Download Cultural Theory and the Problem of Modernity by Alan Swingewood PDF

By Alan Swingewood

This e-book offers a accomplished account of other sociological theories of tradition. studying and evaluating Marxist contributions from Gramsci, the Frankfurt college and Raymond Williams with the paintings of Weber, Durkheim, Simmel and Parsons, the writer in flip contrasts those contributions with modern cultural conception. suggestions and theories of tradition similar to hegemony, strength box and cultural materialism are mentioned, and the paintings of Habermas, Bourdieu, Bakhtin, Jameson and Bell is tested significantly. the writer develops a sociological method of the learn and research of tradition that enables the advanced nature of social context to be taken under consideration. Arguing that cultural conception needs to both increase theories of organisation and self, he reports the ways in which either classical and modern sociological and Marxist theories have failed during this regard.

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In Weber's model, human action does not proceed automatically from the workings of specific 'material' forces but flows from a complex process involving ideas and agents motivated by cultural values. Without the ideology of Protestantism, for example, capitalism could never have developed; it was necessary for agents to internalise the values of the Protestant ethic and translate them into economic and social principles enabling action to take place. Protestant ideology constituted a specific cultural orientation to the social world, one which rejected luxury and immediate consumption in favour of the postponement of worldly gratification and the avoidance of 'all spontaneous enjoyment of life'.

Bloch's major concept, the 'not yet', opposed the rigid notion of a predetermined future while remaining firmly rooted in social and historical reality, for any possible future must be grounded in the social and historical process. The 'not yet' is an implicit presence within the existing reality, its potential realised through human action. And it is culture which provides the basis for social change. As cultural forms develop they tend to outstrip their material foundations, leading to what Bloch calls a 'cultural surplus' which finds expression in utopian hopes and longings, ideas and aspirations embodied in literary and artistic genres (including fairy stories), in carnivals and in dreams.

Simmel, 1990, p. 175) In opposition, then, both to sociological positivism and mechanistic Marxism, Simmel sought to recover the concept of society as the product of socially mediated human action, arguing that traditional sociology had tended to ignore the 'real' life of society as 'we encounter it in our experience'. Simmel's task lay in examining the 'microscopic molecular' social processes, the invisible threads woven between individuals, laying bare the hidden relationships that constitute sociation or interaction.

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