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 …

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 …

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 …

Categories, Part III: Expert Categories and the Scholastic Fallacy

There’s a story — probably a myth — about Pythagoras killing one of the members of his math cult because this member discovered irrational numbers (Choike 1980). (He also either despised or revered beans). The Greeks spent a lot of time arguing about arche, or the primary “stuff.” Empedocles argued …

Practice Theory versus Problem-Solving

In 2009, Neil Gross argued that the critique of action as a calculation of means to ends, which had been ongoing for at least the prior thirty years, had been successful. Not only that, the insistence that “action-theoretical assumptions necessarily factor into every account of social order and change and …