Gramsci, culture and identity politics



A sketch of the historical interpretation of the opposition between universalism and the cult of differences.

The interpretation of culture has been successively linked to different concepts, such as nation, social classes, groups, individuals.

(I) Much has been written about “the national character” of a people or of literature as an expression of the formation of nationality. In the movement for the independence of the colonies in the Americas, for example, literature acquired a political function: forming national ideas.

Claiming the particularity of each national culture was also the argument used against the universalist discourse of human rights, as propagated by the Enlightenment. The opponents of the Third Estate, in Europe, resorted to tradition, customs, folklore, the “spirit of the people”, what is common in a specific country, that is to say, its culture.

Thus began a long-lasting struggle. On the one hand, the defenders of secularism, rationalism, universal human rights and their political (democracy) and philosophical (totalizing thinking) corollary. On the other hand, modern critics of universalism will appeal to particularity, diversity, the right to be different, pluralism, tolerance and its political (liberalism) and philosophical (nominalism) corollary.

(II) But culture also tends to appear linked to different social classes. In Marxist thought, this connection was thought of in different ways.

At an extreme point are the advocates of proletkult with his belief in the existence of a working-class culture. Here, culture and ideology are equated as immediate expressions of class interests. A sophisticated version of the class/culture connection can be found in the work of Lucien Goldmann and his theory of the “homology of structures” – the necessary correlation between social classes and forms of artistic expression.

The equation between culture and ideology gained rigid contours in Althusser and his famous theory about “the ideological apparatuses of the State”. In a way, an analogy can be made between this theory and the old positivism that saw human consciousness shaped integrally by institutions. Readers of Durkheim will remember the coercive role that "collective conscience", embodied in institutions, plays over individual conscience. In a similar way, ideological apparatuses format the consciousness of individuals. There is an undisguised ontologization of ideology in this structuralist version of Marxism: ideologies “speak” through individuals. As a consequence of this deterministic conception, the subject disappears. He, incidentally, is the “subject”, the “interpellated”, the channel through which ideologies flow.

In the Marxist field, the relationship between culture and ideology will be the watershed that will separate Gramsci's disciples from those of Althusser.

The equation between culture and ideology does not exist in Gramsci, an author concerned with seeing how the reality of classes is lived, internalized and expressed. Thinking in this way, Gramsci saw culture in its living relationship with social processes, the power structure and the struggle for hegemony. Culture is no longer a passive reflection of the material base, nor a coherent and closed formation like ideology, but a field of tension where the struggle for hegemony takes place. And whoever speaks of hegemony also speaks of counter-hegemony.

Gramsci thus became the reference for Marxist studies of culture, such as those carried out by Thompson, Williams and Stuart Hall.

This orientation, which linked culture with social classes, will, however, be progressively abandoned. A key figure in this journey is Hall, an author who became the main reference of Cultural Studies. Gramsci continues to be cited, but his thought, as we will see, was “adapted” to culturalist theories.

(III) In his first works, Stuart Hall thought about culture in its relations with the economy, power and social classes. His studies in the 60s on the youth subculture show the sharpening of social inequalities. The then dominant themes in sociology – welfare state, manipulation of the masses, passivity – were contested by Hall in his preoccupation with youth's forms of counter-hegemonic resistance. Even the famous essay on Coding/Decoding pointed to the oppositional resistance that seemed to have the existence of social classes and their struggles as a background.

The turn to postmodernist theses occurred during Thatcherism. Studying this phenomenon, Hall found how it put an end to the theoretical framework of the left. Thatcher attacked the trade union movement head on and the working class did not react for that. From then on, Hall abandoned the classist reference, decreeing the end of “traditional solidarities”, preferring to talk about other forms of identification based on gender and ethnicity to, finally, refer the theme of identity to the individual, the nomadic, floating subject. hybrid, bearer of disparate influences.

