what is social formation?

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Joined: 20-01-09
Feb 14 2009 19:31
what is social formation?

I was wondering if anyone on here was familiar with the concept of social formation. From what I understand it’s attributed to Marx, but it seems to have been most thoroughly developed by Althusser. I’ve attempted to read some Althusser (Reading Capital) and have found him to be quite dense. I’ll continue to consult him on this concept, but I was wondering if anyone here is familiar with another work (in English b/c I can’t read French) that maybe expresses the same concept but in clearer language?

Also, I have read that his reformulation of dialectical materialism remains quite deterministic. I’m wondering if his concept of social formation suffers from this problem as well. Do people know of any alternative concepts that get across the same point but perhaps account more for human agency? Once someone described the concept of social formation and it sounded a lot like Bourdieu’s concept of Habitus. Is this a stretch? Finally, have people found this concept of social formation useful? Any help is greatly appreciated.