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dominant / residual / emergent


Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405168908.2010.x


Raymond W illiams defined and discussed these concepts explicitly in Marxism and Literature (1977), though similar ideas about cultural power relationships and the processes of change can be traced back to Culture and Society (1958). His argument that a culture is composed of a set of relations between dominant, residual, and emergent forms is a way of emphasizing the uneven and dynamic quality of any particular moment. It represents a shift away from more monumental epochal analyses of history in the manner of H egel and L ukács , where periods or stages of history succeed one another and each epoch is characterized by a dominant mode or spirit of the times. Williams argued that it is possible to make general distinctions between different periods of history based on modes of production between “feudal” and “bourgeois,” for example, or “capitalist” and “late capitalist.” However, he pointed out that these dominant formations are in themselves too broad and need to be further broken down into differentiated moments. Moreover, each epoch not only consists of different variations and stages, but at every point is also composed of a process of dynamic, contradictory relationships in the interplay of dominant, residual, and emergent forms. This opens up a space to analyze the role that subversive and oppositional identities and movements play within the dominant culture, and how ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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