This tortuous path ended up bringing him closer to Antonio Negri in the search for social forces capable of resisting globalization: “Not the proletariat, nor the decolonized subject, but above all what Antonio Negri calls “crowds”, diffuse forces. There are all sorts of forces that cannot be unified by what is called the new world order. And I hear those voices in art, in music, in literature, in poetry, in dance. I listen to those voices that still cannot realize themselves as collective social subjects”.

theory without discipline

In this path from social classes to the individual, Gramsci's thought, in Hall, underwent drastic transformations, being replaced by “post-method” or “post-methodology”. The attraction exerted by post-structuralism was explained by Hall as follows: “I like to be eclectic, I would say “illogical”. I don't like to be attached to a single meaning of concepts, I like to take them out of their original positions, see if they manage to work in other perspectives. This is what I call “indeterminate thinking”, I certainly consider myself an “undisciplined” author. Even more so because the world itself has become an “indeterminate” place, where everything intertwines, and cannot be faced with rigid concepts or categories. Interconnection dissolves radical or absolute differences. For this reason, I have been attracted by post-structuralist conceptions of the process of signification”.

“Rigid concepts or categories” basically concern the relations between the material base and the superstructure, and also the “determination in the last instance” by the former. Marx's spatial and dualistic image – base and superstructure – had been contested by Raymond Williams, who does not accept conceiving culture as a reflection of the superstructure. Originally, he says, culture referred to growing, harvesting. The word, therefore, referred to the material practice of men. Thus, art, for example, is not a reflection, but a material product.

His products are materials (book, painting, disc) and the media he works with are also materials (paper, ink, oil). Marx's spatial metaphor, however, reproduces the separation between the material sphere (production) and the superstructure (culture, art). To unify the two spheres, Williams proposes a new conception: “cultural materialism”, which understands culture as a productive force, since, without it, mercantile production does not take place.

Hall, who for so many years worked and lived with Williams, had this materialist, historical and totalizing vision at his disposal. But curiously, he preferred to approach Althusser.

Althusser was one of the first to re-elaborate the category mode of production, which, in Marx, concerned mainly the material base. Mode of production, for Althusser, is a structure formed by three instances: the economic, the juridical-political and the ideological, each endowed with relative autonomy, with its own levels of historicity. The economic basis is ultimately determinant, but another instance may be dominant: in feudalism, the ideological instance; in capitalism, economics is both determinant and dominant.

Thinking this way, Althusser sought to criticize monocausal determinism, the absolute primacy of economics. Social struggles could then be thought of in a broader range. For example: the ideological struggles of the feminist movement or ethnic minorities, whose dynamics cannot be reduced solely to the economic dimension. Marxism, in this way, initiated the shift from the privilege granted to social classes and class struggle to molecular social movements.

In the theoretical field, the path that leads from rigid determinism to the indetermination celebrated by Hall was finally open. Althusser himself referred to the “distant and dim hour” of economic determination. The mode of production, as we have seen, was fragmented by Althusser in order to make the “instances” autonomous. The intention pursued was to get rid of Hegel's “expressive totality” – a whole that is reflected and present in all particular moments. Althusser prefers to speak of “all-complex-structured-already-given” to distance himself from that view that seems simplistic and historicist to him and, thus, highlight the articulation of the different instances.

Yuri Brunello, in a brilliant analysis, observed that Hall intended to transform Gramsci “into a kind of idealizer before its time from the theory of articulations, that is to say, from the vision that Hall derives from Althusser via Laclau, according to which social forces, classes, groups and political movements would not become unitary because of objective economic conditionings and then give way to a unified ideology, but would follow the opposite process. What process?” According to Hall's words, social groups are constituted as political agents through the “ideology that constitutes them”.

It is not the material conditions of existence that make possible the convergence of interests. Hall's dematerialized vision resumes the ontologization of ideology, as advocated by structuralism (Althusser, Pêcheux, Foucault) and reaffirmed by post-structuralists.

Looking retrospectively at the Cultural Studies, Hall risked a definition to account for the heterogeneity of themes and approaches: “the cultural studies they are a discursive formation, in the sense of Foucault”. For this author, discursive formations are part of the “archaeology of knowledge” – a history of thought centered on the analysis of the “rules of formation” through which utterances achieve unity. Scientific discourse is no longer the reproduction of reality, since it is, on the contrary, what constitutes the objects of science.

What interests Foucault is the study of discursive practices, which establish “the conditions for exercising the enunciative function”. Thus, the conception of science as knowledge of the external world, as a rational attempt to reveal the in-itself of reality, leaves the scene. What interests Foucauldian archeology is the understanding of discursive practice, as it is what constructs the objects to be studied. The idea of ​​a referent is not included in this endeavor, as things do not have intrinsic meanings – we are the ones who attribute meanings to them.

