Workshop in Cultural Sociology, 2012 ~ 2013

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 is held in the 2nd floor seminar room at 210 Prospect Street and starts at 11:00 AM and ends at 1:00 PM, followed by lunch.

CCS Workshop Poster – 2012-2013

FALL 2012

Workshop 8/31:Organizational Meeting

This week’s meeting will be held in 204 Prospect Street, Room B02

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

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 fall we are happy to greet Andrew Cohen and Todd Madigan as new students. We will have two visiting graduate students here with us, Ruth Sheldon from the University of Kent and Marta Kolankiewicz from Lund University.

We also welcome back Visiting Faculty Fellow Radim Marada from Masaryk University. Also joining us as Visiting Fellows are Richard Badham from Macquarie University, Dick Houtman from Erasmus University, Rotterdam, and Daniel Gutiérrez Martínez from El Colegio Mexiquense. Joining us as well at various times throughout the semester will be Independent Researcher Julia Rozanova of the University of British Columbia and Yale School of Public Health, Faculty Fellow Giuseppe Sciortio from Trento University and Faculty Fellow Magnus Ring from Lund University. As always, we are so very pleased to have such a diverse and interesting group of visitors to work with this year.

Workshop 9/14: Richard Badham
Macquarie University, CCS Visiting Fellow, Fall 2012

The Ironic Manager:
Irony and Performance in Late Modern Organizations

Required Reading

Richard suggests that you begin with The Ironic Manager paper, but switch when it recommends to the other paper.

Workshop 9/21: Ruth Sheldon
University of Kent, Visiting CCS Graduate Student

Complicit Struggles and Dissonant Conflicts:
Israel-Palestine in UK Student Politics

In early 2009, students at twenty-seven British universities hit the national headlines when they occupied their institutions in protest at Israel’s military actions in Gaza. As campus conflicts intensified, these unfolding dramas were alternately framed as pivotal moments in the revival of student radicalism and as a dangerous incursion of the “clash of civilisations” into British campuses. In this paper, I draw on ethnographic research with conflicting student groups at three institutions to offer a cultural pragmatic analysis of their struggles around Israel-Palestine. My aim is to develop conceptual resources for understanding conflict which resist reified notions of cultural identity, or reductive assumptions of rationalized action. I argue that attention to the sacred stakes of these performances shows students engaged in struggles over shared and dissonant meanings, reflecting the complexity of their collective identifications. Out of this analysis, I seek to contribute to cultural pragmatics by theorising the relationship of fusion and ambivalence in contexts of highly charged, intractable conflict.

Required Reading

Workshop 9/28: Dick Houtman
Center for Rotterdam Cultural Sociology (CROCUS),
Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands
CCS Visiting Fellow

Beyond the Science/Religion Conflict:
The Disenchantment of the World and the Decline of Western Dualism

Most of my publications of the last 5-6 years have addressed changes in political and religious culture and, to a lesser extent, changes in popular culture, consumer culture and sociology itself. This paper is a first attempt to try and map the common ground that appears to lie underneath these publications, both in terms of general empirical claims and theoretical ideas. The argument is that since the so-called ‘counter culture’ of the 1960s processes of disenchantment have sparked a massive shift away from religious and scientific dualism in the direction of a romanticism that privileges myth and personal experience.

Required Reading

Workshop 9/28: Erik Ringmar
SJTU, Shanghai
CCS Faculty Fellow

Liberal Barbarism:
Why the Europeans Destroyed the Palace of the Emperor of China

Required Reading

Workshop 10/12: Radim Marada
Masaryk University, CCS Visiting Faculty Fellow

The Historical Origins of Generational Imaginary

This is a condensed part of the Intro and first chapter of a book project designed to present a cultural sociological account of the generational phenomenon. At some points, it may therefore still refer to other places in the (larger) text that are not actually treated here. I leave here a part of the opening overview of Mannheim’s critique of the older theories and his own position in order to outline my analytical perspective in this context, and particularly in contrast to Mannheim himself. I have only a little to add to the second part in the larger text, so it’s almost a full version. The third part consists of two abbreviated ‘case studies’ that I am working on recently. I’ve skipped some sections of these because of their purely empirical-illustrative character. Other sections are not included as they are not yet developed argumentatively. But the main arguments are presented. The conclusion is a little hasty and it outlines some themes or questions for future research.

