Contemporary articles citing Geertz C (1973) Interpretation Cultu

cultural, culture, concept, meaning, studies, provides, empirical, understanding, structure, others

Tavory, Iddo. 2011. "The Question of Moral Action: a Formalist Position*." Sociological Theory. 29:4 272-293. Link
This article develops a research position that allows cultural sociologists to compare morality across sociohistorical cases. In order to do so, the article suggests focusing analytic attention on actions that fulfill the following criteria: (a) actions that define the actor as a certain kind of socially recognized person, both within and across fields; (b) actions that actors experienceor that they expect others to perceiveas defining the actor both intersituationally and to a greater extent than other available definitions of self; and (c) actions to which actors either have themselves, or expect others to have, a predictable emotional reaction. Such a position avoids both a realist moral sociology and descriptive-relativism, and provides sociologists with criteria for comparing moral action in different cases while staying attuned to social and historical specificity.

Fuhse, Jan. 2009. "The Meaning Structure of Social Networks." Sociological Theory. 27:1 51-73. Link
This essay proposes to view networks as sociocultural structures. Following authors from Leopold von Wiese and Norbert Elias to Gary Alan Fine and Harrison White, networks are configurations of social relationships interwoven with meaning. Social relationships as the basic building blocks of networks are conceived of as dynamic structures of reciprocal (but not necessarily symmetric) expectations between alter and ego. Through their transactions, alter and ego construct an idiosyncratic ``relationship culture'' comprising symbols, narratives, and relational identities. The coupling of social relationships to networks, too, is heavily laden with meaning. The symbolic construction of persons is one instance of this coupling. Another instance is the application of social categories (like race or gender), which both map and structure social networks. The conclusion offers an agenda for research on this ``meaning structure of social networks.''.

Hoffman, SG. 2006. "How to Punch Someone and Stay Friends: an Inductive Theory of Simulation." Sociological Theory. 24:2 170-193. Link
One way to study ontology is to assess how people differentiate real activities from others, and a good case is how groups organize simulation. However, social scientists have tended to discuss simulation in more limited ways, either as a symptom of postmodernism or as an instrumental artifact. Missing is how groups organize simulations to prepare for the future. First, I formulate a definition of simulation as a group-level technique, which includes the qualities of everyday ontology, playfulness, risk and consequence reduction, constrained innovation, and transportability. Next, I use ethnographic data collected at an amateur boxing gym to argue that simulations simplify the most risky, unpredictable, and interpersonal aspects of a consequential performance. The problem is that a simulation can rarely proceed exactly like the reality it is derived from. For example, boxers hold back in sparring but should not in competition. The effectiveness of a simulation therefore depends on how robust the model is and how well members translate the imperfect fit between the contextual norms of the simulation and its reality.

Besecke, K. 2005. "Seeing Invisible Religion: Religion as a Societal Conversation About Transcendent Meaning." Sociological Theory. 23:2 179-196. Link
Contemporary sociology conceptualizes religion along two dimensions: the institutional and the individual. Lost in this dichotomy is religion's noninstitutional, but collective and public, cultural dimension. As a result, theories of religious modernity, including both sides of the secularization debate, are unable to recognize or evaluate the social power of noninstitutionalized religious communication. This article offers a reconceptualization of religion that highlights its cultural, communicative dimension. Original research on religious talk provides an empirical ground for a theoretical discussion that highlights: (1) the ``invisible'' nature of religion in modern societies, as theorized by Thomas Luckmann and (2) the social power attributed to communication by contemporary cultural sociologists and cultural theorists. I argue that conceptualizing religion as an evolving societal conversation about transcendent meaning broadens the empirical and theoretical grasp of the religion concept.

Alexander, JC. 2004. "Cultural Pragmatics: Social Performance Between Ritual and Strategy." Sociological Theory. 22:4 527-573. Link
Front its very beginnings, the social study of culture has been polarized between structuralist theories that treat meaning as a text and investigate the patterning that provides relative autonomy and pragmatist theories that treat meaning as emerging from the contingencies of individual and collective action-so-called practices-and that analyze cultural patterns as reflections of power and material interest. In this article, I present a theory of cultural pragmatics that transcends this division, bringing meaning structures, contingency, power, and materiality together in a new way. My argument is that the materiality of practices should be replaced by the more multidimensional concept Of performances. Drawing on the new field of performance studies, cultural pragmatics demonstrates how social performances, whether individual or collective, can be analogized systematically to theatrical ones. After defining the elements of social performance, I suggest that these elements have become ``de-fased'' as societies have become more complex. Performances are successful only insofar as they can ``re-fuse'' these increasingly disentangled elements. In a fused performance, audiences identify with actors, and cultural effective mise-en-scene. Performances fail when this scripts achieve verisimilitude through rethinking process is incomplete: the elements of performance remain, apart, and social action seems inauthentic and artificial, failing to persuade. Refusion, by contrast, allows actors to communicate the meanings of their actions successfully and thus to pursue their interests effectively.