The change in theoretical orientation that brought Hall closer to poststructuralism and, as a consequence, to postcolonial studies, had paradoxical results. “Indeterminate thinking”, for example, has allowed followers of Cultural Studies talk about all subjects without the rigors of scientific thinking. “Transdisciplinarity” took the place of interdisciplinarity, since the latter, according to Hall, preserves the “old disciplines”, such as sociology, literary studies, etc. In this way, the absence of discipline is actually celebrated.

A sociological analysis can be done without the control exercised by empirical data; to discuss philosophical themes without the rigor that philosophical thought requires; writing about literature without confronting the text, the context and the specificity of the literary, reduced as it was to a cultural text equivalent to any other; history can also be studied without rigorous comparison with documents and primary sources.

We are, therefore, going astray in the field of discourse and, worse, it is through it that we intend to understand the world around us. Hall's “linguistic turn”, however, coexists with constant references to Gramsci. In addition to being linguistic, the turn is also cultural, since, according to Hall, “contemporary capitalism works through culture”. Gramsci is then summoned to, once again, be an ally in the fight against “essentialism” and economic “determinism” – ghosts that Hall intends to exorcise. That's what we'll see next.

Against “essentialism”: popular culture and the black

Carrying forward the post-structuralist project, Hall intends to deconstruct all fixed referents. This is the case, for example, of “popular culture”: “just as there is no fixed content for “popular culture”, there is no determined subject to which it can be linked – “the people”. The “people” are not always there, where they have always been, with their culture untouched, their freedoms and instincts intact”.

In another essay, Hall analyzes the category “race”. This, traditionally, named and identified a subject. In his deconstructive effort, Hall resorts to the concept of ethnicity to distinguish the various subjectivities covered by the indistinct category “black”. A Jamaican black, like Hall, is not the same as an African or American black. Thus, against “essentialism” he waves to positioning and repositioning. There is no longer a fixed point of support, but rather a sliding hybridity: “blacks in the British diaspora must, at this historic moment, refuse the black or British binary” and adhere to the “black and British” formula, as this is how we move to “the logic of coupling, instead of the logic of binary opposition”. But even these two terms together “do not exhaust our identities”.

We leave, therefore, genetics to enter culture and the vertigo of proliferating differences: from class to people, from this to social groups and individuals. The “essential black” does not exist and, with this conviction, Hall states that “it is to the diversity and not to the homogeneity of the black experience that we must direct our attention”, because “there are other types of difference that locate, situate and position the black people. (...). We are constantly in negotiation, not with a single set of oppositions that always place us in the same relationship with others, but with a series of different positions. Each of them has for us its point of profound subjective identification. This is the most difficult question of the proliferation of the field of identities and antagonisms: they often displace each other”.

The black, as can be seen, is a floating signifier that positions itself and repositions itself according to the different contexts that challenge its subjectivity. Evidently, this conception translates, in terms of cultural studies, the post-structuralist ideas in its movement to affirm differences and criticize “essential” identities.

It is on the latter that the comment in which Hall forces a divergence between Gramsci and Marx turns: “He [Gramsci] never makes the mistake of believing that, since the law of value tends to homogenize labor power throughout capitalist, then it can be assumed that such homogenization exists in a given society. Indeed, I believe that Gramsci's approach leads us to question the validity of this general law in its traditional form, since, precisely, it encourages us to ignore the ways in which the law of value, which operates globally as opposed to merely domestic scale, works through and because of the culturally specific character of the workforce, not – as classical theory would have us suppose – by the systematic erosion of those distinctions as an inevitable part of an epochal trend in world history. […]. We would be better able to understand how the capital regime works through difference and differentiation, rather than through similarity and identity, if we took more seriously into consideration the question of the cultural, social, national, ethnic and gender composition of historically historical forms of work. distinct and specific.

The law of value, once again, is the victim of distorted interpretations. Marx and, before him, classical economics, intended to explain the principle that regulated the exchange between different commodities. What allows comparison between different use values? The reference to necessary labor time – abstract labor – was seen as the best response to a central theme of political economy. The dissolution of qualitative differences in a measure was the solution found, as there is only possible comparison between things that have something in common. This reduction, however, was operated by the market itself and not by Smith, Ricardo and Marx – they only captured, at the conceptual level, a reality posed by the social practice of men. Theory is "true" to thought because it exists in real life. We are in the field of science and ontology and not in discourse.