Required Reading

Workshop 10/19: Sigal Gooldin
Hebrew University, Jerusalem

Globalization and Psychic Suffering:
Anorexia and the Local Semitics of Suffering in Israel

Although the tension between ‘universal’ and ‘particular’ forms of suffering has long been part of the anthropological imagination, it is fairly recently that culture researchers begin to unpack the relations between globalization and psychic suffering. This literature points to a process by which the global flow of some specific ‘Euro-Western’/secular/modern ways of seeing– predominantly ‘psycho-medical’ and ‘liberal’– shape the reality of suffering in contemporary societies at both social and individual levels. This macro perspective has been scantly but growingly accompanied by micro analyses of the experience of suffering (e.g. ‘traumatic distress’) in diverse local settings and political environments. In this paper I argue that the field of eating disorders lends a unique perspective to the study of macro-micro processes which give shape to distinct forms of suffering in contemporary societies. On the one hand, increasing rates of anorexia across ‘Euro-Western’ and ‘other’ regions are understood as the effect of a globalized ‘cults of slimness’. In fact, it has become a truism that the globalization of slimness imageries, ideologies, and industries is the soil on which anorexic suffering grows around the globe. On the other hand, the concrete daily processes which give shape and meaning to the experience of suffering among anorexics are rarely explored. This leaves two largely unattended questions: (a) what goes into the lived reality of anorexic suffering and, (b) how does the semiotics of suffering evolve? While the former requires grounded accounts of the ‘contents’ of distress and psychic pain in a given socio-cultural and historical setting, the later invites an analysis of the social and discursive mechanisms which facilitate these contents.

This paper explores these questions drawing on a multi-site study of anorexia in Israel in 1998-1999, 2007, and 2010-2011. The empirical focus of the paper is on the ways in which narratives and imageries of ‘The Holocaust’ in Israel infiltrate into the semiotics of anorexic suffering. My findings show that the legacy of a devastating collective trauma—and particularly the memory of hunger, the iconic significance of extremely slim bodies of ‘Muselmanns’, and a moral cosmology of victimhood and choice— shapes the experience of ‘being’ and ‘acting’ anorexic in Israel in unique ways. These unique contents of suffering emerge in personal biographies of anorexics, and in the course of interpersonal encounters with concrete and imagined others. I show that this local semiotics of anorexic suffering evolve in inter-subjective process involving anorexics, their families, peers, therapists, and others community members among which are holocaust survivors, and second/third generations of descendants.

I argue that while anorexic women in Israel share many of the cultural dispositions familiar to young women in the era of globalized affluent societies, the particular socio-historical and political setting within which they ‘become’ and ‘act’ anorexic shape distinctive forms of suffering, and possibly of therapeutic trajectories.

Required Reading

Workshop 11/2: Hannah S. Kully
Collector of Iconic Fine Prints, Promised Gifts to the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, California

Constructing Surface, Capturing Depth:
Artistic Icons of New York City

How material things become culturally meaningful and how cultural ideas manifest themselves within objects are the underlying themes in this paper. My intention is to further the project of creating a robust theory of culture, drawing upon recent work in sociology utilizing the theory of iconicity (Alexander and Smith, 2001; Bartmanski and Alexander, 2012). Iconicity’s essential components are the visible material objects, persons, places or events encountered daily in life and the invisible meanings that underlie these material things. Icons are concrete surface forms that store in their depth, in condensed arrangements, collectively held social meanings. The popular notion of an icon is that it is an object that stands above all others in its power to symbolize social meaning. The Brooklyn Bridge, for example, has an abundance of iconic power to represent the special magic of New York City. I consider icons to include all the material things of life and the meanings they hold, no matter how trivial or mundane they may seem. Although how surface and depth relations of iconicity work can most easily be revealed in studies of powerful icons, there are advantages to a wider definition.

Required Reading

Workshop 11/9: Joseph Klett
Yale University, CCS Junior Fellow

Making Space for Sound Out of Place:
Spatial practices in American Music Education

Music education is the most wide-reaching and primary social engagement with sounds as objects. Music teachers attune a captive audience of novice listeners to a dominant classification of sound through curriculum. This paper uses ethnographic data from three elementary school music classrooms to detail curriculum as it develops in practice. Compulsory music education in United States public schools is developed out of two ideal types of pedagogy, formal and relational. The ideology and modes of objectification inherent in teacher pedagogies direct attention toward relevant sound materials while ignoring others in constructed musical space. Observation of the systematic interactions of “everyday” classroom practice reveal how the elaborate symbolism of formalism or the expansive permeability of relationalism are co-constructed with sound as a structural element. Sound has casual power, and structuring sound is the first step toward organizing, naturalizing, and thereby controlling this power. In conclusion, the limits of both ideal types are discussed.

