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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A superstructure is an upward extension of an existing structure above a baseline. This term is applied both to physical structures like buildings, bridges or ships and to conceptual structures as well (e.g., in social sciences). The word superstructure is a combination of the word super (Latin for above, in addition) with the word structure (also from Latin, meaning to build or to heap up).



In order to improve seismic performance of buildings and bridges, a superstructure may be separated from its basement or footing, called here a substructure, with a system of earthquake protective devices called base isolation.



The RORO ferry Mega Smeralda. This is a good example of a ship with superstructure. The blue-striped white-painted structure that houses the promenade decks stretches across the full length of the vessel is the superstructure. The lower yellow-painted part of the ship is the hull.

As stated above, superstructure is a part of the ship which projects above the main deck. This would not include masts or gun turrets. Superstructure can have many implications on ships, as it can greatly alter its structural rigidity and a vessel’s displacement, which can be detrimental to a ship’s performance if considered incorrectly. The superstructure on a vessel also affects the amount of freeboard that a vessel requires. Very broadly, the more superstructure a ship has (as a fraction of length), the less freeboard is needed.

Social sciences

In social sciences, superstructure is the set of socio-psychological feedback loops that maintain a coherent and meaningful structure in a given society, or part thereof. It can include the culture, institutions, power structures, roles, and rituals of the society. It is that which, through conditioned behaviors (both interpersonal and situational), enforces a set of constraints and guidelines on human activity in a stable and effective fashion, such that it engenders a society's characteristic organization, and it is that characteristic organization itself.

By most sociological schema, superstructure does not refer to the specific materials of an organization, such as a school or a store, but rather to the set of psychological or semantic configurations whereby that structure is rationalized and reproduced in human experience. That is, it is the "invisible force" behind or within the structure, or perhaps, it is the anthropocentric "reason" for the structure.

According to one sociological perspective, superstructure may be revealed by examining the direct interpersonal engagements that take place within canonical (typical) settings or situations, through the hermeneutic of sociobiology.

See also


  • Middleton, Richard (1990/2002). Studying Popular Music. Philadelphia: Open University Press. ISBN 0-335-15275-9.


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