There are other consequences of the law of value that could be of interest to Hall's cultural and identity concerns.

For Marx, unlike his predecessors, the law of value besides being a measure is also and mainly a theory about reified sociability in the capitalist world. The social character of the different concrete works is only manifested in the commodity-form that homogenizes the differences, reducing the different operative forms to the condition of abstract work. The results of this homogenization also extend to the superstructure, to the cultural level: Adorno had the merit of building the theorization on the cultural industry with reference to the standardization imposed by the law of value that spreads from the economy to all the pores of society.

But, in addition to mercantile exchange and the commodification of culture, the law of value imposes a pattern of sociability that shapes the subjectivity of individuals who cannot recognize the creation of value as a result of their own activity and, therefore, live in a ghostly world. in which things seem to govern reality, a sensation that reinforces a resigned behavior in the face of an incomprehensible world.

Marx, however, showed that workers cannot definitively accommodate themselves to a situation that makes them equal to things. The workforce – the animated commodity – reacts to the inhumanity of the bourgeois world. And their revolt is made possible by the common condition – by equality – to which they were relegated and not by the uncertain and transitory arrangements of cultural, sexual and ethnic variants.

Alienated capitalist sociability is structured on the basis of social contradiction and it is this that sets men in motion. But Hall, on the contrary, prefers to speak of “negotiation”, a term extracted from the mercantile world, to refer to the formation of hybrid identities, which “give each individual, torn and split by the game of capitalism, the illusion of recomposition in a perspective of shared experiences, values ​​and projects”.

 Against determinism: social classes

The celebration of cultural differences, as we have seen, turned against the law of value of classical economics and sought to have an ally in Gramsci. The same argument that sustained this criticism – the refusal to homogenize in the name of differences – reappears in the discussion of social classes. These would not be organized according to the same position in the productive structure.

For Hall, this is a simplistic conception of predetermined unity. For this reason, he prefers to speak of an unstable process of unification, subject to changing “negotiations”: “there is no identity or automatic correspondence between economic, political and ideological practices. This begins to explain how ethnic and racial difference can be constructed as a set of economic, political and ideological antagonisms, within a class that is subjected to more or less similar forms of exploitation…”. The Marxist theory of classes is replaced by “more pluralistic models of stratification”. For this replacement, however, Gramsci is not a good ally.

When Gramsci speaks of social classes and class struggle, he always thinks of the need for unification to be built from material interests: these allow for unity and not ontologized ideology, as understood by structuralism and post-structuralism. Gramsci is explicit: “What is the reference point for the new world in gestation? The world of production, work”.

With this material reference, he brought to Marxism the concept of “general will”, which, in prison notebooks, is often called the “national-popular collective will”. In all senses, the general will puts into effect a principle of universalization, it represents the victory of the common interest over private interests.

Already in Rousseau, one of Gramsci's interlocutors, it is the will of a determined community, the expression of equality, of the pursued common good, which protects individuals against their own passions. A volonté generale it is not identified with the will of all – the sum of particular wills that express private interest.

The concept reappears in Philosophy of law of Hegel, as a result of the objective movement of the Spirit that completes itself in the State (distant view of Rousseau's contractualism). Between private interests and the public interest, there are mediating instances that embody what he calls “ethicality” – the values ​​that historically developed in social life and that make the bridge between private interests (the singular will of individuals) and the will general (which takes place in the State).

Carlos Nelson Coutinho noted that “while for the Genevan thinker the general will results from the ethical effort of citizens to put the general interest above the particular interest, what Hegel calls the “die objektive Will” is the somewhat fatalistic result of the very movement of the Spirit". It would be, let's say, a product of the “cunning of reason”, which, behind the scenes, commands the movement of social life. Coutinho sought to show how Gramsci offers a dialectic overcoming between the subjectivist view of the first and the objectivist view of the second.

For Gramsci, the will has a double determination. Initially, an active role is reserved for the will, an initiative that escapes the blind objectivist determinism of the Hegelian system. The example cited by Carlos Nelson Coutinho is Gramsci's reflection on the “modern Prince” and his conscious action that does not surrender to determinism. But this does not mean capricious voluntarism, an abstract duty driven by the ethical imperative. The will, on the contrary, is guided by the “objective conditions posed by historical reality” – it presupposes, therefore, a “rational” and “concrete” nucleus. Or, as Gramsci says: “the will as an active consciousness of historical necessity, as the protagonist of a real and effective historical drama”.