Steinmetz, G. 2004. "Odious Comparisons: Incommensurability, the Case Study, and ``small N's'' in Sociology." Sociological Theory. 22:3 371-400. Link
Case studies and ``small-N comparisons'' have been attacked from two directions, positivist and incommensurabilist. At the same time, some authors have defended small-N comparisons as allowing qualitative researchers to attain a degree of scientificity, yet they also have rejected the case study as merely ``idiographic.'' Practitioners of the case study sometimes agree with these critics, disavowing all claims to scientificity. A related set of disagreements concerns the role and nature of social theory in sociology, which sometimes is described as useless and parasitic and other times as evolving in splendid isolation from empirical research. These three forms of sociological activity-comparative analysis, studies of individual cases, and social theory-are defended here from the standpoint of critical realism. In this article I first reconstruct, in very broad strokes, the dominant epistemological and ontological framework of postwar U.S. sociology. The next two sections discuss several positivist and incommensurabilist criticisms of comparison and case studies. The last two sections propose an understanding of comparison as operating along two dimensions, events and structures, and offer an illustration of the difference and relationship between the two.

Hallett, T. 2003. "Symbolic Power and Organizational Culture." Sociological Theory. 21:2 128-149. Link
With the recent wave of corporate scandals, organizational culture has regained relevance in politics and the media, However, to acquire enduring utility, the concept needs an overhaul to overcome the weaknesses of earlier approaches. As such, this paper reconceptualizes organizational culture as a negotiated order (Strauss 1978) that emerges through interactions between participants, an order influenced by those with the symbolic power to define the situation. I stress the complementary contributions of theorists of,practice (Bourdieu and Swidler) and theorists of interaction (Goffman and Strauss), building upward from practice into interaction, symbolic power, and the negotiated order. Using data from initial reports on the fall of Arthur Andersen and Co., I compare this symbolic power approach to other approaches (culture as subjective beliefs and values or as context/public meaning). The symbolic power model has five virtues: an empirically observable object of study; the capacity to explain conflict and integration; the ability to explain stability and change; causal efficacy; and links between the micro-, meso-, and macrolevels of analysis. Though this paper focuses on organizational culture, the symbolic power model provides theoretical leverage for understanding many situated contexts.

Donabedian, B. 2003. "The Natural Realm of Social Law." Sociological Theory. 21:2 175-190. Link
This paper proposes criteria for distinguishing those types of social forms that are susceptible to lawlike explanation from those that are susceptible to interpretive accounts. The main criterion concerns the rankability of choice alternatives. The choice process is modeled as having two subprocesses. The first subprocess is a rational one in which unacceptable decision alternatives are eliminated, reducing the universe of alternatives to the set of interchangeably acceptable options, termed the admissible set. In the second subprocess, an arbitrary choice is made from the admissible set. In rational-choice settings, the admissible set consists of just one element, the optimum. However, this is clearly not the only possibility, as the example of language, with its plurality of interchangeable phonemic options, bears witness. The fundamental concept: At one extreme-the extreme of language-the admissible set is large and the arbitrary-choice subprocess dominates the rational-choice subprocess. At the other extreme-the extreme of rational-choice theory-the admissible set consists of a single element and the rational-choice subprocess dominates the arbitrary-choice subprocess. Social law has its proper home in those territories of human activity where the admissible set. is small; social interpretation has its proper home in those regions where the admissible set is large.

