Durkheimian Sociology and its Discontents, Part II: Why Culture, Social Psychology, & Emotions Matter to Suicide

In a previous post, I argued that despite its importance and “classical” status, sociologists have not contributed to the study of suicide as much as they could. While Anna Mueller and I have yet to posit a general or formal theoretical statement on suicide, in this post, I attempt to …

Where Did Sewell Get “Schema”?

Although there are precedents to using the term “schema” in an analytical manner in sociology (e.g., Goffman’s Frame Analysis and Cicourel’s Cognitive Sociology), it is undoubtedly William Sewell Jr’s “A Theory of Structure: Duality, Agency, and Transformation” published in the American Journal of Sociology in 1992 that really launched the career of …

Beyond Good Old-Fashioned Ideology Theory, Part One

The concept of ideology is surely one of the sacred cow concepts of sociology (and the social sciences more generally) and is one of the special few that circulates widely outside the ivory tower. It is also a concept that is arguably the most indebted of all to the presumption that …

Durkheimian Sociology and its Discontents: Why its Time for a New Sociology of Suicide

Since Durkheim showed that certain social structural factors, external to the individual, had a strong positive relationship to variation in suicide rates, sociologists have maintained the argument that suicide is caused by social forces and, therefore, is a phenomenon squarely in the domain of sociology. Yet, western medical professionals (Marsh …

On the Nature of Habit

Recently, however, some philosophers have begun to pay attention to habits. An example is a series of papers by Bill Pollard starting in the mid-aughts (Pollard, 2006a, 2006b), and more recently Steve Matthews (2017). Pollard tackles some fundamental issues arguing (positively) for habit-based explanations of action as a useful addendum (if …

Culture, Cognition and “Socialization”

Culture and cognition studies in sociology are mainly concerned with the construction,  transmission, and transformation of shared stocks of knowledge. This was clear in the classical theoretical foundations of contemporary work in the sociology of culture laid out in Parsons’s middle period functionalism (Parsons 1951) and in Berger and Luckmann’s …

What’s Cultural About Analogical Mapping?

Analogical mapping is a cognitive process whereby a particular target is understood by analogizing from a particular source. For example, Lakoff and Johnson (1999) have observed that people often reason about love metaphorically as a journey. In a previous post I discussed some experimental evidence supporting the claim that activating …

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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