Workshop in Cultural Sociology, 2009 – 2010

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CCS Workshop Poster – 2009-2010

Workshop 9/4: Organizational Meeting

Welcome Back!

This week we will be focused on updates and planning. We hope you can all make it to this important meeting.

We are very happy to announce that our workshop will now be held in the “new” CCS at 8 Prospect Place, room 119. (See announcement on CCS homepage)

Please come prepared to say a few words about your summer and the progress you have made in your work. This would include things like writing thesis chapters, sending papers off for publication, being published, presenting at the ASA, collecting data or making field trips, going to Konstanz. Please also share your recreational adventures as well.

This year we welcome 2 incoming students: Shai Dromi and Yasushi Tanaka. We also welcome Vered Vinitzky-Seroussi, and Bing Xu, Visiting Fellows here for the academic year, and Andreas Hess, Visiting Fellow here for the Fall semester. Also back with us are Post-doctoral Fellows Jonathan Roberge for the academic year and Esteve Ollé Sanz, here until February 2010. We are pleased to report that Andrea Cossu, Kirsten Kraus, Sonja van Wichelen and Marc de Leeuw will join us at the workshops and other events when possible as they are all still here in New Haven, or nearby. Jenn Bryan, an applicant for a Post-doctoral appointment at the CCS, will join our workshop group this fall. We are so very pleased to have such a diverse and interesting group of visitors to work with this year.

Lunch will be served during this meeting.

Workshop 9/11: Esteve Ollé Sanz

Towards an “Open” Machine? Internet Culture and Bureaucracy

Workshop 9/18: Dominik Bartmanski

Reclaiming Iconosphere of the ‘Recent Past’ – Two Cases of Postcommunist Nostalgia

Workshop 9/25: Giuseppe Sciortino

After the Storm: Normative and Analytic Perspectives on Multiculturalism

Workshop 10/2: Andreas Hess

Sociology Of Knowledge, Intellectual History, Conceptual History: A Discussion

This paper takes a critical look at the argumentation and claims of the sociology of knowledge from Mannheim to Bourdieu and how it relates (or better doesn’t relate) to competing strong programs such as Cambridge-style intellectual history and (mainly) German-based conceptual history (Begriffsgeschichte). I contend that while sociologists can learn about and benefit from the thoroughness and some of the seriousness that intellectual and conceptual history stands for, in return intellectual and conceptual history can learn about how to be more ‘liberal’ and maybe less dogmatic when it comes to studying intellectuals and their ideas

Required Reading

Workshop 10/9: Rui Gao

Revolutionary Trauma and Representation of the War: the Case of China in Mao’s Era

For millions of Chinese who had the misfortune to live during the span of the War of Resistance Against Japan (1937-1945), their personal experience must have been unbearably traumatic and painful. During the 8 years of the war, China lost three million lives in combat, and the civilian casualties is estimated to be about twenty million1. And the heinous nature of the war atrocity committed by the invading army must have left indelible marks on memories and consciousness of millions of war victims, of which the Nanking Massacre and the crimes of No. 731 Special Forces are but two particularly atrocious cases. Such massively shared suffering and injustice, however, as vivid as it must have been in each war victims’ minds, remained ultimately private and individual: for many years after the building of the new state, it seldom if ever, found its way into the public sphere of expression.

Why is this the case? One of the goals of this chapter is to delve into this curious phenomenon and to seek explanations from a cultural sociological point of view. As scholars of cultural trauma powerfully demonstrated, even widely shared suffering and injustice of enormous scale are not collectively traumatic in themselves, I argue that the horrendous misery and mass destruction brought by the war was never able to be translated into a cultural trauma for the collectivity; not only has there not been a successful trauma process occurring, the significance of the war was largely diminished by the triumph of other cultural traumas that had been powerfully constructed.

Required Reading

Workshop 10/16: Vered Vinitzky-Seroussi

Round Up the Unusual Suspects: Some Thoughts About Future Directions of Collective Memory Studies

Dear CCS fellow travelers,

I’m attaching recent samples of my work that will be published soon. One is a piece about silence (to be published in Social Forces) and the other one is the introduction to my new book Yitzhak Rabin’s Assassination and the Dilemmas of Commemoration (State University of New York Press). The good news for this week’s session is that you don’t have to read either of these (although feedbacks and comments are always welcome). As far as this seminar is concerned, I would like to use this precious time that I have been given in order to discuss some of my recent thoughts about the field of collective memory and commemoration, and its potential future directions (both theoretically and empirically). What I really would like to do is to hear your input and feedback. From my experience with this group in the last month, I am confident that both you and I can gain much from the discussion that I hope will evolve.

