Download e-book for kindle: A Society of Signs? by David Harris

By David Harris

ISBN-10: 0415111285

ISBN-13: 9780415111287

An creation to present debates round the issues of tradition, identification and way of life. Such debates frequently commence with the statement that we are living in a "society of signs". good points contain: precis and demanding dialogue of a few uncomplicated ways in social concept and cultural research; key readings of a few of the paintings of writers together with Barthes and Giddens; reports of labor in additional conventional parts, for instance, the sociology of id and the embedding technique present in social lifestyles; and recommendation on extra examining.

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Theoretical complexity can be added to functionalism too, as we have seen already. Parsons (see Craib 1992b) and Merton (1968) clearly tried to synthesise other approaches in their systems and frameworks, for example. Parsons adopts a technique that Craib (1992b) calls a ‘filing cabinet’ approach, where (briefly) social action or conflict is added as a separate level or as a special subcategory in an overall system of some complexity. Craib (1992a) hints at similar criticisms in Giddens’s synthesis, to which we shall move below.

It is possible to conform to official values ironically, of course, or even to push them to absurdity in satire. On a more individualistic level, there are terms like bricolage, used to explain cultural change in Lévi-Strauss’s work. Briefly, the bricoleur is a kind of cultural odd-job man who manages to stitch together cultural fragments in a novel way. New myths are created in this way, from pieces of older mythical material, old themes and stories, and various cultural legacies. The talent of the bricoleur consists in working contemporary references into this material, and occasionally perceiving that material that lies to hand can be pressed into service—that honey can be made to stand for important bodily fluids, for example, or that cooking can become a symbolic activity, in Lévi-Strauss’s examples.

Substantial problems arise with the project to ‘add’ some sort of linguistics to Marxism too, to try and close with the specifics of ideological significations (which we illustrated here with Mepham’s work). Subsequent chapters explore the unfortunate consequences of liaisons of this kind. Whether it is Barthes or Foucault who is bolted on, it proves hard to keep at bay the tendencies towards linguistic imperialism, where we come to see the central concepts of Marxism not as privileged devices to keep linguistic analysis on the track of exposing ideology, but as linguistic practices themselves, as equally open to deconstruction.

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A Society of Signs? by David Harris


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