The Meanings of Social Life

A Cultural Sociology

Author: Jeffrey C. Alexander

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

ISBN: 0195306406

Category: Social Science

Page: 296

View: 3262

Presents an approach to how culture works in societies. Exposing our everyday myths and narratives in a series of empirical studies that range from Watergate to the Holocaust, this work shows how these unseen cultural structures translate into concrete actions and institutions.
Posted in Social Science

The Meanings of Social Life

A Cultural Sociology

Author: Jeffrey C. Alexander

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0190207574

Category: Social Science

Page: 312

View: 5155

In The Meanings of Social Life , Jeffrey Alexander presents a new approach to how culture works in contemporary societies. Exposing our everyday myths and narratives in a series of empirical studies that range from Watergate to the Holocaust, he shows how these unseen yet potent cultural structures translate into concrete actions and institutions. Only when these deep patterns of meaning are revealed, Alexander argues, can we understand the stubborn staying power of violence and degradation, but also the steady persistence of hope. By understanding the darker structures that restrict our imagination, we can seek to transform them. By recognizing the culture structures that sustain hope, we can allow our idealistic imaginations to gain more traction in the world. A work that will transform the way that sociologists think about culture and the social world, this book confirms Jeffrey Alexander's reputation as one of the major social theorists of our day.
Posted in Social Science

The Meanings of Social Life

A Cultural Sociology

Author: Jeffrey C. Alexander

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 9780198036463

Category: Social Science

Page: 312

View: 7409

In The Meanings of Social Life , Jeffrey Alexander presents a new approach to how culture works in contemporary societies. Exposing our everyday myths and narratives in a series of empirical studies that range from Watergate to the Holocaust, he shows how these unseen yet potent cultural structures translate into concrete actions and institutions. Only when these deep patterns of meaning are revealed, Alexander argues, can we understand the stubborn staying power of violence and degradation, but also the steady persistence of hope. By understanding the darker structures that restrict our imagination, we can seek to transform them. By recognizing the culture structures that sustain hope, we can allow our idealistic imaginations to gain more traction in the world. A work that will transform the way that sociologists think about culture and the social world, this book confirms Jeffrey Alexander's reputation as one of the major social theorists of our day.
Posted in Social Science

Fin de Siècle Social Theory

Relativism, Reduction, and the Problem of Reason

Author: Jeffrey C. Alexander

Publisher: Verso

ISBN: 9781859840917

Category: Social Science

Page: 231

View: 965

In four closely interwoven studies, Jeffrey Alexander identifies the central dilemma that provokes contemporary social theory and proposes a new way to resolve it. The dream of reason that marked the previous fin de siècle foundered in the face of the cataclysms of the twentieth century, when war, revolution, and totalitarianism came to be seen as themselves products of reason. In response there emerged the profound skepticism about rationality that has so starkly defined the present fin de siècle. From Wittgenstein through Rorty and postmodernism, relativism rejects the very possibility of universal standards, while for both positivism and neo-Marxists like Bourdieu, reductionism claims that ideas simply reflect their social base. In a readable and spirited argument, Alexander develops the alternative of a "neo-modernist" position that defends reason from within a culturally centered perspective while remaining committed to the goal of explaining, not merely interpreting, contemporary social life. On the basis of a sweeping reinterpretation of postwar society and its intellectuals, he suggests that both antimodernist radicalism and postmodernist resignation are now in decline; a more democratic, less ethnocentric and more historically contingent universalizing social theory may thus emerge. Developing in his first two studies a historical approach to the problem of "absent reason," Alexander moves via a critique of Richard Rorty to construct his case for "present reason." Finally, focusing on the work of Pierre Bourdieu, he provokes the most sustained critical reflection yet on this influential thinker. Fin de Siecle Social Theory is a tonic intervention in contemporary debates, showing how social and cultural theory can properly take the measure of the extraordinary times in which we live.
Posted in Social Science