Since none of these potential directions/ideas is ready in a reading format [even at a level of a draft], I’m not attaching anything to read specifically for this meeting. I will talk about these future directions [what I call “the unusual suspects”] for about 15-20 minutes. Then, the floor will be open for ideas, directions, comments, warnings, references, criticism, etc. So this week you are more than welcome to take a break from reading but not from thinking…

Thank you for your time, patience and ideas,

Suggested Readings:

Workshop 10/23: Bing Xu

The Hermeneutical Approach in the ‘Subjective Critique’

This paper is the first of a series of three papers I wrote advocating the hermeneutical approach. The other two are titled “The hermeneutical dialogue and the empiricist and (post-) structualist notions of objectivity” and “The linguistic base, some concrete theoretical images, and the special value for Chinese self-conscious social sciences of the hermeneutical approach.” I originally planned to translate the first paper from Chinese into English, but have felt exhausted in translating just a half of it. The presentation here is the first two sections of the paper. Thank you so much for your patience to read and comment on such a rough translation of an incomplete and immature paper.

Required Reading:

Workshop 10/30: David Inglis

The Cultural Organisation of the Undead:
Haitian Voodoo, Life-Death Liminality and the Social Uses of the Zombie

Most representations of zombies occur in the realm of popular fictions. But what happens when the undead escape from the confines of popular culture and enter into realms where their presence is regarded as unwanted intrusion and uncanny intervention? What transgressions occur when the zombie leaves the world of horror films and dime-novels, and starts to stalk the halls of academia?

This paper depicts and analyses just such a situation, depicting some of the fraught relations that can pertain between academia on the one hand and zombies on the other (Olsen, 1986).

Required Reading:

David Inglis is Professor of Sociology at the University of Aberdeen, UK. He is a graduate of the Universities of Cambridge and York. He is an Academician of the UK Academy of the Social Sciences. He has written in the areas of the history of social thought, the sociologies of culture, art and aesthetics, and the cultural sociology of globalization. His books include The Globalization of Food (Berg, 2009), Art and Aesthetics: Critical Concepts in the Social Sciences (Routledge, 2009), Food and Society: Critical Concepts in the Social Sciences, (Routledge, 2007), The Sociology of Art: Ways of Seeing (Palgrave, 2005), Nature: Critical Concepts in the Social Sciences (Routledge, 2005), Culture and Everyday Life (Routledge. 2005) and Confronting Culture: Sociological Vistas (Polity, 2003). He has been on the editorial and advisory boards of a range of journals, most recently European Journal of Social Theory and the Journal of Sociology. He is founding editor of the journal Cultural Sociology, published by Sage.

Workshop 11/6: Anthony King

The Armed Forces in Transformation: Organisation and Culture

Anthony King has been studying the armed forces since 2003. The two papers – one on commemoration and one on the organisational transformation of Europe’s headquarters – grow out of this work. The papers examine two very different but potentially interrelated changes in military operations. In the last decade, Europe’s armed forces have been ever more active nominally under NATO and, as a result, NATO itself has undergone a series of significant reformations in term of its command structure. In fact, NATO reform has been for the most part empty. The NATO designated headquarters have been ineffective. Rather, NATO has facilitated the appearance of condensation of military expertise and resourcing in national operational headquarters. The emergence of these headquarters has produced a new military geography in Europe. A new transnational military network has appeared consisting of nodes of military power interconnected ever more closely with equivalent nodes in other nations. Campaigns especially in Afghanistan have been prosecuted by these nodes of national power. As the armed forces have engaged in high intensity operations in Afghanistan, they have taken significant casualties in stark contrast to the Cold War. The act of commemoration has been a necessary and important social ritual again. Significantly, paralleling the organisational transformation of the armed forces, the act of commemoration has changed – indicating a profound transformation in the relationship between the armed forces and civil society and the public conception of the soldier. The paper on commoration explores this changes in the status of the military and its relationship to civil society. The point is that today’s professional soldier, working in condensed nodes of military expertise, is understood to be and indeed soldiers define themselves differently to their twentieth century predecessors.

