Contemporary articles citing Durkheim E (1965) Elementary Forms Rel
cultural, contemporary, culture, political, well, make, symbols, production, meanings, life
- Santos, Martin. 2009. "Fact-totems and the Statistical Imagination: the Public Life of a Statistic in Argentina 2001." Sociological Theory. 27:4 466-489.
- Statistics are key elements of contemporary life. They figure prominently in the media, in political discourse, and in daily conversations. They also weigh heavily within the economic and political spheres of modern societies. Yet, the study of statistics in the public sphere has been neglected by social scientists in favor of a focus on their production and history. This article remedies this lacuna by focusing on the public life of statistics. Through a case study of a financial indicator-country risk-that exhibited a rich public life in Argentina in 2001, it argues that statistics are not simply transparent fragments of information, but rich symbols and collective representations able to condense multiple meanings and generate deep emotional reactions. Using in-depth interviews, newspaper covers, headlines, and leads, cartoons and archival materials, this article shows that country risk became a powerful collective representation and introduces a new concept, the fact-totem, to make visible the cultural life of statistics. A fact-totem is a statistic with high media presence that captures the imagination of diverse publics and becomes articulated with basic identity narratives of a collectivity. This article begins to elaborate dramatic dimensions of statistics in public.
- Scheff, TJ. 2005. "The Structure of Context: Deciphering Frame Analysis." Sociological Theory. 23:4 368-385.
- This article proposes that Goffman's Frame Analysis can be interpreted as a step toward unpacking the idea of context. His analysis implies a recursive model involving frames within frames. The key problem is that neither Goffman nor anyone else has clearly defined what is meant by a frame. I propose that it can be represented by a word, phrase, or proposition. A subjective context can be represented as an assembly of these items, joined together by operators such as and, since, if, not, and then. Furthermore, this model can be combined with the recursive levels of mutual awareness in earlier approaches to consensus. The combination would represent the intersubjective context: it can be used to find the minimum amount of background that would allow consensual interpretations of discourse. It could also construct a chain that links discourse to the institutional level, the micro-macro pathway from word and gesture to social structure. Goffman hinted that mathematical notation might be used to represent a frame assembly. By adding levels of awareness to such notation, it could represent social facts. Because the use of vernacular words rather than concepts is a problem in social science, Goffman's approach has a general as well as a particular significance.
- Bergesen, AJ. 2004. "Chomsky Versus Mead." Sociological Theory. 22:3 357-370.
- G. H. Mead's model of language and mind, while perhaps understandable at the time it was written, now seems inadequate. First, the research evidence strongly suggests that mental operations exist prior to language onset, conversation of gestures, or social interaction. Second, language is not just significant symbols; it requires syntax. Third, syntax seems to be part of our bioinheritance, that is, part of our presocial mind/brain-what Noam Chomsky has called our language faculty. Fourth, this means syntax probably is not learned nor a social construction that is internalized as a cultural template. Fifth, this suggests a basic reversal of the prevailing model of symbolic interaction, mind, language, and perhaps the self as well, although there has not been the time or space to engage that topic here. Therefore, symbolic interaction may turn out to be a more Chomskyan than Meadian process. Given the bioinheritance of our mind/brain we are able to engage in symbolic interaction; it does not appear that symbolic interaction creates our mind or the basic computational algorithms of language.
- Demerath, L. 2002. "Epistemological Culture Theory: a Micro Theory of the Origin and Maintenance of Culture." Sociological Theory. 20:2 208-226.
- This paper presents a new ``epistemological'' theory of culture that explains how individuals enhance their sense of security in the world by creating and maintaining culture as knowledge of the world. Using cognitive and affective processes previously ignored by culture theorists, the theory posits three dimensions of cultural production: we articulate, typify, and orient our experiences to make their meaningful. The theory asserts that we produce culture because it allows us to,feel as if we understand our world, and to perceive it as ordered; this in turn triggers an aesthetic response of knowledge-based affect. The theory explains how cultural production is motivated by the pursuit of meaningfulness as well as material interests. The theory describes how ail oppressive culture can be reproduced unintentionally, even by the groups it oppresses. The theory also identifies connections between social structure and culture where conditions of ambiguity or control have implications for how meaning can be created.
- Jepperson, RL. 2002. "Political Modernities: Disentangling Two Underlying Dimensions of Institutional Differentiation." Sociological Theory. 20:1 61-85.
- This article recommends that we recover two old contrasts from the history of social thought in order to facilitate the recently renewed discussion of multiple variants of European political modernity. Recovering them greatly aids in clarifying the different ``modernizing'' paths that the European-system polities took during the state-consolidation and nation-building periods of the ``long nineteenth century.'' Specifically, the basic polity forms delineated in this article capture strikingly well the distinctive ``institutional logics'' and political cultures of the Anglo, Nordic, Germanic, and French orbits, legacies enduring through the 1960s and beyond. Clarifying these polity forms also helps in isolating underlying institutional changes occurring in the contemporary (post-World War II) period (current institutional convergence, for example).
