Workshop in Cultural Sociology, 2011 ~ 2012

Please note: Workshop readings are automatically available to current participants only and require authentication (username and password).

Off-campus CCS Fellows can contact the CCS Administrator to gain access as needed.

The CCS Workshop starts at 11:00 AM and ends at 1:00 PM, followed by lunch.

CCS Workshop Poster – 2011-2012

FALL 2011

Workshop 9/2:Organizational Meeting

This week we will be focused on updates and planning. We hope you can all make it to this important meeting. This week’s meeting will end at 1:00 and lunch will be served.

The workshop will be held this year at 210 Prospect Street, Room 203 from 11:30 to 1:30. Lunch will be served after the workshop each week at 1:30.

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 are happy to greet Isabel Jijon and Elisabeth Becker as a new students. We have three visiting graduate students here with us, Thomas Franssen from the University of Amsterdam, Erik Hannerz from Uppsala University and Annika Arnold from the University of Stuttgart.

We also welcome Magnus Ring from Lund University, Monica Brito Vieira and Felipe Carreira da Silva from the University of Lisbon as Visiting Fellows this Fall. Joining us as well at various times throughout the semester will be Martin Sauter from the Dublin City University and Faculty Fellow Mats Trondman from Linnaeus University. We are so very pleased to have such a diverse and interesting group of visitors to work with this year.

Workshop 9/9: Philip Smith
CCS Director, Yale University

An Instructive Failure? Climate Change Art
Dear CCS Community:

This reading is a chapter from my draft book entitled Communicating Climate Change. The central idea is to explore climate change as a ‘cultural system’. Special attention is given to the oft-noted problem of making people/the public sphere (a) pay attention and (b) see the issue as urgent. The feel of the book is somewhat ‘middle weight’. It is not a difficult read and it moves along briskly. However it does assume some cultural literacy and does engage with theory occasionally.

The chapters are:

(1) A theory chapter that deals with the other major theorists of risk. As you might expect none of them are sufficiently cultural.
(2) A brief narrative history of climate change and of its movement through various interpretative genres (the genre theory of risk assessment from Why War?). This chapter will appear in the Oxford Handbook of Cultural Sociology.
(3) A chapter on panics that did get taken seriously even though nothing much happened in the end Y2K, SARS, H1N1 etc. This sets up a sort of comparative cultural sociology of relative failure. Ie. If those duds could get their act together why can’t climate change?
(4) A chapter on Al Gore and his film. I decode the film’s grammar to show why it works in much the same way as my analysis of the Geertz Cockfight or Matt’s O’Reilly Factor papers.
(5) This chapter.
(6) A chapter on controversial climate change ad campaigns, scandals and also on the conferences as witnessed rituals. Basically the moments when climate change makes it into the public sphere but generally for the wrong reasons.
(7) A short final chapter that sort of pulls it together.

Thanks for reading. See you Friday.

Phil Smith

Required Reading

Workshop 9/16:Julia Rozanova
Yale University & The University of British Columbia

The Master of Disguise:
Hidden Faces of Ageism and Their Meanings in Cultural Sociology

Aging is ubiquitous: whether we like it or not, every one of us is growing older: as the line in the “Sunrise, sunset” Fiddler on the Roof song points out, “I don’t remember growing older. When did I, when?” As we go through the seasons of life from a young child, to a young man or woman, to an adult, and then gradually to an older person – and our life course transitions are marked by culturally constructed rituals and performances that constitute the milestones on the timeline of life (Bar Mitzvahs, weddings, retirement), we face questions: what do I matter and what do I mean to other people? What determines the hierarchy of importance that is ascribed to people and their issues – and how are people shifted to the bottom of the list of priorities? This paper attempts to develop a theoretical model of ageism as socially constructed multi-faceted and progressive invisibility of people as they are growing older in the context of cultural meaning-making that underlies social actions (such as, but not limited to, age discrimination, elder abuse, or elder neglect). In cultural sociology we often ask what something means – in this paper I am trying to shift the perspective and to ask both what older adults mean and how much they mean.

