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  • Materialism and Society

    Christian Fuchs

    Chapter from the book: Fuchs, C. 2020. Communication and Capitalism: A Critical Theory.


    This chapter discusses the materialist analysis of society. Foundational questions of a materialist theory of society are presented: these the relationship of subject and object, the relationship of freedom and necessity, the forces and relations shaping human production, the relationship of economy and society, and the characteristics of modern society. Society is considered as the totality of complexes of production, in which the dialectic of human subjects and structural objects manifests itself. Production acts as a model through which society is produced as totality.The dialectic of the economic and the non-economic (politics and culture) is constituted through the operation of the economy in the form of production in the realms of politics and culture. But politics and culture have relatively autonomous, emergent qualities that are constituted by society’s complexes and relations of production. The metaphor of the flowing river grasps the dynamics of society’s complexes of production. In modern, capitalist society, the dialectic of the economic and the non-economic is constituted by the logic of accumulation that shapes society. It brings about the accumulation of capital and various types of power. As a consequence, capitalist society’s realms have particular contradictory dynamics. In social theory, we find structuralist-functionalist and action-theoretic approaches. Marx in contrast assumed there is a dialectic of praxis and structures in history and the development of society, which constitutes a dialectic of freedom and necessity. Especially in structural crises, this dialectic poses a question about the possibility of a fundamental change of society.

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    Fuchs, C. 2020. Materialism and Society. In: Fuchs, C, Communication and Capitalism. London: University of Westminster Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16997/book45.c

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    Published on May 19, 2020