Required Reading

Workshop 11/16: Carolyn Ly
Yale University, CCS Junior Fellow

Being “the brotherhood?”:
Symbolic boundaries in the everyday reproduction of culture

Required Reading

Workshop 10/30: Daniel Gutierrez Martinez
El Colegio Mexiquense, CCS Visiting Fellow

The Individual’s Invention: The Logic of Interculturality Theories in Action

Required Reading

Workshop 12/7: Sarah Daynes
University of North Carolina, Greensboro

The social life of terroir among Bordeaux winemakers

The paper attached is the first publication related to my current ethnographic fieldwork with winemakers in the Bordeaux area. It reflects early findings, so please treat it as it is: an early, pretty unelaborate reflection on the uses of terroir among the winemakers I work with. I am still conducting fieldwork, and will continue to do so for the next couple of years. My research project is about the intersections between science, craft and culture in winemaking. In addition to ethnographic fieldwork with winemakers, I will soon start interviewing scientists who work on vitiviniculture and will use a corpus of scholarly and non-scholarly publications. I will talk about this further next week. Finally, my winemaking project is related to another one, on theoretical thinking and objectification in the physical and social sciences. Perhaps we’ll have time to talk about this, as well, although the project is in its infancy stage right now.

Required Reading

Workshop 1/18: Elisabeth Becker
Yale University, CCS Junior Fellow

Reifying Religious Boundaries on Belonging:
Muslim Identity and Otherness in Contemporary Germany

My CCS paper is a draft of my second year paper, in which I aim to show religion as the key boundary to belonging in contemporary Germany. While I utilize boundary-making literature from within–and beyond–the discipline of Sociology, I aim to demonstrate how not only social, but also symbolic boundaries have been shifted away from ethnicity (“Turkishness”) to religion (“Muslimness”), with the same group effectively maintained as outsiders since the mid-20th century guestworker migration to Germany. This paper thus examines identity and belonging in contemporary Germany, in relation to the largest minority group, Turkish-Germans. Engaging in a discussion of boundary-making, it pinpoints religion—specifically, Islam— as the determinant boundary of insider versus outsider status in mainstream German society. Drawing from semi-structured interviews and contemporary news coverage, I suggest that a fuzzy German identity, in combination with changing sociocultural factors, has facilitated a shift from ethnic to religious othering. This can be seen in various debates carried out in the media sphere, including those that attempt to stigmatize (e.g. on radicalism) or assimilate (e.g. on the Islam Conference) the religion of Islam and its many constituents in Germany. In contextualizing mainstream and minority narratives of belonging, this paper further engages a dialectical process of identity formation among Turkish-Germans, who not only experience religion-based exclusion, but themselves privilege religious identity above alternative (i.e. national and/or ethnic) identities.

Required Reading

Workshop 1/25: Andrew Perrin
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Constituting “The People”:
American Democratic Institutions and Their Publics

I am discussing two draft chapters of my book project, Democracy, to be published later this year in Polity’s political sociology series. By way of introduction to the chapters: I’m trying to do two things with the book: (1) make it accessible to an undergraduate/lay audience; and (2) make a theoretically sophisticated argument about democracy as practices-related-to-publics instead of political science’s “minimalist” approach of democracy-as-rule-system. These chapters are drafts, certainly not ready for production! I look forward to all the workshop’s thoughts, advice, and so on.

Required Reading

Workshop 2/1: Claire Decoteau
University of Illinois at Chicago

Science on Trial:
The Omnibus Autism Proceedings and the Co-Production of Uncertainty

After over 5,600 families of children diagnosed with autism filed claims seeking financial recompense from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, the court selected ‘test’ cases consolidated into the Omnibus Autism Proceeding (OAP) to examine evidence about claims that the MMR vaccine or the ethylmercury preservative, thimerosal, caused the development of autism in children. In the end, the court found all of the causation theories presented to be untenable and failed to award damages to any parents, but through these court cases American biomedicine has been forced to very publicly stand trial. The OAP hearings (2007-2008) have been represented as a decisive victory for ‘good’ science, which effectively shut down any lingering debate about the link between vaccines and autism. And yet, parentgroups continue to contest these findings and concerns about the safety of vaccination are widespread. Why? Through a detailed examination of the OAP court proceedings, we suggest that the answer can be found in the differential approaches to scientific knowledge production utilized by those on both sides of the controversy. Instead of arguing that either proponent of the debate is more or less ‘correct,’ we argue that the ‘reality’ of autism and its causation differs greatly depending on which epistemic form one utilizes to attain evidence and how scientific uncertainty is interpreted. In so doing, we attempt to break down the divide between lay and expert knowledge and show how science and society are co-produced (Jasanoff 2004), leading to two widely divergent ontologies of autism.

