The Relation(s) Between People and Cultural Kinds

How do people relate to cultural kinds? This is a big topic that will be the subject of future posts. For now, I will say that the discussion has been muddled mostly because, in the history of cultural theory, some cultural kinds have been given excessive powers compared to persons. …

Cognition and Cultural Kinds (Continued)

Culture and Cognition: Rethinking the Terms of the Debate As noted in the previous post, very few sociologists today doubt that insights from cognitive science are relevant for the study of cultural phenomena. In that respect, DiMaggio’s (1997) call to consider the implications of cognition for cultural analysis has not …

Cognition and Cultural Kinds

What the proper relationship should be between “culture” and “cognition” has been a fundamental issue ever since the emergence of psychology as a hybrid science in the middle of the nineteenth century (Cole, 1996). This question became even more pressing with the consolidation of anthropology and sociology as standalone socio-cultural …

Does Labeling Make a Thing “a Thing”?

“Reality is continuous” Zerubavel (1996:426) tells us, “and if we envision distinct clusters separated from one another by actual gaps it is because we have been socialized to ‘see’ them.” This assumption, that without “socialization” an individual would experience reality as meaningless—or as William James (1890:488) said of the newborn …

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 …

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 …

Image Schemas: The Physics of Cultural Knowledge?

Recent posts by Omar (see here and here) discuss the importance of specifying underlying philosophical claims when conceptualizing culture. The first post distinguishes ontic philosophical claims (about the nature of an entity/process) from epistemic philosophical claims (about the best way to gain knowledge about an entity/process), noting that “a lot …

Four arguments for the cognitive social sciences

Despite increasing efforts to integrate ideas, concepts, findings and methods from the cognitive sciences with the social sciences, not all social scientists agree this is a good idea. Some are indifferent to these integrative attempts. Others consider them as overly reductionist and, thereby, as a threat to the identity of …