Culture in Mind: Toward a Sociology of Culture and Cognition

By Karen A. Cerulo | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 15

Why Cognitive (and Cultural) Sociology Needs Cognitive Psychology

Paul DiMaggio

Cognitive sociology is a growing field. Growth leads to differentiation, and cognitive sociology is no exception. Within cognitive sociology, we can distinguish two dimensions. The first dimension (horizontal in Figure 15-1) counterposes work that focuses on how we think to work that focuses on the content of thought. Work on how we think includes much organization theory in the Carnegie School tradition, as well as much of Eviatar Zerubavel’s (1997) recent trail-blazing work and much other research on social classification and memory (e.g., Durkheim 1915). Work on what we think dominates most of the sociology of culture—for example, research on individualism, on how people make sense of love, on cross-national differences in trust, and so on (e.g., Fine, this volume; Gamson 1992; Mohr 1994; Schwartz 1991; this volume; Swidler 1986;2001). Clearly, both kinds of work are valuable.

The second dimension (vertical on Figure 15-1) has to do with the strategy one employs for the development of cognitive sociology: Whether we want it to be autochthonous—whether we as sociologists think we can go it alone—or whether we believe it is more productive to build on the work of cognitive and social psychologists (March and Simon 1958; Schuman 1986; White 2000). This dimension does not entail a forced choice any more than does the first. Zerubavel (1997) has demonstrated that a sociological approach can explain a great deal about the “social mindscape”: that is, about the ways in which social institutions organize cognitive processes at the “macro”

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