As can be seen, Gramsci's focus seeks to connect not only individuals with each other but also individuals with the “historical need for a real and effective drama”. There is a clear movement of transcendence: going beyond the present moment, refusing the shackles of iron necessity and, also, the desire for universalization, for overcoming mere individuality, since in this we are restricted to the “will of all”, that is, the sum of of private interests. In the “national-popular collective will”, there is, on the contrary, an overcoming of the private sphere, of economic-corporate interests, which gives rise to an ethical-political conscience. Individuals, then, fully manifest their sociability, they are “social individuals”.

Gramsci resumes this universalization movement when he writes about “the individual man and the mass man”. A multitude of individuals, he says, “dominated by immediate interests or taken by the passion aroused by momentary impressions […] unite in the worst collective decision…”; in these crowds, “individualism is not only not overcome, but it is exasperated…”. In a situation of assembly, on the contrary, “the disorderly and undisciplined elements” are unified “around decisions superior to the individual average: quantity becomes quality”.

Next, Gramsci observes that the collective man of the past existed in the form of charismatic leadership. Thus, “a collective will was obtained under the impulse and immediate suggestion of a “hero”, of a representative man; but this collective will was due to extrinsic factors, continually compounding and breaking down. Today's collective man, on the contrary, is formed essentially from the bottom up, on the basis of the position occupied by the collectivity in the world of production.

With this vision of someone who wants to go beyond the immediate and design the way for a new society and a new culture, Gramsci does not make the superstructure autonomous, much less interpret culture as an insurmountable obstacle between men, an impediment preventing unification. Illustrative of his position is the correspondence with his sister-in-law Tatiana regarding the film “Dois mundos”, which tells the impossibility of love between a young Jewish woman and an Austrian lieutenant. Tatiana watched the film and, writing for Gramsci, commented: “[The film] implies that union is impossible, given that [the lovers] belong to two different worlds. What do you think about? But I really think that the world of one is different from the world of the other, they are two different races, it is true”.

Gramsci's answer, in a harsh tone, expresses his indignation with his sister-in-law's comment: “How can you believe that these two worlds exist? This is a way of thinking worthy of the Black Hundreds, the American Ku Klux Khan or the Nazi swastikas”. In another letter, he returned to the topic: “What does the expression “two worlds” mean? That it is something like two lands that cannot come together and establish communication with each other? […]. How many societies does each individual belong to? And doesn't each of us make continuous efforts to unify our own conception of the world, in which heterogeneous fragments of fossilized cultural worlds continue to subsist? And is there not a general historical process for continually unifying all mankind?”

Such a procedure differs from the route proposed by Hall, which exasperates the differences and, in so doing, keeps individuals trapped in their ethnic, cultural, sexual, etc. particularities. The impulse towards the outside, the reunion of all as members of the human race, as “social individuals”, was replaced by Hall's movement towards the inside, which leads to the endless serial game of differentiation. Thus, relying on Laclau, he was able to state that the universal is an empty sign, “a signifier always in retreat”.

When Gramsci speaks of unification, he does not only think of politics as the way to overcome social contradictions. Culture is also a strategic part of this movement. The concept of national-popular is illustrative, a concept so misunderstood when identified with a narrow nationalism or, then, as a “popular” aesthetic conception overcome by the advent of “international-popular” culture.

The first thing to remember is that for Gramsci the national-popular named an object that did not exist in Italy. In his texts, comparisons with France are common, a country in which writers were public men who expressed popular aspirations. In Italy, on the contrary, there was an abyss separating the writers from the people and the nation. The national-popular, in the Italian context, meant a claim, a path in the struggle for hegemony. The internationalist Gramsci was never a supporter of nationalism: “But it is one thing to be particular, it is another to preach particularism. Herein lies the misconception of nationalism. […]. That is, national is different from nationalism. Goethe was a “national” German. French “national” Stendhal, but neither was a nationalist. An idea is not effective if it is not expressed in some way, artistically, that is, particularly”.

“Nationality is a primary property”, says Gramsci, which is why it can close itself off in particularism or, as the author wants, open itself up to universalization. It is to this last possibility that the national-popular turns – it is a moment of passage for “the entire human race historically unified in a unitary cultural system”.

the historical setting

A final comment would be in order to historically interpret the opposition between universalism and the cult of differences.

