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Published in: Qualitative Sociology 2/2016

13-04-2016

The Sources of Cultural Power: Beyond the Cultural Arbitrary

Authors: David Smilde, Geneviève Zubrzycki

Published in: Qualitative Sociology | Issue 2/2016

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Excerpt

Since the 19 th century the dominant conceptualization of cultural power has been the “cultural arbitrary,” the idea that the meaning of a sign comes not from any substantive relationship to the signified but from its relationship to other signs in a symbolic structure. Put differently, the relationship of the signifier to the signified is arbitrary. The beauty of the cultural arbitrary is that it provides a solid foundation for recognizing the relative autonomy of culture. Culture becomes a structure with its own integrity, and as such is a resource that competes alongside social, economic and political structures and motivations as a determinant of social action. Culture frames the possible, provides moral frameworks for judging the actual, and can motivate the actions of individuals and groups. The scholarship of Jeffrey Alexander and others working within the “strong program” of cultural sociology has shown the analytical purchase and interpretative power of this conceptualization. …
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go back to reference Smilde, David. 2013. Beyond the strong program in the sociology of religion. In Religion on the edge: Decentering and recentering the sociology of religion, ed. Courtney Bender, Wendy Cadge, Peggy Levitt, and David Smilde, 1–22. New York: Oxford UP. Smilde, David. 2013. Beyond the strong program in the sociology of religion. In Religion on the edge: Decentering and recentering the sociology of religion, ed. Courtney Bender, Wendy Cadge, Peggy Levitt, and David Smilde, 1–22. New York: Oxford UP.
Metadata
Title
The Sources of Cultural Power: Beyond the Cultural Arbitrary
Authors
David Smilde
Geneviève Zubrzycki
Publication date
13-04-2016
Publisher
Springer US
Published in
Qualitative Sociology / Issue 2/2016
Print ISSN: 0162-0436
Electronic ISSN: 1573-7837
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11133-016-9327-6

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