Base and Superstructure

Hugh Collins

in Marxism and Law

Published in print October 1984 | ISBN: 9780192851444
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191670534 | DOI:

Series: Marxist Introductions

Base and Superstructure

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This chapter presents three reasons why Marxists should abandon the base and superstructure model. All of them are directed towards the claim that it is possible to exclude superstructural phenomena from a concept of the material base. Plamenatz contends first that it is impossible to define the relations of production without using legal terminology, and second that the property rights involved in some relations of production depend upon legal systems for their existence. Finally, the chapter adds to these points by arguing more broadly that the material base must include a normative dimension in order for it to possess the necessary stability and reliability to last long enough for a social formation to occur. The law, therefore, appears to function in both base and superstructure and cannot be pigeonholed at the periphery of a social formation.

Keywords: Marxism; theory of law; material base; base and superstructure model; concept of law; Plamenatz

Chapter.  6755 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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