According to Marx, the social structure plays a significant role in shaping the consciousness of an individual. He asserts that the individual’s values and traits are attained from the society. He brings the two theoretical concepts of base and superstructure to explain the values within a society. The base alludes to relations and forces of production like materials, people, resources, relationships between these elements and the role each plays. The superstructure is a product of the base and involves all other aspects of the society like ideologies, culture, identities, social institutions, norms and values and political structure. Any change in the superstructure must of necessity emanate from a significant change in the base. The final element is the individual values, beliefs and social inclinations that are a product of the superstructure.
From a sociological perspective, the base and superstructure are not static or naturally occurring, but they are social constructs made by social interactions and processes that are constantly evolving and shifting. This explains the change that happened in the social structure following the shift from feudalist society to a capitalistic one. Hegel, a German philosopher, describes this in the argument that a dominant idea (thesis) produces an antithesis, which is an opposing idea, resulting in synthesis, which is a higher idea than the initial one. Also, as a result of that change, historical materialism becomes central given that what people are able to produce determines anything else in the society. However, over time Marx asserted that the base is bound to change in the dialect materialism through negation thus generating a new base and subsequent a new superstructure. Therefore, the changes are interdependent with both the base and the superstructure elements of each other. From Marx theoretical argument, those in power to control the factors of production control the social aspects and thus individual values and thought processes.