Required Reading

Workshop 9/23:Inge Schmidt
CCS Junior Fellow

Required Reading

Workshop 9/30: Geneviève Zubrzycki
University of Michigan

Beheading the Saint:
Aesthetic Revolt and the Remaking of National Identity in Quebec, 1960-69

Based on archival and ethnographic research, this article analyzes the iconic making, iconoclastic unmaking and iconographic remaking of national identifications. The window into these processes is the career of Saint John the Baptist, patron saint of the French Canadians and national icon from the mid-19th century until 1969, when his statue was beheaded by protesters during the annual parade in his honor in Montreal. Relying on literatures on nationalism, visuality and materiality, I analyze how the saint and his attending symbols were deployed in processions, parades and protests. From this analysis, I develop the sociological concept of aesthetic revolt, a process whereby social actors rework the symbols of the nation, redefining national identity in the process. The article offers a theoretical articulation and an empirical demonstration of how the context, content and the form of specific cultural objects and symbols—national icons—are intertwined in public performance to produce eventful change, and how both the internal material logic and the social life of these icons exert causal power in the articulation of new identities.

Required Reading

Workshop 10/7: Erik Hannerz
Uppsala University, Sweden. CCS Visiting Graduate Student

Authenticating Punk: The Subcultural Sacred and Profane

This paper deals with the relationship between the subcultural and the conceived mainstream, and how punks make use of this mainstream in order to validate their own as well as others’ behaviour as authentic. More so it focuses on how the meaning of the mainstream differs among participants and the consequences this have for how performances are staged and validated or refuted. Drawing from Durkheim’s division of the sacred and the profane, it is argued that the key to understanding the authentic and the inauthentic lies in outlining these classifications that can render objects either forbidden or sacred. Further, the author assert that the definitions of the authentic and inauthentic are plural and each definition works to distinguish the own subcultural adherence as authentic. The author stresses that in order to understand how meaning is constructed and how actions are made sense of we must approach the mainstream as existing within the articulation of the authentic, rendering some practices possible while excluding other. Based on this, two different framings of the authentic are outlined, referred to as a convex and a concave due to how they position the mainstream, as well as the consequences these differences have for subcultural performances.

Required Reading

Workshop 10/14: Mira Debs
CCS Junior Fellow

Rehabilitating a difficult memory?:
White Students Narrating the Integration of Central High School 1957-58

This paper adds to the sociology of difficult memory literature by demonstrating that commemorative processes change over time, and commemoration itself can result in “commemorative performances” by groups with counter-memories. I examine a memory project by white students who were at Little Rock Central High School during the desegregation crisis of 1957-1958 and subsequently published a book, in order to redefine their position as “heroic” bystanders through identifying themselves as victims, shifting blame and redefining what it meant to be heroic.

Required Reading

Workshop 10/21: James Jasper
Graduate Center, City University of New York

Are Emotions Part of Culture?

Culture has conquered the human sciences. From a few isolated voices in the middle of the twentieth century – like Suzanne Langer and Kenneth Burke – the idea that shared meanings matter has penetrated every discipline and research topic. The collective processes by which we make sense of the world – through schemas, narratives, frames, practices, identities, and so on – permeate and define action as well as the structures that actions reproduce or change them. Once the specialty of anthropologists and psychoanalysts, then both embraced and stifled by the cognitive revolution, culture (both shared meanings and their physical embodiments) has become the dominant paradigm in most social sciences and humanities. Only a few pockets – which claim to explain human life on the basis of genes or structures – resist.