Required Reading

Workshop 2/8: Ron Eyerman
Yale University, CCS Director

“Is This America?” Katrina as Cultural Trauma

Required Reading

Workshop 2/15: Michael Yarbrough
Yale University, CCS Junior Fellow

Law and Marriage in a Rural South African Community

The attached paper, “Very Long Engagements: Lobola’s Life amid Marriage’s Death,” is chapter three in my dissertation. This is the first of two chapters of ethnographic analysis of marriage in two communities recently incorporated into South African marriage law. This chapter deals with “customary” or indigenous marriage, as practiced in a Zulu community. The other case involves LGBT people, and I hope to send that chapter (chapter four) around as well in the next day or two, for those of you who have time. Background on the marriage laws, and how I’m analyzing them, can be found in the optional attachment entitled “Toward a Political Sociology of Conjugal-Recognition Regimes,” which corresponds to chapter two of my dissertation. Thanks!

Required Reading


Workshop 2/22: David Smilde
University of Georgia

Hello Lenin!
Students and Socialism in Venezuela

Dear CCS Workshop participants: as per the instructions I received, I am sending a piece of work that is very much in progress. In fact this our very first crack at analyzing and writing about data that is still being collected. The analysis is based on the handful of interviews we have transcribed. However, rather than sticking close to the data, we have tried to develop the full conceptual apparatus as we imagine it will look. We effectively sacrificed analytic rigor for breadth in order to take advantage of the opportunity to discuss our approach in one of the world’s leading centers for the sociological study of culture. Given that the two authors are Venezuela specialists the paper might assume too much regarding the socio-political context. If that is the case, you might want to page through the recommended reading called “Venezuela’s Actually Existing Socialism.” It is the introduction to a book manuscript I am currently working on and provides an overview of the Venezuelan context.

Required Reading


Workshop 2/28: Yasushi Tanaka-Gutiez
Yale University, CCS Junior Fellow

Cultural Praxis and Mass Mobilizations:
A Comparison of Occupy Wall Street and the London Riots

The year 2011 saw the eruption of two significant mass mobilizations: Occupy Wall Street and the London Riots. Analysed through the literatures on social movements and deviance, the former would be characterized as a democratic movement, while the latter would be considered a threat to democratic society. A cultural sociological analysis, however, exposes both mass mobilizations to have been directed towards a democratic end. Through the engagement with collectively shared cultural structures, both mass mobilizations were an attempt to identify with mainstream democratic culture. A number of epistemologically contributions are made. Firstly, the notion of a ‘social movement’ and ‘deviance’ is debunked as I propose that we study ‘mass mobilizations’ that stand outside the falsehood of causally oriented social science. Secondly, I propose to replace causal analysis with the interpretive analysis of cultural praxis.

Required Reading

Workshop 3/8: Steve Kroll-Smith
University of North Carolina at Greensboro

A Tale of Two American Cities:
Disaster, Class and Citizenship in San Francisco 1906 and New Orleans 2005

The history of San Francisco’s Chinatown following the 1906 earthquake and fire and New Orleans’ public housing following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 reveal how powerful class interests collude with the fog of disaster to lay claim to the urban spaces of the poor and marginal. In two historic U.S. disasters we witness the concerted efforts of urban elites to confiscate the spaces of two politically vulnerable populations: the Chinese in 1906 and low-income African-Americans in 2005. The widely varying outcomes of these two attempts reveal a good deal about the intersection of calamity, class, race, and citizenship in American history.

Required Reading

Workshop 3/29: Sorcha Alexandrina Brophy
Yale University, CCS Junior Fellow

Logics of Moral Authority

In the following paper I discuss the role of moral authority in the politics of two regulatory settings. I explore the dynamics between sets of actors in two cases—first, between physicians and non-MD professionals on a committee of a large national medical organization, and second, between clerics and professors in the governance of the college of a large Protestant denomination. Though these two settings are quite different, they are both ones in which the actors concerned develop moral standards to govern relationships between different members of their respective communities, and ones in which there is contestation over the types of professional expertise that can be translated into moral authority.

