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May 2009

How Culture Changes: Looking Back at The Meanings of May - Paris 1968 - Vera L. Zolberg, New School for Social Research

At its best, sociology is an ongoing conversation in which ideas are exchanged among scholars that sometimes lead to unexpected developments in knowledge. This is what occurred to me a year after re-reading a statement by Elizabeth Long on "Stories as Models," in which she proposed ways in which anecdotes and small stories may serve sociologists to introduce their work or exemplify a point.

Creating an Inclusive Venue for Sociological Studies of Language - Celine-Marie Pascale, John Mohr, and Corinne Kirchner

Language, broadly construed as systems of representation, is arguably the foundation of shared culture—it is the premier symbolic system. While language is central to social interaction and social structures, it remains at the margins of sociological research and theory. Given the profoundly interpretative nature of language, studies of language often have been regarded as being more humanistic than scientific.

Cultural Sociology in Japan and the U.S: Hidden Historical and Institutional Contexts - Eiko Ikegami, New School for Social Research, USA

Culture has become one of the most vital fields in American sociology over the past two decades. Not only has the ASA’s section of cultural sociology expanded in size, but in addition cultural perspectives have brought new turns in such related but distinct subfields as comparative historical sociology, economic sociology and sociology of collective actions. More recently, many cultural sociologists have also been involved in discussions of the concept of culture with a wide variety of approaches and foci.

Global Differences in Conceptualizing Culture. The Problem of Translation, the Semantic Changes of the Concept of Culture in German Sociology, and the Promise of a Phenomenological Approach - Thomas S. Eberle, University of St Gallen, Switzerland

To explore the global differences in conceptualizing culture is a noble cause, but also an encyclopedic one which can only be achieved collaboratively. Each member of this panel will do it from his or her personal perspective which is embedded in a particular strand of social science and in a specific local life-world. In my contribution I will focus on three points which I regard as relevant when talking about differences in conceptualizing culture:

Conceptualizing Culture: A Perspective from the South - Evelina Dagnino, University of Campinas, Brazil

Being a Brazilian and a Latin American political scientist, what I would like to explore in my presentation are the efforts in conceptualizing culture which have emphasized the relationships between culture and politics. Since it would be impossible to survey all different traditions and ways of conceiving culture, I think this an interesting venue because it entails not only an interdisciplinary approach but it also implied – and still does - two different struggles.

Looking (desperately?) for cultural sociology in France - Daniel Cefai, Institut Marcel Mauss, EHESS-Paris

There is nothing corresponding to cultural sociology in France. Certainly, we treat the idea of culture to some critical reflection, as you do in the United States. But while “cultural anthropology” and “cultural history” became sub-fields of research, nothing similar happened in sociology. Nevertheless, my feeling is that “trading zones”, to take Lyn Spillman’s phrase (2008), can be established between your American cultural sociology and certain specific branches of French sociology I will discuss briefly.