Maureen: Re: Work to be done: culture/econ

j-harsin at j-harsin at
Sat Mar 6 19:39:19 PST 1999

Hi, Maureen. I think I see what you're getting at. Your point about "the last instance" may be correct, but to be honest, I'm not sure how critically (and historically, practically, in terms of always trying to inform practice by certain theory and principles) productive the which came first chicken/egg? question is. You seem to be aware of that seminal British cultural studies debate (Stuart Hall: "Two Paradigms) over culturalism and economic structuralism, base/superstructure.The point I'm making is the one Hall made then but which apparently needs to be made again and again on the left. What I'm talking about erases the slash in terms of a mechanistic materialism that speaks of economics as completely non-relational entities--which I'm saying is clearly the wrong way to understand how major economic changes both come about, implement themselves, and then maintain or legitimate themselves. Capital and economics too often, I think, are spoken of as forces that just invisibly sweep over a way of life, reorganize it (by rude force, though that is certainly there in many instances) without having to do any rhetorical/signification work. This is certainly not the case. It must negotiate what already exists, it must assimilate, it must legitimate itself in the most rhetorical of ways. The ruling class's traditional intellectuals legitimated changes via narratives of social Darwinism, "scientific racism," and, like I said, certain rhetorics of gendered practices. Socio-economic changes are both enabled by and then legitimated through cultural frameworks--discourses and practices. Cheers! Jayson
>I don't know too much about the period you want to research, but it sounds
>like the linkages you want to explore are important ones. OTOH, when you
>>I'm with you on erasing that slash. That's what interested me in the
>>Meaghan Morris-type cultural studies when I went back to grad school.
>>>How do major economic changes that in turn organize social and political
>>>life in significant ways get implemented? It's a very important
>>>question. Culture is the answer.
>I'm not sure how this erases the slash. If "culture" is what explains how
>those economic changes could implement themselves, then you seem to be
>casting economics (the laws of capitalist development or something), as the
>motor, and culture as a separate, dependent variable. That's certainly an
>approach a lot of people insightful people have taken over the years, but
>it does sound "materialist" in the last instance. Or am I misunderstanding

-- jayson perry harsin Dept. of Communication Studies Northwestern University j-harsin at (773)508-4062 WNUR's Southbound Train spins Insurgent Country 89.3 fm Sundays 9:00-11:00 p.m. (listen on the Net at Who are you indeed who would talk

or sing to America? Have you studied out the land,

its idioms and men [and women]?--Walt Whitman

More information about the lbo-talk mailing list