Performance and Power

Author: Jeffrey C. Alexander

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0745655661

Category: Literary Criticism

Page: 232

View: 2419

Performativity has emerged as a critical new idea across the humanities and social sciences, from literary and cultural studies to the study of gender and the philosophy of action. In this volume, Jeffrey Alexander demonstrates how performance can reorient our study of politics and society. Alexander develops a cultural pragmatics that shifts cultural sociology from texts to gestural meanings. Positioning social performance between ritual and strategy, he lays out the elements of social performance - from scripts to mise-en-scène, from critical mediation to audience reception - and systematically describes their tense interrelation. This is followed by a series of empirically oriented studies that demonstrate how cultural pragmatics transforms our approach to power. Alexander brings his new theory of social performance to bear on case studies that range from political to cultural power: Barack Obama's electoral campaign, American failure in the Iraqi war, the triumph of the Civil Rights Movement, terrorist violence on September 11th, public intellectuals, material icons, and social science itself. This path-breaking work by one of the world's leading social theorists will command a wide interdisciplinary readership.
Posted in Literary Criticism

The Oxford Handbook of Cultural Sociology

Author: Jeffrey C. Alexander,Ronald N. Jacobs,Philip Smith

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0195377761

Category: Social Science

Page: 818

View: 4185

Explains the social science of cultural sociology, a study of the ways in which culture, society, politics, and economy interact in the world.
Posted in Social Science

The Social Life of Things

Commodities in Cultural Perspective

Author: Arjun Appadurai

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

ISBN: 9780521357265

Category: Political Science

Page: 329

View: 7724

The contributors to this volume examine how things are sold and traded in a variety of social and cultural settings, both present and past. Bridging the disciplines of social history, cultural anthropology, and economics, the volume marks a major step in our understanding of the cultural basis of economic life and the sociology of culture.
Posted in Political Science

Iconic Power

Materiality and Meaning in Social Life

Author: J. Alexander,D. Bartmanski,B. Giesen,Dominik Bartma?ski

Publisher: Springer

ISBN: 1137012862

Category: Social Science

Page: 262

View: 1399

A collection of original articles that explore social aspects of the phenomenon of icon. Having experienced the benefits and realized the limitations of so called 'linguistic turn', sociology has recently acknowledged a need to further expand its horizons.
Posted in Social Science

Culture as a Vocation

Sociology of career choices in cultural management

Author: Vincent Dubois

Publisher: Routledge

ISBN: 1317590880

Category: Social Science

Page: 146

View: 4805

Vocational occupations are attractive not so much for their material rewards as for the prestige and self-fulfillment they confer. They require a strong personal commitment, which can be subjectively experienced in terms of passion and selflessness. The choice of a career in the cultural sector provides a good example of this. What are the terms of this calling? What predisposes individuals to answer it? What are the meanings of such a choice? To answer these questions, this book focuses on would-be cultural managers. By identifying their social patterns, by revealing the resources, expectations and visions of the world they invest in their choice, it sheds new light on these occupations. In these intermediary and indeterminate social positions, family heritages intersect with educational strategies, aspirations of upward mobility with tactics against downward mobility, and social critique with adjustment strategies. Ultimately the study of career choices in cultural management suggests a new take on the analysis of social reproduction and on the embodiment of the new spirit of capitalism. The empirical findings of this research conducted in France are set in a broader comparative perspective, at the European level and with the USA.
Posted in Social Science

The Social Life of Water

Author: John R. Wagner

Publisher: Berghahn Books

ISBN: 0857459678

Category: Nature

Page: 326

View: 9597

Everywhere in the world communities and nations organize themselves in relation to water. We divert water from rivers, lakes, and aquifers to our homes, workplaces, irrigation canals, and hydro-generating stations. We use it for bathing, swimming, recreation, and it functions as a symbol of purity in ritual performances. In order to facilitate and manage our relationship with water, we develop institutions, technologies, and cultural practices entirely devoted to its appropriation and distribution, and through these institutions we construct relations of class, gender, ethnicity, and nationality. Relying on first-hand ethnographic research, the contributors to this volume examine the social life of water in diverse settings and explore the impacts of commodification, urbanization, and technology on the availability and quality of water supplies. Each case study speaks to a local set of issues, but the overall perspective is global, with representation from all continents.
Posted in Nature

