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Session Overview
RN07_03: Sociology of Culture: Theory and concepts
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Joost Van Loon, Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt
Location: GM.335
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Geoffrey Manton, Third Floor 4 Rosamond Street West Off Oxford Road

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(Re)viewing Culture and Academic Anxieties

Simon Ridley

Université Paris Nanterre, France

This paper offers a critical examination of academic anxieties and proposes the definition of the concept of “(re)viewing culture”. Drawing on a post-Writing Culture perspective, I wish to further Marcus’ developments on multi-sited ethnography and go beyond the “three sets of methodological anxieties” that he identified. Indeed, I believe that academics are faced with different layers of anxieties in a context marked by the commodification of everyday life, digital capitalism, and new technologies of information and communication that deeply affect the way we conduct research and construct theory. These anxieties are particularly heightened for young scholars facing precarity and professional uncertainty.

The identity of academic disciplines is locked in a reoccurring crisis as the lack of unity makes it difficult for the humanities to fend off attacks from the outside as well as from the inside. This ongoing crisis leads me to review the “canon debates” and the “culture wars” of the 1990s in order to propose a renewed way of defining the humanities. If complex reviews were necessary for the construction of social science, and still are today, they are faced with the increasing challenge of simple viewing. With the rise of alternative media, facts, and realities, E-learning and iWars, we must recognize that we are faced with new forms of digital anxieties. I would like to further this discussion by questioning the effects of digital culture on academic life and even on our selves. Paying attention to the way new technologies affect the self means reviewing academic culture itself, and I argue that we need to allow for renewed “technocritical” perspectives of the classical humanist questions to resonate with contemporary marginal groups.

For a New Sociology of Literature: Befriending Sociology and Aesthetics

Jan Vana

Masaryk University, Czech Republic

When analyzing literary fiction, sociologists still tend to the well-accustomed boundaries between the literary and the sociological, thus leaving literature dissected and stripped of its aesthetic qualities. Instead, I focus on the process of meaning-making as it occurs within the interaction between the reader and the novel. In return, it allows me to capture those aspects of understanding of social experience that are usually ‘lost in translation’ between fictional and sociological genres. My major claims are that, first, when referring to social reality, both sociological and literary texts employ aesthetic function to mediate understanding for the reader. Second, within literary genre, the aesthetic function operates on a much larger scale, which makes the texts especially suitable to communicate the existential and emotional aspects of social reality. Third, to maximize the benefit from the sociological inquiry of literature, we must treat the aesthetic function with due care, that is, we must be particularly sensitive towards the subtlety and ambiguity of meaning mediated by the aesthetic function. The research model I propose for a ‘new sociology of literature’ adopts the concept of landscape of meaning developed by Isaac Reed in combination with aesthetic structuralism of Czech linguist Jan Mukařovský. This model will be demonstrated through an analysis of the Czech novel Sestra (published in English as City Sister Silver) by Jáchym Topol.

Сulture Оf Peace As a Theoretical And Practical Problem Of The Development Of Modern Society

Muslimat Gazieva Akhmedova

Finance University affiliated to the Government of the Russian Federation, Russian Federation

For thousands of years, human civilization has evolved on the basis of the culture of war. Modern civilization has embarked on the path of increasing, increasingly acute intraspecific struggle for existence. The development of the global market, which is a great hope in solving social and economic problems, expands the possibilities of arms proliferation, including nuclear. The situation is compounded by the fact that weapons are delivered to terrorist groups and organized criminal groups. It follows that the world community must decide on a strategy for the development of a culture of peace. The basic of the concept of a culture of peace should be at the present stage - the struggle for peaceful coexistence of States, against the subordination of some States to others, against the production and development of new types of weapons, for the reduction of weapons, since the manufacture, use, storage and destruction of weapons require the highest costs of energy and matter and are accompanied by the most powerful pollution and destruction of the potential of the environment.

On Clines and Classes, Contradiction and Coherence: reflections on the status of culture

G Bailey

Manchester Metropolitan University, United Kingdom

Just as genetic science fundamentally undermines the idea of ‘races’ as discrete bounded populations with shared DNA (while saying nothing about racism), so the study of culture undermines ideas of ‘ethnicities’, ‘communities’ or ‘peoples’ as discrete bounded populations with shared ‘cultures’. Following long-term research on ‘community cohesion’, migrant integration, extremism and counter-extremism, and thinking about extremist groups as subcultures (see also Pisoiu 2015), I identify a number of challenges which help us rethink how we describe and analyse human cultural difference.

Following Vaisey (2010) I do not argue for culture only as a seamless web, or instead as a cultural toolkit of components that can be put in any combination, but for both at the same time. First, I argue for the transfer of the concepts of clines from genetic science, such that the relationship between an individual and a cultural component is probabilistic, but with odds that change over time and space, forming patterning (see Caulkin 2001). These clines are potentially infinitely dimensional, as culture is only limited by our imagination. Second, I argue that, like genes, clinal components of culture are ‘expressed’ in relation to context, and may not express at all. In many circumstances, not only does the cultural component differ, but also the salience of the component. Third, for any individual, interaction, or group, cultural components are ‘inherited’ separately but interact collectively. It is here that coherence and contradiction appears, potentially creative and destructive, doing the work of creating new cultural forms (see Archer 1995).

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