Hegel was the first to observe that the idea of ​​the universal was not born in the head of any philosopher. It, on the contrary, was placed within social life before reaching human consciousness. Christianity had the merit of affirming the existence of a single god for all men. Breaking with polytheism, Christianity introduced the universalist principle into social life and, by extension, the idea of ​​equality among men. In doing so, he moved beyond the ancient national and tribal religions that divided humanity into tight, hostile communities, each worshiping “its” god.

The universalist principle and equality among men were Enlightenment banners that informed the Declaration of Human Rights. In the sequence, Marxism began to fight for economic equality among men.

Not coincidentally, the intellectual currents that celebrate irreducible differences are contemporary with the collapse of the socialist world, which, for better or for worse, made equality the objective to be pursued by humanity. In the same period, the Catholic Church abandoned liberation theology while witnessing the rise of evangelical sects and their “prosperity theology”, and of the various fundamentalisms, clinging to intolerant particularism.

Eric Hobsbawn, analyzing the tragedies of the XNUMXth century, was aware of the consequences of defeated equality in historical studies: “The greatest immediate political danger, which threatens current historiography, is constituted by the “anti-universalism” for which “my truth is as valid as yours, whatever the facts.” Anti-universalism naturally seduces the history of identity groups, in its different forms, for which the essential object of history is not what happened, but how what happened concerns the members of a particular group.

In general, what counts for this kind of story is not the rational explanation, but “the meaning”; not, therefore, the event that took place, but the way in which the members of a community, which is defined in opposition to others – in terms of religion, ethnicity, nation, sex, way of life, etc. – realize what happened… The fascination of relativism impacted the history of identity groups”.

Relativism; refusal of the universal; the interpretation instead of the historical event; the dematerialization of reality – these are the main ingredients that make up the repertoire of Cultural Studies and give life to the bad infinity of proliferating differences. This cultural movement, we believe, gained considerable momentum with the “defeat of equality”. This is your regressive aspect.

Stuart Hall, in an interview, ended up acknowledging – Despite him– the superiority of the republican and universalist principle of citizenship. Comparing England and France, he was forced to recognize the importance of the “secular and republican tradition emanating from the French Revolution, a tradition that constitutes the most advanced position on questions of cultural difference. Anyone, no matter who, can belong to French civilization, however little he is integrated. The British never had anything like it. The British could never believe that the whole world could be integrated. And the British have always found a way to ensure the coexistence of Indian laws and British laws, of Indian languages ​​and the English language, etc.

Completing his reasoning, Hall cited a conversation with Aimé Césaire, poet, anti-colonialist activist and the first intellectual to divulge the concept of blackness. When asked about his nationality, he, who was born in Martinique, replied to Hall: “Of course I'm French! How can you ask me this question?”. After more than sixty years living in England, Hall, on the contrary, asserted: “I am not British”, or, rather, “I am a black Brit”.

If universalist principles are currently in decline, as Hall's comment attests, “identity politics”, influenced by culturalist ideas, are present and active in several countries.

While these identity policies remain prisoners of an autonomous conception of culture that glorifies hybrid individuals, the structural crisis of capitalism continues at a frenetic pace, disorganizing social solidarity and neutralizing the revolutionary potential of so-called minorities. Immigration to developed countries has its reason for being outside the heavenly world of culture, as a consequence of the primacy of financial capital and the process of globalization.

“Multiculturalism has failed,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The multicultural society, far from promoting harmony and integration, was shaken by the crisis of capital. The social conflicts, unrest and terrorist actions attributed to immigrants, and the xenophobic reaction have nothing to do with the “clash of civilizations” and clashes between cultures, “textual struggles” etc., but rather with the precarious conditions experienced by immigrants in the new country , conditions summarized in the phrase “living side by side, instead of living together”. Similarly, the North American cultural “melting pot” resulted in non-assimilation and the creation of ghettos.

The celebration of hybridity has shifted the focus from Welfare State deregulation and its deleterious effects to “textual struggles” and the quest for recognition of fragmented individuals and social groups. The material condition is the background for understanding the situation of culture, and not the “displacements”, “symbolic re-significations” and “negotiations” that run falsely in the subjective sphere.

*Celso Frederico is a retired senior professor at ECA-USP. Author, among other books, of Essays on Marxism and Culture (Morula).


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