Platt, GM & RH Williams. 2002. "Ideological Language and Social Movement Mobilization: a Sociolinguistic Analysis of Segregationists' Ideologies." Sociological Theory. 20:3 328-359. Link
The current ``cultural turn `` in the study of social movements has produced a number of concepts formulating the cultural-symbolic dimension of collective actions. This proliferation, however, has resulted in some confusion about which cultural-symbolic concept is best applied to understanding cultural processes involved in social movements. We articulate a new definition of ideology that makes it an empirically useful concept to the study of social-movement mobilization. It is also formulated as autonomous of concepts such as culture and hegemony and of other cultural-symbolic concepts presently used in the movement literature to explain participant mobilization. We demonstrate the usefulness of our ideology concept by analyzing letters written to Martin Luther King, Jr. from segregationists opposed to the integration of American society. The analysis indicates that the letter writers particularized segregationist culture, creating ideologies that fit their structural, cultural, and immediate circumstances, and that the ideologies they constructed thereby acted to mobilize their countermovement participation. The particularizing resulted in four differentiated ideological versions of segregationist culture. The empirically acquired variety of ideological versions is inconsistent with the role attributed to cultural-symbolic concepts in the social-movement literature and requires theoretical clarification. We conclude with a discussion of the theoretical implications,for social-movement theory of the variety of segregationist ideologies.

Demerath, L. 2002. "Epistemological Culture Theory: a Micro Theory of the Origin and Maintenance of Culture." Sociological Theory. 20:2 208-226. Link
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.

Black, D. 2000. "Dreams of Pure Sociology." Sociological Theory. 18:3 343-367. Link
Unlike older sciences such as physics and biology, sociology has never had a revolution. Modern sociology is still classical-largely psychological, teleological, and individualistic-and evert less scientific than classical sociology. But pure sociology is different: It predicts and explains the behavior of social life with its location and direction in social space-its geometry. Here I illustrate pure sociology with formulations about the behavior of ideas, ideas, including a theory of scienticity that predicts and explains the degree to which an idea is likely to be scientific (testable, general, simple, valid, and original). For example: Scienticity is a curvilinear function of social distance from the subject. This formulation explains numerous facts about the history and practice of science, such as why some sciences evolved earlier and faster than others and why so much sociology is so unscientific. Because scientific theory is the most scientific science, the theory of scienticity also implies a theory of theory and a methodology far the development of theory.

Breslau, D. 2000. "Sociology After Humanism: a Lesson From Contemporary Science Studies." Sociological Theory. 18:2 289-307. Link
The field of science studies is the site of an explicit reflection on the ontological premises of sociology, with rival approaches defined by distinctive ways of specifying the basic constituents of reality. This article takes advantage of this debate to compare three types of ontological schemes in terms of their internal coherence and their consequences for sociology. Sociological in terms of their internal coherence and their consequences for sociology. Sociological humanism-represented by proponents of the sociology of scientific knowledge (SSK)-distinguishes between an immanent domain of social relations, a transcendent and meaningless material reality, and an intermediate, socially constructed level of knowledge, meaning and culture. Symmetrical humanism-as found in the recent writings of Andrew Pickering-insists that society too should be placed among the constructions, thereby disqualifying it as a source of explanations of human agency and leaving a detached and self-moving human agent. The relational ontology-exemplified by the ``actor-network'' approach of Bruno Latour adn others-make no a priori distinctions between humans and others, or between trandscendent reality and construction, treating these properties as outcomes. The two humanist approaches are found to be incoherent as ontological schemes and also, contrary to the antisociological stance of the actor-network approach, it is found that the relational ontology provides a consistent basis for sociological explanations of human practices.

Burawoy, M. 1998. "The Extended Case Method." Sociological Theory. 16:1 4-33. Link
In this article I elaborate and codify the extended case method. which deploys participant observation to locate everyday life in its extralocal and historical context. The extended case method emulates a reflexive model of science that takes as its premise the intersubjectivity of scientist and subject of study: Reflexive science valorizes intervention, process, structuration, and theory reconstruction. It is the Siamese twin of positive science that proscribes reactivity but upholds reliability replicability, and representativeness. Positive science, exemplified by survey research, works on the principle of the separation between scientists and the subjects they examine. Positive science is limited by ``context effects'' (interview: respondent, field, and situational effects) while reflex ive science is limited by ``power effects'' (domination, silencing, objectification, and normalization). The article concludes by considering the implications of having two models of science rather than one, both of which are necessarily flawed. Throughout I use a study of postcolonialism to illustrate both the virtues and the shortcomings of the extended case method. Methodology can only bring us reflective understanding of the means which have demonstrated their value in practice by raising them to the level of explicit consciousness; it is no more the precondition of fruitful intellectual work than the knowledge of anatomy is the precondition of ``correct'' walking.

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. Link
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.

