Valentin Voloshinov

Deceased Person

1895 – 1936

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Who was Valentin Voloshinov?

Valentin Nikolaevich Voloshinov was a Soviet/Russian linguist, whose work has been influential in the field of literary theory and Marxist theory of ideology.

Written in the late 1920s in the USSR, Voloshinov's Marxism and the Philosophy of Language attempts to incorporate the field of linguistics into Marxism. The book's main inspiration, however, does not come from previous Marxists, whom Voloshinov saw as largely indifferent towards the study of language. Instead, Voloshinov's theories are built on critical engagement with Wilhelm von Humboldt's concept of language as a continuous creative or 'generative' process, and with the view of language as a sign-system posited by Ferdinand de Saussure. To some extent, Voloshinov's linguistic thought is also mediated by the analyses of his Soviet contemporary Nikolai Marr, and by the work of the Crocean linguist Karl Vossler.

For Voloshinov, language is the medium of ideology, and cannot be separated from ideology. Ideology, however, is not to be understood in the classical Marxist sense as an illusory mental phenomenon which arises as a reflex of a "real" material economic substructure. Language, as a socially constructed sign-system, is what allows consciousness to arise, and is in itself a material reality. Because of this belief that language and human consciousness are closely related, Voloshinov holds that the study of verbal interaction is key to understanding social psychology. Voloshinov further argues for understanding psychological mechanisms within a framework of ideological function in his book Freudianism: A Marxist critique

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Born
Jun 30, 1895
Saint Petersburg
Died
Jun 13, 1936

Submitted
on July 23, 2013

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