Never Saw It Coming: Cultural Challenges to Envisioning the Worst

By Karen A. Cerulo | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THREE
Practicing Positive Asymmetry

In chapter 2, I documented the overwhelming presence of positive asymmetry in everyday life. I showed how this way of seeing dominates perceptions of quality in vast numbers of social and cultural contexts and at various levels of social interaction. Such a widespread sociocultural phenomenon does not arise spontaneously. Rather, it is the product of what social scientists refer to as cultural practices.

Cultural practices—the term is widely used in the literature. But sociologist Ann Swidler provides us with perhaps the most succinct definition of the concept. For Swidler, cultural practices are means by which individuals, groups, and communities “reproduce, resist, or change social structures and rules.” They do so not in a vigilant or fully cognizant way, but by invoking “unconscious, embodied, or habitual actions.” Thus, cultural practices are not openly articulated plans. Rather, they are “the routines of institutions and actors.”1

In elaborating on practices, Swidler raises two additional points that are especially relevant to my argument. First, while unconscious or habitual, cultural practices are nevertheless highly directed action. Thus, in the context of this study, one can say that the practices used to distance the worst from our perceptual portholes are not haphazard or accidental. Rather, they are strategic and oriented to practical outcomes—outcomes, I would argue, of shared relevance to the group or community in which they occur, outcomes often reflecting the core interests of that group or community. Second, practices involve both doing and thinking. While they are behaviors, they are behaviors that are systematically organized by the habitus, the internalized system of durable, transposable dispositions that arises from the patterns of action that structure social domains—a kind of master blueprint that outlines the ways things are or the way things work. It is critical to rec-

-72-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Never Saw It Coming: Cultural Challenges to Envisioning the Worst
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 334

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.