Janssen, J & T Verheggen. 1997. "The Double Center of Gravity in Durkheim's Symbol Theory: Bringing the Symbolism of the Body Back in." Sociological Theory. 15:3 294-306. Link
By studying Durkheim through a Schopenhauerian lens, the one-sidedly cognitivist and functionalist reception of his social theory can be balanced. Durkheim explicitly rejected such monistic interpretations. His dialectical approach was always aimed at an essentially dualistic perception of man and society, wherein the lower pole, the individual, is central. In Durkheim's symbol theory, this position lends to two kinds of symbols: those that are bound to the human body, here called ``this and that'' symbols, and those people call choose freely here called ``this for that'' symbols. This twofold symbol theory can already be found in medieval philosophy (e.g. Dante Alighieri) as well as in the work of Paul Ricoeur. For Durkheim the human person is the symbol par excellence. By implication the rituals in which the person is (ra)constructed that is the rites of passage, should be central. The interpretation hera opens up new perspectives for a more psychological interpretation of Durkheim's sociology.

Whitmeyer, JM. 1997. "Endogamy as a Basis for Ethnic Behavior." Sociological Theory. 15:2 162-178. Link
In this article I argue for endogamy as a fundamental cause of human behavior that is often classified as ethnic. Specifically, I show that it would make evolutionary sense for people to help possible co-progenitors of their descendants. This suggests that in many situations people will help preferentially the minimal endogamous set of people to which they belong. Such help mostly will be restricted to providing benefits that are nearly ``non-rival''-benefits that group members can ``consume'' without making others consume less. This (partial) explanation of pro-ethny behavior reconciles key points from various approaches to ethnicity and agrees with many empirical observations, such as the link between endogamy and ethnicity and the variability of criteria for ethnicity. This explanation yields predictions and explanations in a number of problematic areas; for example, it suggests that expansion of the marriage pool, often occurring as a result of urbanization, is a crucial factor in the transformation of local identities into nationalism.

Roth, AL. 1995. "`'men Wearing Masks'': Issues of Description in the Analysis of Ritual." Sociological Theory. 13:3 301-327. Link
Since Durkheim ([1912] 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 ([1908] 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.

SOMERS, MR. 1995. "Whats Political or Cultural About Political-culture and the Public Sphere - Toward an Historical Sociology of Concept-formation." Sociological Theory. 13:2 113-144. Link
The English translation of Habermas's The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere converges with a recent trend toward the revival of the `'political culture concept'' in the social sciences. Surprisingly, Habermas's account of the Western bourgeois public sphere has much in common with the original political culture concept associated with Parsonian modernization theory in the 1950s and 1960s. In both cases, the concept of political culture is used in a way that is neither political nor cultural. Explaining this peculiarity is the central problem addressed in this article and one to follow I hypothesize that this is the case because the concept itself is embedded in an historically constituted political culture (here called a conceptual network)-a structured web of conceptual relationships that combine into Anglo-American citizenship theory. The method of an historical sociology of concept formation is introduced to analyze historically and empirically the internal constraints and dynamics of this conceptual network. The method draws from new work in cultural history and sociology, social studies, and network, narrative, and institutional analysis. This research yields three empirical findings: this conceptual network has a narrative structure, here called the Anglo-American citizenship story; this narrative is grafted onto an epistemology of social naturalism; and these elements combine in a metanarrative that continues to constrain empirical research in political sociology.

BENAMOS, A & E BENARI. 1995. "Resonance and Reverberation - Ritual and Bureaucracy in the State Funerals of the French Third-republic." Theory and Society. 24:2 163-191. Link

ORLOVE, B & E SCHMIDT. 1995. "Swallowing Their Pride - Indigenous and Industrial Beer in Peru and Bolivia." Theory and Society. 24:2 271-298. Link

Burns, G. 1996. "Ideology, Culture, and Ambiguity: the Revolutionary Process in Iran." Theory and Society. 25:3 349-388. Link

Mohr, JW & V Duquenne. 1997. "The Duality of Culture and Practice: Poverty Relief in New York City, 1888-1917." Theory and Society. 26:2-3 305-356. Link

Zolberg, VL. 1998. "Contested Remembrance: the Hiroshima Exhibit Controversy." Theory and Society. 27:4 565-590. Link

Auyero, J. 2002. "The Judge, the Cop, and the Queen of Carnival: Ethnography, Storytelling, and the (contested) Meanings of Protest." Theory and Society. 31:2 151-187. Link

