The Meaning of Culture: Moving the Postmodern Critique Forward

By Kenneth Allan | Go to book overview

5
The Production of Meaning and Reality in Postmodernity

One might even make out a case that they spend more of their
daily hours in meaningful activities than their forebears did.
The reason is precisely the "commercialized" culture that now
exists. . . . What modern intellectuals usually fail to see is that
the technology of ritual-production has gotten much more decen-
tralized. People who carry around cassette recorders or radios
blaring out popular music are literally wrapping themselves in
a cocoon of self-chosen meaning almost every moment of the day.

-- Randall Collins ( 1986, p. 254)

The purpose of this book is twofold. First, the book presents a critique of the way in which culture is approached by most contemporary analyses, in particular, postmodernism. Many of the arguments presented in this book by the different perspectives are weakened by their overemphasis on the structural relations among elements in a culture system, their underconceptualization of how culture is created and reproduced at the micro-level, the ramifications of that process, and their neglect of affect-meaning. Perhaps this structuralist turn in the social sciences has been motivated by an attempt to grant culture an independent, theoretical effect on human behavior; alternatively, it may be due to the influence of postmodernism on the culture of cultural studies. Either way, there have been some positive results. I believe that establishing a separate analytical domain has resulted in a number of

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