Reading the Past: Current Approaches to Interpretation in Archaeology

By Ian Hodder; Scott Hutson | Go to book overview

4
Marxism and ideology

The main concern in this chapter is to examine the contribution of Marxist archaeology to the understanding of social and ideological relations. In considering social structures in this context, the contrast with processual approaches again needs to be identified. In this chapter the term social structure does not mean the pattern of roles and relationships; rather it refers to the scheme of productive interactions which lies behind that pattern. However, our concern here is not to debate the full width of Marxist archaeology, which has been adequately covered elsewhere (Spriggs 1984; Trigger 1984; McGuire 1992; Kristiansen and Rowlands 1998). Rather, we wish briefly to outline the types of social structure that have been identified in Marxist archaeology, before considering Marxist archaeological discussions of ideology.


Marxist archaeology

Here we return to materialism, although some Marxist archaeologists would now claim to avoid the materialist/idealist split (Spriggs 1984). We shall see below that such claims can rarely be substantiated in archaeology, and the similarity with processual archaeology is clear in this respect. Rather, it is in the Marxist incorporation of the notion of structure that the major break with processual archaeology occurs. This is not to argue that Marxist archaeology avoids functional arguments, because we shall see below that it does not. What is new is an additional component, that all social practices involve dialectical relationships: the development of society occurs through the unity of opposites. Underlying the visible social system are relationships which embody incompatibilities, which are made compatible and which generate change. It is thus to the realm of contradiction and conflict

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Reading the Past: Current Approaches to Interpretation in Archaeology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface to the First Edition xi
  • Preface to the Second Edition xv
  • Preface to the Third Edition xvii
  • 1: The Problem 1
  • 2: Processual and Systems Approaches 20
  • 3: Structuralist, Post-Structuralist and Semiotic Archaeologies 45
  • 4: Marxism and Ideology 75
  • 5: Agency and Practice 90
  • 6: Embodied Archaeology 106
  • 7: Archaeology and History 125
  • 8: Contextual Archaeology 156
  • 9: Post-Processual Archaeology 206
  • 10: Conclusion: Archaeology as Archaeology 236
  • Bibliography 248
  • Index 284
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