Reed, JP. 2004. "Emotions in Context: Revolutionary Accelerators, Hope, Moral Outrage, and Other Emotions in the Making of Nicaragua's Revolution." Theory and Society. 33:6 653-703. Link
Building on the social movement/revolutions and recent social movement emotions literature and using interviews and oral history from revolutionary Nicaragua, I make a case for recognizing the significance of emotions when studying revolutions. The essay aims for a contextual understanding of the role of emotions in the making of revolution during the insurrectionary period in Nicaragua. These are examined from the vantage point of ``revolutionary accelerators,'' the conflictual event-contexts from which revolutionary actors emerge. Through the historical analysis of testimonies associated with a number of politically significant events that changed the course of political dynamics in 1970s Nicaragua, the piece illustrates: ( 1) how events function as generators of revolutionary action and ( 2) how event-related emotions such as anger and fear, but primarily moral outrage and hope, contribute to a transformation in consciousness that leads potential participants to define their circumstances as needing their revolutionary involvement. It also attempts to demonstrate how the latter two emotions - moral outrage and hope - are dominant under different event-contexts. Lastly, the relationships between these emotions and how these are connected to revolutionary accelerators are similarly explored.

Gerteis, J & A Goolsby. 2005. "Nationalism in America: the Case of the Populist Movement." Theory and Society. 34:2 197-225. Link
As a marker of national identity, the term ``American'' is culturally meaningful but also difficult and contradictory. In the first part of this article, we develop the claim that analyzing nationalism as discourse provides a meaningful lens for the study of this boundary-making process. In particular, the distinctions between civic/ethnic and inclusive/exclusive forms of nationalism have proved nettlesome for a consideration of American nationalism. In the second half of the article, we use data from the Southern Populist movement of the late nineteenth century to provide both relational and cultural analyses of the use of the term ``American.'' Although its use was primarily ``civic,'' it had important but complex racial implications.

Vu, Tuong. 2006. "Contentious Mass Politics in Southeast Asia: Knowledge Accumulation and Cycles of Growth and Exhaustion." Theory and Society. 35:4 393-419. Link
The study of mass contentious politics in Southeast Asia has accumulated significant knowledge over the last 40 years. This politics is instructive because it presents distinctive problems for analysis whose solutions will be useful to future analysts there and elsewhere. Two areas of knowledge where this literature has made special contributions are peasant resistance and the politics of insurgency and counterinsurgency. In addition, the peculiarities of the scholarship on this topic offer an opportunity to engage two different debates. First, because of the diverse methods employed to tackle this topic, the literature is useful for evaluating claims often made by partisans to methodological debates that only one's own method can accumulate knowledge while others cannot. Second, given the high geopolitical stake Southeast Asia once held for the United States in its fight against world communism, the scholarship on contentious mass politics in this region provides an appropriate test case for the common argument that postwar American scholarship has been dominated by American ``imperial designs.'' This article examines the different genres of analysis in the literature and shows how these genres hold different normative and ontological assumptions, conceptualize problems differently, and accumulate knowledge in different modes. A key finding of the essay is that knowledge accumulation by different genres has experienced cycles of growth and exhaustion. The evolution of these genres indicates the often neglected fact that knowledge accumulation consumes exhaustible knowledge resources that need to be replenished. The changing fortunes of the genres with different normative orientations also suggest a loose link between scholarship on this topic and broad ideological shifts in the United States, although ``imperial interests'' did not always prevail as often claimed.

Leschziner, Vanina. 2006. "Epistemic Foundations of Cuisine: a Socio-cognitive Study of the Configuration of Cuisine in Historical Perspective." Theory and Society. 35:4 421-443. Link
This article is a study of the development of modern European cuisine through an examination of the socio-cognitive schemas which shape the way social actors think of and about food. While the historical phase that spans from the late middle ages to modernity has been widely studied (mainly by historians) I advance a new interpretation which focuses on the influence of cognitive patterns on the structure of cuisine - the ways of eating, cooking and serving food. I argue that the shift in the mode of classification helps explain the origin of the modern configuration of cuisine built on the polarity between the sweet and savory tastes. Using the case of cuisine, I propose to see the cultural schemas which define thinking in a socio-historical context as providing the conditions of possibility for transformations in a cultural sphere to occur. This article thus attempts to contribute to our understanding of the relation between cultural practices and cognitive schemas.

Scott, W.. 2008. "Approaching Adulthood: the Maturing of Institutional Theory." Theory and Society. 37:5 427-442. Link
I summarize seven general trends in the institutional analysis of organizations which I view as constructive and provide evidence of progress in the development of this perspective. I emphasize corrections in early theoretical limitations as well as improvements in the use of empirical indicators and an expansion of the types of organizations included and issues addressed by institutional theorists.