The Social Life of Money

Author: Nigel Dodd

Publisher: Princeton University Press

ISBN: 1400880866

Category: Social Science

Page: 464

View: 728

Questions about the nature of money have gained a new urgency in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. Even as many people have less of it, there are more forms and systems of money, from local currencies and social lending to mobile money and Bitcoin. Yet our understanding of what money is—and what it might be—hasn't kept pace. In The Social Life of Money, Nigel Dodd, one of today’s leading sociologists of money, reformulates the theory of the subject for a postcrisis world in which new kinds of money are proliferating. What counts as legitimate action by central banks that issue currency and set policy? What underpins the right of nongovernmental actors to create new currencies? And how might new forms of money surpass or subvert government-sanctioned currencies? To answer such questions, The Social Life of Money takes a fresh and wide-ranging look at modern theories of money. One of the book’s central concerns is how money can be wrested from the domination and mismanagement of banks and governments and restored to its fundamental position as the "claim upon society" described by Georg Simmel. But rather than advancing yet another critique of the state-based monetary system, The Social Life of Money draws out the utopian aspects of money and the ways in which its transformation could in turn transform society, politics, and economics. The book also identifies the contributions of thinkers who have not previously been thought of as monetary theorists—including Nietzsche, Benjamin, Bataille, Deleuze and Guattari, Baudrillard, Derrida, and Hardt and Negri. The result provides new ways of thinking about money that seek not only to understand it but to change it. Complete with a new preface that discusses recent developments in the evolution of money, the book draws out the ways in which its transformation could in turn radically alter society, politics, and economics.
Posted in Social Science

Trauma

A Social Theory

Author: Jeffrey C. Alexander

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0745661351

Category: Psychology

Page: 240

View: 2549

In this book Jeffrey C. Alexander develops an original social theory of trauma and uses it to carry out a series of empirical investigations into social suffering around the globe. Alexander argues that traumas are not merely psychological but collective experiences, and that trauma work plays a key role in defining the origins and outcomes of critical social conflicts. He outlines a model of trauma work that relates interests of carrier groups, competing narrative identifications of victim and perpetrator, utopian and dystopian proposals for trauma resolution, the performative power of constructed events, and the distribution of organizational resources. Alexander explores these processes in richly textured case studies of cultural-trauma origins and effects, from the universalism of the Holocaust to the particularism of the Israeli right, from postcolonial battles over the Partition of India and Pakistan to the invisibility of the Rape of Nanjing in Maoist China. In a particularly controversial chapter, Alexander describes the idealizing discourse of globalization as a trauma-response to the Cold War. Contemporary societies have often been described as more concerned with the past than the future, more with tragedy than progress. In Trauma: A Social Theory, Alexander explains why.
Posted in Psychology

Meanings of Life in Contemporary Ireland

Webs of Significance

Author: T. Inglis

Publisher: Springer

ISBN: 1137413727

Category: Social Science

Page: 250

View: 5281

The struggle to create and sustain meaning in our everyday lives is fought using cultural ingredients to spin the webs of meaning that keep us going. To help reveal the complexity and intricacy of the webs of meaning in which they are suspended, Tom Inglis interviewed one-hundred people in their native home of Ireland to discover what was most important and meaningful for them in their lives. Inglis believes language is a medium: there is never an exact correspondence between what is said and what is felt and understood. Using a variety of theoretical lenses developed within sociology and anthropology, Inglis places their lives within the context of Ireland's social and cultural transformations, and of longer-term processes of change such as increased globalisation, individualisation, and informalisation.
Posted in Social Science

Meanings of Life

Author: Roy F. Baumeister

Publisher: Guilford Press

ISBN: 9780898625318

Category: Psychology

Page: 426

View: 1768

Who among us has not at some point asked, what is the meaning of life?' In this extraordinary book, an eminent social scientist looks at the big picture and explores what empirical studies from diverse fields tell us about the human condition. MEANINGS OF LIFE draws together evidence from psychology, history, anthropology, and sociology, integrating copious research findings into a clear and conclusive discussion of how people attempt to make sense of their lives. In a lively and accessible style, emphasizing facts over theories, Baumeister explores why people desire meaning in their lives, how these meanings function, what forms they take, and what happens when life loses meaning. It is the most comprehensive examination of the topic to date.
Posted in Psychology