Required Reading

Workshop 10/28: Elisabeth Breese
CCS Junior Fellow

The Revolution Metaphor in American Journalistic Discourses
Chapter 4 – Draft
Dissertation Title: Interpreting the News: A Cultural Sociology of Journalistic Discourses in the United States

Over the past several decades, the cable revolution and the information revolution have been dominant concepts in commentary and debates on journalism in the United States. While the causes and consequences of the news revolutions are of interest and concern, their existence is not under consideration in journalistic discourses. Yet, the cable revolution and the information revolution are not real. Rather, the only reality they can be said to have is as a discursive formation. They are metaphoric tropes, and, I propose, they are textual-linguistic symbols, which are organized by a set of binary oppositions, including traditional standards/ new standards, serious/ entertainment, and depth/ surface. It is clear that news revolutions organize tensions between supposed improvements in the news and sacrifices to “traditional standards” ushered in by new technologies and news communications media, such as the television and the Internet. A semiotic examination of the news revolution trope illustrates the ways in which abiding cultural codes structure these discourses over the course of several decades. Speakers employ signifiers such as “serious” and “tabloid” as objective statements of reality, but I propose that we must understand discourses of the “crisis” in American journalism by recognizing their symbolic organization.

Required Reading

Workshop 11/4: Jeffrey Olick
University of Virginia

Predecessor Selection: Insights from and for Memory Studies

While this workshop piece covers a broad range of issues relating to memory studies (and covers some issues we discussed on my last visit), I am sending it because it provides the background from which two new (for me) interests have emerged. The first of these is a question for the sociology of knowledge, namely how, when, and why a new field emerges and consolidates, and what these processes entail (though there is also room for discussion as to whether “field” is the appropriate term, either in general or in the specific case of memory studies). The second question involves applying a framework from within memory studies to memory studies itself, namely the sociology of reputation and matters of predecessor selection. First, in what ways are predecessor selection processes similar and in what ways do they differ across different fields (again, all due caveats about this term), namely in interdisciplinary areas like memory studies, in disciplines, in social sciences versus humanities and natural sciences, and in other areas like the arts and politics? And second, in what ways is the case of Halbwachs a good model for understanding such processes generally, and in what ways is his an unusual case, raising challenges for established understandings of reputational processes. In my introductory remarks, I will try to frame the relevant theoretical resources and debates for such inquiries. But I welcome whatever direction the workshop might take and am happy to talk about the future of memory studies more broadly. I am looking forward to talking with you!

Required Reading

Workshop 11/11:Christine Slaughter
CCS Junior Fellow

Required Reading

Workshop 11/18: Magnus Ring
Lund University, CCS Visiting Fellow, Fall 2011

Societal Violence in Cultural Terms

This paper formulates a plausible explanation to why a seemingly average young man in Norway acted out the killing of 77 people in two acts of violence on the 22nd of June 2011. The bombing against the governmental buildings and the mass murder of Norwegian children and youth in Oslo and at Utoeya on the 22nd of June 2011 are by some considered to be acts by a “lone wolf” or “mad man” and by some the act of a terrorist. This paper is a first step towards an analysis of the events in Norway in which the second step will be the aftermath in terms of how Norwegian society more broadly reacted on these potential traumatic events.

Required Reading

Workshop 12/2:Timothy Malacarne
CCS Junior Fellow

Required Reading

Workshop 1/13:Jin Su Joo
CCS Junior Fellow

Required Reading

Workshop 1/20: Wendy Espeland
Northwestern University

The History of 10%: Measurement and the Politics of Gay Identity

Required Reading

Workshop 1/27: Jonathan Wyrtzen
Yale University

“Ya Latif…Do Not Separate Us from Our Brothers, the Berbers:”
Staging Arabo-Islamic National Identity in Interwar Morocco

This article employs a process approach to the study of nationalism, analyzing anti-colonial protest in interwar Morocco to answer the elusive question of why elite-constructed national identity resonates for larger audiences. Drawing on cultural sociological tools developed to analyze social performances, it examines how a Muslim prayer ritual was repurposed by Moroccan nationalists to galvanize mass protest against a French divide-and-rule colonial policy they believed threatened Morocco’s ethno-religious national unity. By looking at how national identity was forged in the context of contentious performances and why certain religious (Islam) and ethnic (Arab) components were drawn on to define the Moroccan nation, this study offers a model for answering how the nation actually functions as a category of identity and why it gets defined in specific ways.