Required Reading:

Supplemental Reading:

Workshop 11/13: Christine Slaughter

Gendering Political Legitimacy: The Case of Nancy Pelosi

Required Reading:

Workshop 11/20: Christopher Bail

Making Terrorists Racists: The Culture of Secrecy in Britain’s Domestic Counter-Terrorism Policy, 2001-2008
The relationship between the cognitive schemas policy elites use to interpret social problems and the “frames” they articulate to communicate policy solutions to the public remains poorly understood. Because much of the policy process is hidden behind closed doors, I argue that a theory of secrecy is needed to explain how frames evolve. Secrecy allows elites to avoid public scrutiny, but also enables them to exert influence over each other through “leaks” or disclosure. The theoretical framework is used to explain the evolution of frames about “homegrown” terrorism deployed by British policy elites between 2001 and 2008. Archival analysis is used to identify shifts in the public framing strategies of the Labour administration, which initially avoided targeting Muslims but eventually announced a “battle of ideas” about Islam in which terrorists were labeled “racists” conducting “anti-Islamic activity.” Declassified memoranda, in-depth interviews, and ethnographic observation are used to study secret debates between elites about the root causes of home-grown terrorism. The results indicate leaks force elites to articulate frames that resolve contradictions between public and private discourse. In so doing, elites produce frames that are publicly coherent, but privately understood as haphazard compromises. This process increases the need for secrecy and constrains discursive opportunity over time.

Required Reading:

Supplemental Reading:

Workshop 12/4: Matthew Norton

“Piratically, and feloniously”: Piracy in the Semiotic Structure of the English State, 1680-1700

Required Reading:

Supplemental Reading:

Workshop 1/15: Adrienne Wallace

Otherhood and Redistribution: How the State’s approach to women’s difference impacts women’s lives.

This paper examines key acts of legislation and judicial decisions that impact health care and employment policy with the goal of understanding how their implementation succeeds or fails to redistribute to women. The policy analysis is supplemented by focus-group data conducted in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas (LRGV). The LRGV is an under resourced region of the nation and research conducted there promises to produce results that will make interesting and widely applicable policy recommendations.

Required Reading:

Workshop 1/22: Sorcha Brophy-Warren

The Virtue of Normal: A Case Study of Subcultural Identity

Evangelicalism has long been considered a religious subculture. Studies of the tradition emphasize ways that adherents separate themselves from mainstream culture, paying particular attention to alternative Christian media and to attempts by conservative evangelicals to mobilize political movements around explicitly religious goals. To the extent that evangelical communities exhibit cultural continuity with “mainstream” society, this sameness is often posited as antithetical to evangelical theological commitments; as a result, this continuity has been attributed to religious accommodation and processes of secularization. In this paper, I use mapping of Christian and secular social identities in Christian teen periodicals and online communities to identify underlying normative claims about normalcy, and to suggest implications for subcultural identity theory.

Required Reading:

Workshop 1/29: Ron Eyerman

Assassination at City Hall

In this article I apply the theories of social drama and cultural trauma to the 1978 murder of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and city supervisor Harvey Milk. These theories help us understand and explain how and why these murders became a significant event. I will also discuss why and how Harvey Milk achieved international notoriety and why it is primarily he of those involved that has achieved this status.

Required Reading:

Workshop 2/5: Tim Malacarne

Cultural Reasons for Inequality:  Testing the explanatory narratives of the upper class

This paper is is the first draft of what should become my second year paper. It is also the first part of what I hope becomes a bigger project looking at culture reasons behind inequality, focusing on beneficial cultural traits of the upper classes. It is both exploratory and a defense of the necessity of cultural analysis to a field that is often uninterested in it. I’m interested in both quantitative and qualitative methodologies, and this is my first attempt at mixing the former with cultural sociology.

Required Reading:

Workshop 2/12: Alison Gerber

I’m working: agency and the meaning of work

Required Reading:

Workshop 2/19: Art Frank

Storytelling as an Enactment of Culture

This paper is written to complement my lecture in the departmental colloquium, February 18, but to be readable independent of that. I begin with a brief statement of the research problems I’m working on with respect to culture and stories. The paper’s discussion of what I call narrative habitus is taken from chapter 2 of my forthcoming book, Letting Stories Breathe: A Socio-Narratology (University of Chicago Press, forthcoming Fall 2010).

Required Reading:

Workshop 2/26: Mark Haugaard

The creation of power and the performance of social life

The focus of this paper is upon the creation of ‘power to’ and ‘power over’ through the constitution of subject positions. It is argued that social power, as distinct from coercive power, entails performative acts that meet with felicitous responses from others. Within this perspective, structural constraint and freedom are interpreted relative to the conditions of possibility for felicitous and infelicitous response from others. Subject positions of empowerment and disempowerment are surrounded by local cultural frameworks that make certain acts and responses appear reasonable or unreasonable. What emerges is a perception of social life in which concepts like power, structure, agency, freedom and constraint are continually negotiated by social actors.

