Explaining Culture

Explaining Culture : The Social Pursuit of Subjective Order

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This book is about our appreciation for order and meaningfulness. It offers a new theory of that feeling inspired by Durkheim and Marx, then derives other theories to answer a range of questions: why we like to make ourselves orderly (in Chapter Three's theory of identity and commitment), why create shared orders of meaning (in Chapter Four's theory of culture); how we create those orders collaboratively through conversation (Chapter Five), and also through narrative, symbolic, and ritualistic formats (Chapter Six), and how orders of meaning are created in response to social structural position (Chapter Seven). In the end, this book shows how our sense of order both integrates and segregates us into productive associations with one another. And so, Explaining Culture is able to explain two patterns common to all growth: expansion and centralization. We see how our desire for novelty disperses us for resources, and that for familiarity draws us together to create meaningful order from them.
Indeed, this book may offer a new approach to answering one of the most basic questions in both social and natural science: the question of how organic systems like society are created and maintained. Explaining Culture is an important new step in answering our most basic questions about culture, social interaction, and the emergence of order. The unique contribution of this work is in identifying the determinants of meaningfulness, and the ways we make the world meaningful by ordering it. Our valuing of order is rarely mentioned in sociology, but this book shows how it is the key influence in how we order ourselves and each other.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 160 pages
  • 157.48 x 231.14 x 17.78mm | 453.59g
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • New
  • 073911638X
  • 9780739116388

Table of contents

Chapter One: Alienation and Anomia as a Basis for Theorizing Culture Chapter Two: Knowledge-Based Affect and the Pleasures of Order Chapter Three: Putting Our Selves in Order: An Epistemological Identity Theory Chapter Four: The Social Pursuit of Meaningfulness: An Epistemological Theory of Culture Chapter Five: The Pursuit of Meaningfulness Through: Epistemological Conversation Chapter Six: Conditions for Community and Culture Chapter Seven: Network Position, Knowledge-Based Affect, and Cultural Manipulation Chapter Eight: Conclusion
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Review quote

What is the nature of order? What is the nature of self? What is the inextricable link among individuals, social interaction, culture and society? These questions have fascinated and befuddled social scientists for a long time. Loren Demerath's Explaining Culture: The Social Pursuit of Subjective Order offers remarkably coherent and highly persuasive answers to these questions and does so by brilliantly merging insights from an array of subfields in sociology-among them, sociology of emotion, social psychology, social organization, and culture. This book will be of great interest to anyone studying these areas and to social scientists who want to read a compelling articulation of the connection between individuals and society. -- Brian Powell, Indiana University Not ironically, the topics explored in this masterfully conceived volume are precisely what make this work invaluable: Meaningfulness, conceptual power, uniqueness, verbal articulation. Few in our field have that rare ability to wrap a superior mind around the most difficult and yet essential matters of being in the world, such as the subjective reading of society and culture. Loren Demerath appears to be one of the special ones. Explaining Culture is a gem of a book. -- Thomas J. Cottle
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About Loren Demerath

Loren Demerath is associate professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology at Centenary College of Louisiana.
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