City Kid Struggles: The Reflection and Reproduction of Base and Superstructure with in the ‘Slums’ of NYC

Our Cafe Discussion this week consisted of our perspectives of Raymon Williams “Base and Superstructure in Marxist Cultural Theory.” From our understanding superstructure of a society, the sources of legitimacy of our Ideologies through means of social convention is reflected and reproduces in the base, the modes of production and carried out through members of the society. Kasia,  Pipe, and I though that it would be interesting to think of ways in which this theory is played out in our respective neighborhood  within  New York City. He notices that the socio-economic backgrounds of our neighborhoods affected our encounters with levels of the superstructure and to what extent it reflected the standard, as established by the hegemonic ‘majority’ of the united states. These factors played a role in the diversity of our education system, financial stability and opportunities in comparison to our peers at St. Lawrence University.

We noticed that the social taboo of discussing discrimination and unequal opportunity, has created differences politically and economically, affecting our education quality and experience. The Hegemonic/ Stereotypical view of a certain group of people of specific origin or economic background are shaped by the dominant groups of america. As New Yorker’s we see this in expressions based off of Ideological views such as “People who speak like ‘X’ are not intelligent,” or “People who live in the Projects are Ghetto.” The reflection and modes of reproduction in this case has negatively impacted member of the society like Pipe, Kasia, and I, whom are minorities within the community. The overall structure of capitalist America allows for this variation in effects of the superstructure  and base. This inequality of resources showed a correlation between education and security needed within our high schools. Pipe and I , both had metal detectors and a screening process to go through everyday when entering the premises, while Kasia’s high school did not.The factors of resource distribution also reflected in the curriculum  and graduation rates. This social inequality reflected the mistreatment of residential and public areas with in the community and the cities effort to restore it. The management of the dominant views of New York in regards to minorities have completed a cycle of reflection and reproduction of false consciousness for people that are not aware of their internalized oppression and poverty. Kasia stated that her classmates were not aware of the poverty and statistics about their community until after watching a PBS documentary on Harlem. These views later spiral into acts of discrimination and internalized views of separation of “us vs them” and we have allowed it to create a self consciousnesses that forces us to change how we speak and present our selves to fit into the hegemonic idea. And to shift from our subculture and wrong ways of expression.

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Standard English and conforming to the hegemony of America.

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Base and Superstruction



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