- Brint, S. 2001. "Gemeinschaft Revisited: a Critique and Reconstruction of the Community Concept." Sociological Theory. 19:1 1-23.
- Community remains a potent symbol and aspiration in political and intellectual life. However, it has largely passed out of sociological analysis. The paper shows why this has occurred, and it develops a new typology that can make the concept useful again in sociology: The neu typology is based on identifying structurally distinct subtypes of community using a small number of partitioning variables. The first partition is defined by the ultimate context of interaction; the second by the primary motivation for interaction; the third by rates of interaction and location of members; and the fourth by the amount of face-to-face as opposed ro computer-mediated interaction. This small number of partitioning variables yields eight major subtypes of community. The paper shows how and why these major subtypes are related to important variations in the behavioral and organizational outcomes of community. The paper also seeks to resolve some disagreements between classical liberalism and communitarians. It shows that only a few of the major subtypes of community are likely to be as illiberal and intolerant as the selective imagery of classical liberals asserts, while at the same time only a few are prone to generate as much fraternalism and equity as the selective imagery of communitarians suggests. The paper concludes by discussing the forms of community that are best suited to the modern world.
- Goodman, D. 2001. "What Collins's the Sociology of Philosophies Says About Sociological Theory." Sociological Theory. 19:1 92-101.
- In Collins's latest book, we see an attempt to apply his sociological theories to the history of philosophy. While Collins's marcrosociology of knowledge provides important insights into the role of conflict in an intellectual field, his microsociology is more problematic. In particular. Collins's micro theory ignores the fundamental importance of social interpretations. This leads him to use a vague and unproductive notion of emotions. Nevertheless, we can usefully apply Collins's findings to sociological theory itself As in philosophy we see the same competitive appropriation and elaboration of accumulated intellectual capital and the same struggle over the limited resources necessary to intellectual production, especially over what Collins calls the intellectual attention space.
- Ku, AS. 2000. "Revisiting the Notion of ``public'' in Habermas's Theory - Toward a Theory of Politics of Public Credibility." Sociological Theory. 18:2 216-240.
- There exist around the notion of the public three different yet overlapping dichotomies posed on different levels of analysis: public (sphere) versus private (sphere), public versus mass, and publicness versus privacy/secrecy. Habermas's book (1989) incorporates all the three sets of dichotomy without resolving the contradictory meanings and bridging the gaps among them. As a result, his conception of the public sphere becomes paradoxical in terms, and it undertheorizes the cultural properties of publicness. This article proposes all alternative conception of the public that may encompass the structural, institutional, and cultural levels of theorization in a more precise and coherent way. It is argued that the public is an imagined category about citizen membership that is attached to both institutions of state and civil society: In political practices, a symbolic ``public'' is institutionalized through an open communicative space where it is called upon, constructed, and contested as the central source of cultural references. In this connection, a notion of public credibility is introduced as an attempt to bring forth a richer and more dynamic conception about the role of culture in democratic struggles than that of critical rationality by Habermas.
- Lemert, C. 1999. "The Might Have Been and Could Be of Religion in Social Theory." Sociological Theory. 17:3 240-263.
- Religion may well be the most inscrutable surd of social theory, which began late in the 19(th) century dismissing the subject. Not even the renewal of interest in religion in the 1960s did much to make religion a respectable topic in social theory. It is possible that social theory's troubles are, in part, due to its refusal to think about religion. Close examination of social theories of Greek religion suggest, for principal example, that religion is perfectly able to thrive alongside the profane provided both are founded on principles of finitude, which in turn may be said to be the foundational axiom of any socially organized religion. The value of a social theory of religion, thus defined, may be seen as a way out of the current controversies over the politics of redistribution and politics of recognition. Any coherent principles of social justice, whether economic or cultural, may only be possible if one begins with the idea that all human arrangements are, first and foremost, limited - that is to say: finite; hence, strictly speaking, religious. Durkheim got this only partly right.
- Gould, M. 1999. "Race and Theory: Culture, Poverty, and Adaptation to Discrimination in Wilson and Ogbu." Sociological Theory. 17:2 171-200.
- This article provides the theoretical resources to resolve a number of conundrums in the work of William Julius Wilson and John Ogbu. Contrary to what Wilson's and Ogbu's work sometimes imply, inner-city blacks are not enmeshed in a ``culture of poverty,'' but rather are generally committed to mainstream values and their normative expectations. Activities that deviate from these values derive from the cognitive expectations inner-city blacks have formed in the face of their restricted legitimate opportunity structures. These expectations, which suggest that educational and occupational success are improbable for inner-city residents, are accurate. If their opportunities were to improve, their cognitive expectations would change and most would be committed to taking advantage of these new opportunities. The differences that separate the inner-city poor from whites center on cultural symbols, which help constitute their identity, sometimes in opposition to the white majority. Most deficiencies in performance among blacks stem not from these cultural attributes, but from the way they are processed in white-dominated organizations. Given a majority commitment to equal opportunity and a majority belief that blacks actually have equal opportunity, many conclude from their performance that blacks are in some sense inferior. This ``new racism `` overdetermines the performance of blacks.