Required Reading:

Workshop 3/5: Werner Binder

Abu Ghraib as Public Scandal and Civil Discourse:
America’s Image Problem in the War on Terror

The sociological analysis of public scandals provides unique insights into the moral and cultural foundations of modern societies and into the problem of social change. The broadcasting of photographs documenting the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers in Saddam Hussein’s former Abu Ghraib prison caused a worldwide scandal in 2004. This study offers an explanation of the development and the long-term effects of the Abu Ghraib scandal. It is based on a discourse analysis of The New York Times and the USA Today between 2004 and 2009, supplemented by other media sources. The empirical findings suggest that the scandal could only emerge when the abuse images were framed as a threat to the collective identity of the United States. The study shows further, how President Bush was able to win the upcoming elections, being able to redress the crisis early and profiting from a polarized political environment. However, the time after the election shows that the scandal was simply not going away. The civil power of the scandal influenced the Supreme Court and political decisions on detainee policies, the debate on torture, American popular culture and the upcoming presidential elections. All in all, the scandal has to be regarded as a turning point in the American post-9/11 civil discourse.

Required Reading:

Workshop 3/26: Bernhard Giesen

Inbetweenness and ambivalence

Social action presupposes a cultural order that— in a structuralist tradition—is generated by applying distinctions and classifications. Both sides of a distinction refer to contrasting or oppostional meanings that, by this oppostion, constitute each other: thus inside hints at outside, past at future, equality at inequality, salvation at condemnation, rationality at irrationality, justice at injustice, parents at children, masters at servants etc. We do not know the meaning of a concept unless we can conceive of its opposite.

Required Reading:

Workshop 4/2: Gary Alan Fine

The Sociology Of The Local: Action And Its Publics

Sociology requires a robust theory of how local circumstances create social order. When we analyze social structures not recognizing that they depend on groups with shared pasts and futures, that are spatially situated, and that depend on personal relations, we avoid a core sociological dimension: the importance of local context in constituting social worlds. Too often this has been the sociological stance, both in microsociological studies that examine interaction as untethered from traditions and in domains that treat culture as an autonomous regime separate from action and choice. In contrast, building on theories of action, group dynamics, and micro-cultures, I argue that a sociology of the local solves critical theoretical problems of how identity and action provide a basis in which networked groups contribute to the organization of society. The local is a stage on which social order gets produced and is a lens for understanding how particular forms of action are selected. Relying on ethnographic studies and treating them as readings of ongoing cultures, I examine how the continuing and referential features of group life (spatial arenas, relations, shared pasts) generate action and also argue that local practices provide the basis for cultural extension, influencing societal expectations through the linkages among groups.

Required Reading:

Workshop 4/9: Tom Crosbie

Knowing Abu Ghraib: The Moral and Strategic Dimensions of a Visual Scandal

Required Reading:

Workshop 4/16: Anna Lund

The Civil Sphere in our Bodies: Ethnographic Observations of the Meaningfulness of Social Change

This article addresses possible mechanisms of social change from a sociological perspective with an emphasis on gender and culture. Out of a system of higher education where heterosexuality and inequality were common practices, institutions have emerged where social criticism and identification with and respect for others are more or less standard. Civil repair has been achieved. In this text I analyze how and why a system of gender-sensitive education has been developed in institutions of higher education that train the next generation of Swedish actors. I find that social criticism concerning the limits and possibilities of gendered scripts was actively connected to the ideals of the civil sphere, a sphere understood by Jeffrey C. Alexander as consisting of values creating horizontal solidarity and democratic integration (2006:4). I will describe this change with the help of ethnographic observations and by acknowledging the role of the performative body as a vessel of meaning.

Required Reading:

Workshop 4/23: Dimtry Kurakin

Senior research fellow at the Centre for Fundamental Sociology (CFS), State University – Higher School of Economics (Moscow, Russia), and head of the Cultural Sociology Research Group (at the CFS)

Metaphors and Uncertainty: The Advantages of the Theory of the Sacred for Cultural Sociology

The power of metaphor, its particular influence exerted over the individuals, has been the focus of attention for philosophers, sociologists, anthropologists and psychologists. Spread beyond the limits of rhetoric and later on of linguistics and semiotics, set by the renowned Aristotle’s definition, metaphor became not merely a particular type of proposition but was considered to be a principle subject of another type. Neither semiotics, nor linguistics, nor rhetoric is capable of showing the emotional component of the metaphor’s influence on the individual. However, this is exactly the component which is the most significant when we consider the metaphor’s effects. This paper considers the possibility for the cultural sociological interpretation of the metaphor as a special symbolic mechanism to connect cultural symbols with aspects of the social interactions by means of emotions. Following Ricoeur’s model, revealing an uncertainty and its overcoming as a distinctive feature of metaphorical mechanism, we came to treat it sociologically, based on the Durkheimian theory of the sacred and symbolic models borrowed from works of Mary Douglas, Victor Turner and Rene Girard. This allows using metaphor as an efficient explanatory model for the analysis of particular cultural patterns of social life, its relations, and the ways it influences meaningful actions.

Required Reading: