Sociology’s Motivation Problem (Part II)

In a previous post, we outlined the three critical mistakes sociologists make in theorizing about motivation. We referred to them as the mono-motivational, social-psychological, and list-making fallacies. In this post, we briefly summarize each fallacy. We follow with a more extended discussion on how recent interdisciplinary work in social, cognitive, …

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 …

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 …

Habitus and Learning to Learn: Part II

Beyond the Content-Storage Metaphor The underlying neural structures constitutive of habitus are procedural (Kolers & Roediger, 1984), based on motor-schemas constructed from the experience of interacting with persons, objects, and material culture in the socio-physical world (Gallese & Lakoff, 2005; Malafouris, 2013). Habitus affords the capacity to learn because we …

Habitus and Learning to Learn: Part I

In this and subsequent posts, I will attempt to revise, reconceptualize and update the concept of habitus using the theoretical and empirical resources of contemporary cognitive neuroscience and cognitive social science. I see this step as necessary if this Bourdieusian notion is to have a future in social theory. Conversely, …

“Learning By Nodes”: Dendritic Learning and What It Means (Or Not) for Cultural Sociology

In a paper published earlier this year in Scientific Reports and further discussed in a later ACS Chemical Neuroscience article, a group of researchers argues that learning might not function like we previously thought. The researchers (Sardi et al. 2018a, 2018b) explain that the dominant conceptualization in cognitive neuroscience of …

Limits of innateness: Are we born to see faces?

Sociologists tend to be skeptical of claims individuals are consistent across situations, as a recent exchange on Twitter exemplifies. This exchange was partially spurred by revelations that the famous Stanford Prison Experiment (which supposedly showed people will quickly engage in behaviors commensurate with their assigned roles even if it means …

Beyond Good Old-Fashioned Ideology Theory, Part Two

In part one, I examined two recent frameworks for understanding ideology (Jost and Martin) and explained how both serve as alternatives to the good old-fashioned ideology theory (GOFIT). Ultimately, I concluded that Martin’s (2015) model has specific advantages over Jost’s (2006) model, though the connection between ideology and “practical mastery …

Exaption: Alternatives to the Modular Brain, Part II

Scientists discovered the part of the brain responsible for… In my last post, I discuss one alternative to the modular theory of the mind/brain relationship: connectionism. Such a model is antithetical to modularity in that there are only distributed networks of neurons in the brain, not special-purpose processors. One strength …

To Feel or Not to Feel? That is No Longer the Question

It is highly likely that most readers recall learning about Phineas Gage, a railroad worker who, in 1848, had the misfortune of having a 3.5 inch, 13+ lb. metal rod (with a diameter of 1 ¼ inches) impale him. The rod went through his open mouth, behind his left eye, …

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