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 …

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 …

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 …

Three Types of Ontic Distinctions About Culture

Following up on a previous discussion, in this post, I argue that it is useful to differentiate between three types of ontic claims about culture that have typically been made in the history of cultural theory. Typically, these ontic claims are made with the goal of isolating the “nature” of …

From “types of culture” to “poles of cultural phenomena”

Recent sociological theorizing on culture has made a distinction between “personal culture” and “public culture” (Cerulo 2018; Lizardo 2017; Patterson 2014; Wood et al. 2018). Precise usage of the concepts varies somewhat, but generally speaking, personal culture refers to culture stored in declarative and nondeclarative memory, and public culture refers …

Types of claims about culture and cultural phenomena

A relatively neglected task of cultural analysis (or cultural/culture theory) concerns itself with specifying the nature (and therefore expected properties) of the sorts of entities and processes that can be said to be cultural. Most serious cultural theorists do this, but they are seldom explicit to note that this is …

Identifying Cultural Variation in Thinking

What does it mean to identify cultural variation in thought? Sociologists routinely identify differences in the way people think or reason about things (e.g., Young 2004), but what does it mean to think differently, and how are differences identified? In this post, I introduce a way of thinking about this …

When is Consciousness Learned?

Continuing with the theme of innateness and durability from my last post, consider the question: are humans born with consciousness? In a ground-breaking (and highly contested) work, the psychologist Julian Jaynes argued that if only humans have consciousness, it must have emerged at some point in our human history. In …

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