An Essay on Culture: Symbolic Structure and Social Structure by Bennett M. Berger

By Bennett M. Berger

The results of 35 years of notion and examine on tradition via the best and so much literate writers in sociology, this wide-ranging evaluate of the which means and examine of tradition is Bennett Berger at his most sensible. Drawing on his unsurpassed wisdom of the scholarly literature and on his wealth of private adventure, Berger reports and synthesizes contemporary paintings in cultural sociology from a materialist standpoint. His essay culminates in a decision for an empirical learn application excited by the relation among symbolic offerings and social destinations, instead of on interpretive money owed of the meanings of texts or performances.Among his strange insights are a safeguard of reductionism, sympathetic money owed of "peer strain" and "special interests," an try to restoration a few dignity to the observe "ideology," and a clean point of view on "conspiracy theory."Scholars and scholars of tradition alike will locate right here wonderful discussions and theoretical insights on ideological paintings, morality and tradition, and at the kin among social constitution and cultural constitution.

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97) was no less rational than he. Nature, at least, had sponsored both of them. EARLY THEORIES OF SOCIOCULTURAL EVOLUTION Evolution, taken to mean the change of one form into another, is a concept which few, if any, ideological traditions have failed to apply to sociocultural phenomena. That this understanding of evolution is the historically critical one in Western culture, despite its simplicity, is evidenced by the resistance with which the bare notion of biological transformation was greeted.

The fatal potentialities of this approach are realized as soon as an attempt is made to explain customs which because they are totally unfamiliar appear to be totally irrational. It is like the case of the American psychiatrist of my acquaintance who asked his interpreter what a mental patient in a Bahian hospital had just said: "Nothing, doctor, it's too stupid to repeat," was the answer. That was precisely the quandary of Demeunier. For a brief moment, this great ethnographer stood, a hundred years before his time, on the threshold of the study of totemism.

For Lucretius' evolution was a cosmic process, 26 z. Enlightenment responsible for the diversity of all levels of phenomena. A confluence of atoms formed the world. appeared. Later came the animals, including man. Spontaneous generation ceased and the earth no longer bore new life. Monstrous variations on existing forms appeared, but they did not survive. Early man started as a brute, hardier than modern man, larger-boned, stronger-sinewed, and less affected by climatic extremes. At first, men lived like beasts, without the plow and without iron tools with which to work the fields, plant, or cut down trees.

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