The Meaning of Culture: Moving the Postmodern Critique Forward

By Kenneth Allan | Go to book overview

incremental phases rather than through a revolution (see , weder 1968). High levels of bureaucratization and institutional complexity tend to be able to co-opt most social movements before they reach the stage of revolution. In such cases, the place of culture in social struggle and change becomes paramount.


NOTES
1.
Because of its diversity, a complete rendering of the Centre's empirical work and theory falls outside the scope of this book. I focus on what appears to me to be the central orienting ideas for Cultural Studies. For a more complete overview of Cultural Studies, see Graeme Turner, British Cultural Studies; An Introduction ( Boston: Unwin Hyman, 1990); and Ben Aggar, Cultural Studies as Critical Theory ( London: Falmer, 1992).
2.
But Mahar, Harker, and Wilkes depict this categorization of Bourdieu's as simply "an attempt to situate himself within an arena known to his American audience" ( 1990, pp. 23-24n). They prefer to call Bourdieu's work "generative structuralism." One can only assume that their categorization is somehow excluded from the role of gate-keeping that they accuse all other labels of playing.
3.
From a functionalist's point of view, Parsons referred to this last stage of revolutionary social change as "institutionalization."
4.
This critique is not original with me, and it is shared by others (e.g., Richard Jenkins , Pierre Bourdieu, London: Routledge, 1992; Paul DiMaggio, "Review Essay: On Pierre Bourdieu," American Journal of Sociology, 1979, 84 [6]:1460-1474).
5.
The concept of selection pressures comes from Jonathan H. Turner ( 1995) recent work on macrodynamics. Turner attributes the concept to Spencer and argues that these pressures are dynamic in the sense that they "cause" things to happen. I use the term in a Durkheimian sense: in the presence of high levels of particularized culture, a collective will tend to seek out and create more generalized symbols to represent the group. But, as I have argued, these symbols do not have to be the object of continual or periodic intense interaction. They may be held in reserve as long as they do not become the subject of dispute. This conceptualization avoids the problems associated with consensus and high moral density.

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