws, religion, culture) that make up society and shape how people think about themselves and their place in the world. The superstructure shows the interests of the ruling class.

RelationshipEdit

The base shapes the superstructure. The superstructure defends how the base operates. For example, in capitalism, schools teach students why capitalism is good and how to participate in a capitalist economy.

The base and the superstructure need each other to exist. They also change over time.