Social Performance: Symbolic Action, Cultural Pragmatics, and Ritual (Cambridge Cultural Social Studies)

Social Performance: Symbolic Action, Cultural Pragmatics, and Ritual (Cambridge Cultural Social Studies)

Jeffrey C. Alexander, Bernhard Giesen, Jason L. Mast

Language: English

Pages: 393

ISBN: 052167462X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Taking a "cultural pragmatic" approach to meaning, the contributors suggest a new way of looking at the continuum that stretches between ritual and strategic action. They do so by developing, for the first time, a model of "social performance". This volume offers the first systematic and analytical framework that transforms the metaphor into a social theory and applies it to a series of facinating large-scale social and cultural processes--from September 11 and the Clinton/Lewinsky Affair, to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Willy Brandt's famous "kneefall" before the Warsaw momument.

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large. In his chapter, “Social dramas, shipwrecks, and cockfights: conflict and com- plicity in social performance,” Isaac Reed argues that three classic anthropo- logical works, which have been read as paradigmatic statements delimiting how culture should be analytically situated vis-à-vis action, can more fruitfully be read, in light of the cultural pragmatic turn, as representing ideal types of social performance. Reed offers a detailed rereading of Turner’s (1974b) social drama of

the characteristic qualities of such persuasion is what is best described as general aura of ethical romanticism. 23. Indeed, what distinguishes the destruction of the World Trade Center as a theatrical event was the way it set off a chain of further events from which not only discourses An alternative view of the rationalities of power 255 but scripts, scenes, and stock parts unfold, increasing uncertainty, public fear, a ballet of responses that called for a display of force. The play

sociological expla- nations, others were arguing that late-capitalist, postmodern societies’ meaning systems are too fragmented and commodified, their audiences too jaded and skeptical, for ritual-like productions to actively engage members of an imag- ined community (Wagner-Pacifici 1986; Jameson 1982: 84–5). This latter line of theoretical speculation performs a kind of contorted dance: simultaneously attributing central explanatory importance to culture while arguing capitalism has

112), is momentarily created amongst ritual participants. Liminal social conditions foster an atmosphere of communitas, in which ritual participants are brought closer to the existential and primordial, and distanced from dependence on the cognitive, which Turner associated with the structured, normative social order. In such moments, the “unused evolutionary potential in mankind which has not yet been externalized and fixed in structure” is released, and ritual participants are free to

on November 26, 1778, but does not drop anchor and come ashore to Kealakekua bay until January 17, 1779, after having circumnavigated the island of Hawaii. There he is greeted with cries of “O Lono!” and escorted by priests to the principal temple, where he is made to imitate the wooden image of Lono, and worshipped with chants, anointed with coconut oil, and fed by hand. This ceremony is repeated on later days in different temples. On January 25, King Kalaniopuu arrives. On February 1 a

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