Required Reading

Workshop 2/3: Carolyn Ly
CCS Junior Fellow

Required Reading

Workshop 2/10: David Grazian
University of Pennsylvania

Where the Wild Things Aren’t: Exhibiting Nature in American Zoos

In this paper I explore the problems and tensions inherent in staging naturalistic zoo exhibits, which requires zoos to negotiate among a variety of competing aesthetic and organizational demands, including the cultural expectations of audiences, the educational mission of zoos, and the practicalities of managing live animal species. The negotiation zoos that I call nature making. I discuss four dilemmas encountered when creating naturalistic zoo exhibits, as well as three specific strategies of nature making: the spatial control of sight lines; the simulation of nature through plant simulators, synthetics, and live animal handling practices; and the censorship of certain animal behaviors and husbandry practices from public view. I conclude by discussing the implications of this research for understanding how theme parks, science museums, and other similarly focused cultural attractions are staged in the urban environment.

Required Reading

Workshop 2/17: Alison Gerber
CCS Junior Fellow

Required Reading

Workshop 2/24: Laura Grindstaff
University of California, Davis

Class Dismissed: Performative Logics in U.S. Reality Programming

Although scholarship on reality television has grown apace with the genre itself, very little of it focuses on issues of social class. This essay explores what might be considered the ‘performance logic’ of reality programming as it relates to the cultural politics of class. Having conducted ethnographic research on two different genres of reality television in the US (daytime talk shows in the 1990s and, more recently, the MTV docusoap Sorority Life), I am interested in the tensions between class as an embodied phenomenon and class as a discursive phenomenon as parlayed by social institutions such as the media. As many scholars have noted, the ‘therapeutic turn’ in contemporary Western societies from the 1970s onward signals a new middle-class sensibility rooted in the reflexive performance of individual subjectivity (see Rieff 1966, Foucault 1979, Lasch 1979, Giddens 1991, Beck 1992), a sensibility that the new media environment amplifies in particular ways. The investment in, and performance of, the self have become moral imperatives, serving as measures of both individual worth and cultural value (capital). How to think this about this imperative in light of traditional class-based distinctions that exhort us to conceal rather than reveal private life?

Required Reading

Workshop 3/2: Sorcha Alexandrina Brophy
CCS Junior Fellow

Hi all,

Thanks in advance for reading.

The attached paper is an article draft I’m hoping to send out soon. I initially presented a paper on this topic as my second year paper (that draft is now a paper mostly about gender). Now, two years later I’ve gone back and added a ton more data, and attempted to develop a much more generalizable concept, and to weed out the 7 or 8 potential papers that were in my initial draft. Since I’m very interested in casting off the shackles of my 2nd year paper, I’d like to note that I’m pretty wedded to the structure of this paper (and not planning to write any other papers from this). I’d really like feedback about how to make this paper work best within the structure I’ve currently set up.

My apologies for the unfinished bits. I wanted to make sure that all of the sections were there, so some of them are a bit rough. Especially the “discussion” section, which though probably the most important, is currently non-existent. The paper is yet unedited. square brackets are intended to denote [ideas that I will return to to make them read more writerly/fluidly].

