Conference Agenda

RN07_10a: Sociology of Culture: Morality and struggle
Friday, 23/Aug/2019:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Simon Stewart, University of Portsmouth
Location: GM.334
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Geoffrey Manton, Third Floor 4 Rosamond Street West Off Oxford Road


Conceptualising Social Types and Figures: From Social Forms to Classificatory Struggles

Elias le Grand

Stockholm University, Sweden

The analysis of social types, such as the stranger, the marginal man and the folk devil, has a long, significant history in sociology and related fields. Although the social type concept currently enjoys a rather marginal status, in recent years the related concept of figure has been increasingly deployed in research. Extending research on figures and the sociology of moralisation as well as Bourdieu’s work on classification, this article draws on a case study of the hipster type to advocate a critical approach to the study of social types in which they are conceived as social identities tied to classificatory struggles over meaning, value, recognition and resources between differentially positioned social categories or groups. This argument is developed through a critical reading of studies on social types and figures, tracing the development of research from the classic work of Simmel, Benjamin and the Chicago School, via post World War studies by Schütz, Klapp and scholars in the moral panic tradition, to contemporary analyses of figures in cultural and feminist studies as well as in urban anthropology.

The Only True Philosophers: Performances and Boundary-Work of Unofficial Philosophers in Communist Czechoslovakia

Dominik Zelinsky

University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom

This paper focuses on the case of ‘unofficial philosophy seminars’ in communist Czechoslovakia. Unofficial seminars were clandestine enterprises in which intellectuals, marginalised from official academic life due to their unwillingness to accept the dominant Marxist agenda, secretly studied and taught philosophy, humanities, and social sciences. In 1979, they established a connection with philosophy staff at Oxford University, which began supporting the Czechoslovak dissidents, and organised trips of dozens of world-class academics to Prague, Brno, and Bratislava – among them Jurgen Habermas, Jacques Derrida, or Paul Ricoeur.

On the basis of interviews, research in the archives of the secret police, and textual analysis of samizdat publications, this paper uncovers the processes of performative boundary-work by which they assumed the particular epistemological and symbolic position of ‘true’ philosophy against polluted official production. Challenging the existing scholarship on Eastern European dissidents, I argue that the ‘truth’, based on perceived existential authenticity of its producers, was not inherent to the dissent but a constructed, historically conditioned epistemological position, which provided both a meaningful framework for the Prague philosophers, motivating their struggle, and effective symbolic for communication with supportive parties such as Oxford University.

Icons of Moral Disturbance

Lisa McCormick

University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom

In my previous research, I explained how international music competitions could become public forums where civil competence could be displayed, representations of civil relations could be broadcast, and an expansion of the public could be imagined. This potential, while important, is only rarely realised; competitions produce controversies with much more regularity. This paper seeks to understand the causes and consequences of chronic moral upset in the music world to produce general insights that will broaden and strengthen the cultural theory of scandal. My analytic framework features a typology accounting for scandals of varying magnitudes. I also consider their effects. By examining a case of an iconic music scandal, I reveal the potential hazards of re-enchantment and the fallout from symbolic condensation. The upshot of the analysis is a critical challenge to cultural sociology to attend to situations of moral ambiguity and the dark side of iconization, not just to enrich our inquiry, but because it is a matter of increasing urgency.

The Barriers Of Young People’s Moral Socialization

Tatiana Kirilina

State Educational Institution of Higher Education Moscow Region «University of Technology», Korolev, Russian Federation, Russian Federation

The collapse of universal morality, universal values and norms; chronic anomie, focus on new, often opposites to existing forms of knowledge, behaviour, aesthetic self-expression in the society are the distinctive features of modern society.

Moral socialization is a process of moral norms and principles adoption, moral categories and society values internalization by the individual. The study of moral socialization problems argues that the moral socialization realization involves overcoming certain obstacles to this process that we identified as barriers to moral socialization. They differ, however, in the level at which distributed in space: at the global, national or at the level of youth as a social group.

The modern state of culture is characterized by the collapse of the universal "moral arch", which values and norms are gradually losing imperative and validity, becoming the object of reflexive awareness and an individual choice.

New barriers to young people moral socialization at the state level create the following factors: refusal of the purposeful formation and maintenance of human values; the absence of universally accepted social and cultural, including moral, criteria, on the basis of which it would be possible to assess the completeness of the process of young people socialization.

Barriers of young people moral socialization at the level of social groups are: the transition, the propensity of young people to unnecessary risk; the infantilization of young people, undermining the ethics of responsibility.

Youth Moral socialization cannot be managed by itself, this process requires the active and purposeful activities of the various actors (family, school, University, media, etc.).