- Cahill, SE. 1998. "Toward a Sociology of the Person." Sociological Theory. 16:2 131-148.
- This paper proposes a sociology of the person that focuses upon the socially defined, publicly visible beings of intersubjective experience. I argue that the sociology of the person proposed by Durkheim and Mauss is more accurately described as a sociology of institutions of the person and neglects both folk or ethnopsychologies of personhood and the international production of persons. I draw upon the work of Goffman to develop a sociology of the person concerned with means, processes, and relations of person production. I also propose that the work of Goffman, Foucault, and others provides insights into the contemporary technology of person production and into how its control and use affects relations of person production. I conclude with a brief outline of the theoretical connections among institutions of the person, folk psychologies, the social constitution of the person, and the prospect of a distinctively sociological psychology.
- Brekhus, W. 1998. "Sociology of the Unmarked: Redirecting Our Focus." Sociological Theory. 16:1 34-51.
- This article suggests that American sociology has developed a defacto tradition in the sociology of the marked that devotes greater epistemological attention to ``politically salient'' and ``ontologically uncommon'' features of social life, Although the ``unmarked'' comprises the vast majority of social life, the ``marked'' commands a disproportionate share of attention from sociologists. Since the marked already draws more attention within the general culture, social scientists contribute to re-marking and the reproduction of common-sense images of social reality This has important analytic consequences. This article argues for developing a stronger tradition in a sociology of the unmarked that explicitly foregrounds ``politically unnoticed'' and taken-for-granted elements of social reality. Three strategies are proposed toward this end: (1) reversing conventional patterns of markedness to foreground what typically remains unnamed and implicit, (2) marking everything by filling in all the shades of social continue so that each shares the same degree of epistemological ornamentation, and (3) developing an analytically nomadic perspective that observes social phenomena from multiple vantage points.
- Kane, AE. 1997. "Theorizing Meaning Construction in Social Movements: Symbolic Structures and Interpretation During the Irish Land War, 1879-1882." Sociological Theory. 15:3 249-276.
- Though the process of meaning construction is widely recognized to be a crucial factor in the mobilization, unfolding, and outcomes of social movements, the conditions and mechanisms that allow meaning construction and cultural transformation are often misconceptualized and/or underanalyzed. Following a ``tool kit'' perspective on culture, dominant social movement theory locates meaning only as it is embodied in concrete social practices. Meaning construction from this perspective is a matter of manipulating static symbols and meaning to achieve goals. I argue instead that meaning is located in the structure of culture, and that the condition and mechanism of meaning construction and transformation are, respectively, the metaphoric nature of symbolic systems, and individual and collective interpretation of those systems in the face of concrete events. This theory is demonstrated by analyzing, through textual analysis, meaning construction during the Irish Land War 1879-1882, showing how diverse social groups constructed new and emergent symbolic meanings and how transformed collective understandings contributed to specific, yet unpredictable, political action and movement outcomes. The theoretical model and empirical case demonstrates that social movement analysis must examine the metaphoric logic of symbolic systems and the interpretive process by which people construct meaning in order to fully explain the role of culture in social movements, the agency of movement participants, and the contingency of the course and outcomes of social movements.
- Roth, AL. 1995. "`'men Wearing Masks'': Issues of Description in the Analysis of Ritual." Sociological Theory. 13:3 301-327.
- Since Durkheim ( 1965), the concept of ritual has held a privileged position in studies of social life because investigators recurrently have treated it as a source of insight into core issues of human sociality, such as the maintenance of social order Consequently, studies of ritual have typically focused on rituals' function(s), and, specifically whether ritual begets social integration or fragmentation. In this frame, students of ritual have tended to ignore other equally fundamental issues, including (1) how actions, or courses of action, constitute a ritual, and (2) whether ritual is best understood as an aspect of all social action or a specific type of it. Drawing on Durkheim's overlooked contemporary, Van Gennep ( 1960), I argue that analyses of ritual must describe how participants enact an occasion as ritual through distinctive activities and sequences of these. Analysts of ritual must attempt to ground the relevance of their descriptions in the participants' demonstrable orientations, an undertaking with move general implications for the study of social action.
- DURIG, A. 1994. "What Did Langer,susanne Really Mean." Sociological Theory. 12:3 254-265.
- The social philosophy of meaning and emotions represented in the work of Susanne Langer was recognized by Talcott Parsons, but has yet to be incorporated into mainstream sociological theoritizations. Langer's work is as potentially important to contemporary microsociology, and the sociology of emotions, as the work of Peirce, Mead, or Schutz. The impediment to appreciating her work resides in contemporary confusions regarding the nature of logic. Sociologists often subscribe to Wittgenstein's denial of the validity of formal logic in constructing theories of human behavior. Langer has been misunderstood because her theoretizations address more than discursive logics and meanings. The thrust of Langer's work is that logic and meaning exist on a nondiscursive level of emotions. Though her work is more than 50 years old, we are now in a position to appreciate it because we are now exploring and conceptualizing the notion of social inferencing as existing beyond formal logic.