See you Friday,

Required Reading

Workshop 3/:23 Annika Arnold
University of Stuttgart, CCS Visiting Graduate Student

Required Reading

Workshop 3/30: Andreas Glaeser
University of Chicago, CCS Faculty Fellow

Sociotheology: Social Imaginaries and Political Fantasies in the Hebrew Bible

What you have before you is not really a paper in the strict sense, but a text offering a preview onto a multi-volume book project. The material at hand will find its way into several chapters of the first volume. To cope with length issues I have minimized the theory part in the paper proper. Those of you who feel at the end that they still might want to read a bit more, or those of you who have little interest in the Bible (maybe I can persuade you that this is a mistake from a sociological point of view) but cherish theory, may want to consult the appendix offering a somewhat fuller theoretical model of how I so far think about the imagination in general and the social imagination in particular.

This text is also still very much work in progress, the first steps in developing an argument. The text is in parts still raw and in yet other still unfinished.

Many thanks for taking the time to read this paper. I am looking forward to your questions and comments.

Required Reading

Workshop 4/6: Bernhard Giesen
University of Konstanz, CCS Faculty Fellow

Demons, monsters, puzzles and victims

When we, while entangled and immersed in everyday life, encounter phenomena that resist neat classification and that run counter to our expectations, we can cope with such experiences by various ways. In most cases we simply try to ignore weird encounters, and to treat the uncommon as if would be normal, regular and ordinary. These attempts can fail. We cannot, in this case, escape and avoid facing the anormal, disturbing and confusing phenomena. The weird, creepy and monstrous cross the boundary that is supposed to exclude it and to protect us. If it enters our internal and familiar realm, it has to be outdistanced again. Should it persist and, despite our efforts, not vanish beyond the horizon, we ourselves tend to retreat and to flee.

The following remarks try to outline different perspectives on the weird and the monstrous . They frame and cope with it by locating it in a field defined by distance and proximity, visibility and concealedness, attraction and disgust. I will call them the demonological, the museological, the epistemological and the victimological gaze. I do not, of course, claim this to be an exhaustive account. Other perspectives are equally possible among them e.g. stigmatization, divine punishment and imprisonment.

Required Reading

Workshop 4/6: Lynette Spillman
University of Notre Dame, CCS Visiting Faculty Fellow

Readings from Solidarity in Strategy

Hi All–

In contrast to the usual workshop practice, but because I am stepping in here at the last minute, these are finished chapters from my forthcoming book, Solidarity in Strategy. But although the project is done, your questions and critiques will be helpful as I re-orient my thinking from the more private realm of discovery and scholarship to the more public realm of discussion (to the extent those realms are separable.)

I’m attaching two chapters, which you could read selectively. Chapter one provides an introduction and overview of the larger study. The longer chapter five provides a close empirical analysis of solidarity in business associations.

(You can ignore the frontmatter in the pdf with chapter one, and chapter four, which is bundled with chapter 5 in the same pdf)

I look forward to your thoughts


Required Reading

Workshop 4/20: Shai Dromi
CCS Junior Fellow

At Cross Purposes: The Red Cross and the Reinvention of Humanitarian Activism, 1859-1899

Much of modern transnational humanitarian activity is organized around a notion of an ongoing wave of emergencies that requires constant volunteer interventions. Natural disasters, plagues, internal conflicts, mass population displacement, and wars, communicated by news and social media and publicized by transnational advocates serve as fertile grounds for this perception. But while such calamities have been an inseparable part of social life, the incessant concern they elicit among a growing transnational humanitarian community is very much a modern phenomenon. This chapter would like to offer a cultural analysis of the changes in humanitarian thought and practices in the mid-19th century, and to claim that much of what has become commonsense assumptions for later activists was institutionalized in that era. By focusing on the International Committee of the Red Cross, which emerged as a central actor in transnational politics in the 1860s, this chapter demonstrates that it was not simply its organizational characteristics or the prevailing cultural atmosphere in Europe at the time that helped it proffer new understandings of humanitarianism and humanitarian emergencies. Rather than that, it was in the way in which it helped reformulate existing concerns about moral agency and warfare that it was truly innovative. As this chapter hopes to show, the new assumptions it helped institutionalize created the groundwork for subsequent humanitarian activism.

Required Reading