Internalized Cultural Kinds

Internalization used to be a central concept in cultural theory in sociology, anthropology, psychology, and related fields. It was the theoretical centerpiece of Talcott Parsons’s blend of anthropological culture theory, sociological functionalism, and Freudian psychoanalysis ensuring the “interpenetration” of the cultural, social, and personality systems (Alexander, 2014; Kuper, 2009; Lizardo, …

Varieties of Implicitness in Cultural-Cognitive Kinds

In a previous post, I addressed some issues in applying the property of “implicitness” to cultural kinds. There I made two points; first, unlike other ontological properties considered (e.g., concerning location or constitution), implicitness is a relational property. That is, when we say a cultural kind is implicit, we presume that there is …

What is “Implicit” Culture?

In an article currently available online first at American Journal of Cultural Sociology, Christina Simko and Jeff Olick (hereafter S&O) propose and develop a new dimensional characterization of cultural phenomena, what they refer to as a “four facet” model of culture. On the one hand, they distinguish between cultural phenomena along a dimension separating (public) discourses and …

Rethinking Cultural Depth

The issue of whether some culture is “deep” versus “shallow” has been a thorny one in both classical and contemporary theory. The basic argument is that for some piece of culture to have the requisite effects (e.g., direct action) then it must be incorporated at some requisite level of depth. …

A Typology of Cultural Practices

In a post-Bourdieu world, it is quite uncontroversial to think of practices as bona fide cultural kinds, with some analysts speaking unabashedly of “cultural practices” as possibly the most important type of cultural phenomenon in the social and human sciences (e.g., Reckwitz 2002; Sewell 2005; Swidler 2001). This means that …

Habitus and Learning to Learn: Part III

Language, Habitus, and Cultural Cognition The recasting of habitus as a neuro-cognitive structure conducive to learning opens up promising avenues otherwise foreclosed in traditional cultural theory (see here and here for previous discussion). However, it also opens up some analytical difficulties, especially when it comes to the role of language …

Hierarchical versus dimensional taxonomies of cultural kinds

Hierarchies versus Dimensions: Let them Fight! A new collection of essays on autobiographical memory (Organization and Structure of Autobiographical Memory, edited by John Mace), provides a state of the art overview of the most recent work on this form of memory. Chapters range across the board, including contributions from a …

Compositional pluralism, causal history, and the concept of culture

In previous posts (see here and here) I made the case for the importance of specifying underlying philosophical claims when conceptualizing culture and cultural phenomena. First, I distinguished between what I called epistemic and ontic claims about culture (following the philosopher Mark Rowland’s 2010 similar argument with regard to the …