This paper is intended as part of a dissertation project about the normative logics that shape institutional processes of moral review. In the dissertation, I investigate the ways that regulatory bodies attempt to codify and standardize practices, and to determine appropriate relationships [between actors, their work, and the public].

Required Reading

Workshop 4/5: Matthias Revers
State University of New York at Albany, CCS Pre-doctoral Fellow

The Twitterization of Journalism

News media have embraced social media, most recently Twitter, in order to maintain and reclaim relevance and interpretive authority in the networked public sphere. Twitter is not a tool but affects how journalism is understood and performed by its practitioners. This paper is based on a two-year-ethnography of the New York State Government news ecosystem (C. Anderson, 2010) and traces parallel yet varying paths of adopting Twitter and refusal thereof among competing political reporters. In this process, traditionalists’ essentialist understanding of journalism clashes with a diversified understanding of social media-embracing journalists, promoting ideas of multiple journalistic norms and identities on different platforms. The transformative efficacies of Twitter-aided reporting are framed by an emerging cultural logic of transparency. On Twitter, journalists emphasize mutual appreciation and assume reciprocity from competitors. They feel less bound to abide by the standards of balanced and detached reporting and more willing to insert themselves and their opinions to the news. Finally, they perceive news less as a result than a publicly unfolding process of developing news.

Workshop 4/12: Shai Dromi
Yale University, CCS Junior Fellow

The Rise of the Red Cross, 1864-1899:
From Moral Entrepreneur to Communicative Institution

International nongovernmental organizations (INGO’s) frequently communicate social criticism in the name of what they hold to be universal values or common humanity. In order to voice such critiques, INGO’s often present themselves as impartial spectators. This position provides them with a self-proclaimed bird’s-eye view of social circumstances from which to morally evaluate state and non-state actors. Focusing on the Red Cross Movement in its early decades (1864-1899), this chapter would like to trace this INGO’s evolvement from a relatively small group of philanthropists to a global power possessing the means to employ its moral code in diverse sites. It draws on Jeffrey Alexander’s notion of communicative institutions as well as Philip Gorski’s explication of Bourdieu’s field theory, and presents evidence from archival research at the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Library of Geneva. This chapter claims that in order to accumulate the moral authority required to serve as a global communicative institution, the Red Cross had to satisfy three conditions: it had to provide a set of folk theories and mythologies about humanitarian activity in warfare, it had to retain a level of cultural coherence across its growing and diversifying bodies, and it had to make its moral economy “exportable” and adaptable to other fields. In so doing, it helped instate the field of transnational humanitarian activism that underpinned much of the INGO sector’s moral authority in the years to come.

Required Reading

Supplemental Reading

Workshop 4/19: Nicolas Howe
Williams College, CCS Faculty Fellow

Landscapes of the Secular

This is a draft chapter of a book on landscape and secularism in America, tentatively titled “The Secular Eye.” It is based on my dissertation but now has portions on both urban built environments and iconic natural landscapes. I hope you enjoy reading it, and I very much look forward to hearing the workshop’s critique.

Required Reading

Workshop 4/26:Grzegorz Brzozowski
University of Warsaw, CCS Visiting Graduate Student

Modern festivity as ritual-like performance:
The case of Polish Catholic Lednica festival

I am more than happy to have the opportunity to present the outline of a section of my research on the festive events developed in Poland after 1989. This is a very initial draft of one of the planned chapters of my Ph.D. dissertation; I have completed the field work and find myself in the midst of trying to understand its outcomes with the categories of ritual-like performance and iconic power. Please treat this as an introduction to discussion, which hopefully will unravel during the coming Friday seminar, when I also hope to present some more visual material gathered from the festival site. Please note that my paper might be missing some more elaborate critical discussion of the theoretical concepts and methodologies applied; I tried to focus more on presenting the first outcomes of my empirical study and did not include (perhaps to a satisfying extent) the recent readings in event and festival studies which I approached while being here (Delanty, Zubrzycki). Last but not least, I would be very grateful for not circulating this text as I sincerely believe it is far from the final version of my analysis.

As a supplementary text I enclose recently published article in Journal of Contemporary Religion, which elaborates on another case of festive event dynamic I followed: the public mourning after the death of John Paul II in 2005.

Required Reading