Pinch, Trevor. 2008. "Technology and Institutions: Living in a Material World." Theory and Society. 37:5 461-483. Link
This article addresses the relationship between technology and institutions and asks whether technology itself is an institution. The argument is that social theorists need to attend better to materiality: the world of things and objects of which technical things form an important class. It criticizes the new institutionalism in sociology for its failure to sufficiently open up the black box of technology. Recent work in science and technology studies (S\&TS) and in particular the sociology of technology is reviewed as another route into dealing with technology and materiality. The recent ideas in sociology of technology are exemplified with the author's study of the development of the electronic music synthesizer.

Ghaziani, Amin. 2009. "An ``amorphous Mist''? the Problem of Measurement in the Study of Culture." Theory and Society. 38:6 581-612. Link
Sociological studies of culture have made significant progress on conceptual clarification of the concept, while remaining comparatively quiescent on questions of measurement. This study empirically examines internal conflicts (or ``infighting''), a ubiquitous phenomenon in political organizing, to propose a ``resinous culture framework'' that holds promise for redirection. The data comprise 674 newspaper articles and more than 100 archival documents that compare internal dissent across two previously unstudied lesbian and gay Marches on Washington. Analyses reveal that activists use infighting as a vehicle to engage in otherwise abstract definitional debates that provide concrete answers to questions such as who are we and what do we want. The mechanism that enables infighting to concretize these cultural concerns is its coupling with fairly mundane and routine organizational tasks. This mechanism affords one way to release the culture concept, understood here as collective self-definitions, from being ``an amorphous, indescribable mist which swirls around society members,'' as it was once provocatively described.

Lizardo, Omar. 2010. "Beyond the Antinomies of Structure: Levi-strauss, Giddens, Bourdieu, and Sewell." Theory and Society. 39:6 651-688. Link
In this article, I attempt to address some enduring problems in formulation and practical use of the notion of structure in contemporary social science. I begin by revisiting the question of the fidelity of Anthony Giddens' appropriation of the idea of structure with respect to Levi-Strauss. This requires a reconsideration of Levi-Strauss' original conceptualization of ``social structure'' which I argue is a sort of ``methodological structuralism'' that stands sharply opposed to Giddens' ontological reconceptualization of the notion. I go on to show that Bourdieu's contemporaneous critique of Levi-Strauss is best understood as an attempt to recover rather than reject the central implication of Levi-Strauss' methodological structuralism, which puts Bourdieu and Giddens on clearly distinct camps in terms of their approach toward the idea of structure. To demonstrate the-insurmountable-conceptual difficulties inherent in the ontological approach, I proceed by critically examining what I consider to be the most influential attempt to resolve the ambiguities in Giddens structuration theory: Sewell's argument for the ``duality of structure.'' I show that by retaining Giddens' ontological focus, Sewell ends up with a notion of structure that is at its very core ``anti-structuralist'' or only structuralist in a weak sense. I close by considering the implications of the analysis for the possibility of developing the rather neglected ``methodological structuralist'' legacy in contemporary social analysis.

Reed, Isaac & Julia Adams. 2011. "Culture in the Transitions to Modernity: Seven Pillars of a New Research Agenda." Theory and Society. 40:3 247-272. Link
How did cultural dynamics help bring about the societies we now recognize as modern? This article constructs seven distinct models for how structures of signification and social meaning participated in the transitions to modernity in the West and, in some of the models, across the globe. Our models address: (1) the spread, via imitation, of modern institutions around the world (memetic replication); (2) the construal, by socio-cultural forces and by state organizations, of the modern citizen-subject (social subjectification); (3) the continual search for new meanings to replace traditional religious meaning-systems (compensatory reenchantment); (4) repeated attempts, in modern revolutions, to remake society completely, according to a utopian vision (ideological totalization); (5) the cultural origins and social consequences of scientific and humanistic worldviews (epistemic rift); (6) the gendered politics of state formation (patriarchal supercession); (7) the invention and production of race in the colonial encounter (racial recognition). We explicate the models in reverse chronological order, because in our synthesis, we argue that the original modern break results from a dynamic combination of racial recognition, patriarchal supercession, and epistemic rift; these changes set the stage for the four other processes we theorize. In addition to our synthesis, we also consider, from a more neutral perspective, the kinds of causal arguments upon which these models tend to rely, and thus explicate the analytical undergirding for the application of any of these models to empirical research on transitions to modernity. Throughout the article, we consider how these models might, and might not, mesh with other families of explanation, such as the politico-economic.