The Survival of a Counterculture: Ideological Work and Everyday Life among Rural Communards

The Survival of a Counterculture: Ideological Work and Everyday Life among Rural Communards

The Survival of a Counterculture: Ideological Work and Everyday Life among Rural Communards

The Survival of a Counterculture: Ideological Work and Everyday Life among Rural Communards

Excerpt

I have reached for two goals in this book that are not usually reached for simultaneously. First of all, I aim to do a partial ethnography of a commune--more specifically, a description of some of its beliefs and the practices that reveal them. Second, I aim to do a sociology of knowledge: I will not regard the meaning of the beliefs as self-evident. I will attempt to find that meaning in the relationships between the beliefs and the pressures exercised by the practical circumstances in which communards must live out their day- to-day existence.

Not only are these two aims seldom reached for simultaneously, but the audiences for each effort do not usually overlap much. Like historians, ethnographers usually look for detail, and ethnographies are likely to be praised to the extent that they are rich in directly observed empirical material, for example, descriptions of or quotations from the people who are studied that evoke the sense of their authentically lived lives. In the literature of the sociology of knowledge, one is lucky to find any live people at all. The data are frequently texts, and sociologists of knowledge usually look for logically rigorous relationships between abstract (usually highly abstract) categories devised from those texts and the social structures or existential conditions in which those texts appeared. Ethnographers are usually interested in accuracy, verisimilitude, and vivid detail; sociologists of knowledge are usually interested in historical sweep, analytic depth, and the relevances of ideology and epistemology to stratified political . . .

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