The Civil Sphere

Author: Jeffrey C. Alexander

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0199708959

Category: Social Science

Page: 816

View: 3794

What binds societies together and how can these social orders be structured in a fair way? Jeffrey C. Alexander's masterful work, The Civil Sphere, addresses this central paradox of modern life. Feelings for others--the solidarity that is ignored or underplayed by theories of power or self-interest--are at the heart of this novel inquiry into the meeting place between normative theories of what we think we should do and empirical studies of who we actually are. Solidarity, Alexander demonstrates, creates inclusive and exclusive social structures and shows how they can be repaired. It is not perfect, it is not absolute, and the horrors which occur in its lapses have been seen all too frequently in the forms of discrimination, genocide, and war. Despite its worldly flaws and contradictions, however, solidarity and the project of civil society remain our best hope: the antidote to every divisive institution, every unfair distribution, every abusive and dominating hierarchy. This grand, sweeping statement and rigorous empirical investigation is a major contribution to our thinking about the real but ideal world in which we all reside.
Posted in Social Science

Culture and Society

Contemporary Debates

Author: Jeffrey C. Alexander,Steven Seidman

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

ISBN: 9780521359399

Category: Social Science

Page: 375

View: 3825

This volume brings together the major statements by the leading contemporary scholars of cultural analysis on the relation between culture and society. Part One surveys the range of current analytical debate over culture, focusing on the relationship of culture to social structure and power. While individual contributions differ in defining the nature of culture and its relation to society, they are in agreement in assessing the relative autonomy of culture and the centrality of symbolic analysis. Part Two turns to substantive debates, including those over the role of religion, secular ideology, and mass culture and brings to light disputes about the meaning of modernity. The book testifies to the remarkable development in the past two decades of a cultural paradigm for social and political analysis.
Posted in Social Science

The Drama of Social Life

A Dramaturgical Handbook

Author: Charles Edgley

Publisher: Routledge

ISBN: 1317035267

Category: Social Science

Page: 356

View: 7859

Whatever else they may be doing, human beings are also and always expressing themselves whenever they are in the awareness of others. As such, the metaphor of life as theater - of people playing roles to audiences who review them and then coordinate further action - is an ancient idea that has been resurrected by social scientists as an organizing simile for the analysis and understanding of social life. The Drama of Social Life examines this dramaturgical approach to social life, bringing together the latest original work from leading contemporary dramaturgical thinkers across the social sciences. Thematically organized, it explores: ¢ the work of classical and contemporary thinkers who have contributed most to this theoretical framework ¢ the foundational concepts of the dramaturgical approach ¢ a rich array of substantive areas of empirical investigation to which dramaturgy continues to contribute ¢ directions for future dramaturgical thinking. An indispensable collection that updates and extends the dramaturgical framework, The Drama of Social Life will appeal to scholars and students of sociology, social psychology, performance studies, cultural studies, communication, film studies, and anthropology - and all those interested in the work of Goffman and symbolic interactionist theory and practice.
Posted in Social Science

Thinking Through Methods

A Social Science Primer

Author: John Levi Martin

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

ISBN: 022643172X

Category: Reference

Page: 279

View: 8112

Sharpen your tools -- How to formulate a question -- How do you choose a site? -- Talking to people -- Hanging out -- Ethics in research -- Comparing -- Dealing with documents -- Interpreting it and writing it up
Posted in Reference

Culture and Society, 1780-1950

Author: Raymond Williams

Publisher: Columbia University Press

ISBN: 9780231057011

Category: Literary Criticism

Page: 362

View: 3268

The romantic artist - Mill on bentham and coleridge - Thomas carlyle - The industrial novels - J.H. Newman and Matthew Arnold - Art and society - Interregnum - Twentieth-century opinions.
Posted in Literary Criticism

Culture and Power

The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu

Author: David Swartz

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

ISBN: 022616165X

Category: Social Science

Page: 342

View: 8682

Pierre Bourdieu is one of the world's most important social theorists and is also one of the great empirical researchers in contemporary sociology. However, reading Bourdieu can be difficult for those not familiar with the French cultural context, and until now a comprehensive introduction to Bourdieu's oeuvre has not been available. David Swartz focuses on a central theme in Bourdieu's work—the complex relationship between culture and power—and explains that sociology for Bourdieu is a mode of political intervention. Swartz clarifies Bourdieu's difficult concepts, noting where they have been misinterpreted by critics and where they have fallen short in resolving important analytical issues. The book also shows how Bourdieu has synthesized his theory of practices and symbolic power from Durkheim, Marx, and Weber, and how his work was influenced by Sartre, Levi-Strauss, and Althusser. Culture and Power is the first book to offer both a sympathetic and critical examination of Bourdieu's work and it will be invaluable to social scientists as well as to a broader audience in the humanities.
Posted in Social Science