Status distinctions and boundaries

Authored by: Murray Milner

Routledge Handbook of Cultural Sociology

Print publication date:  October  2018
Online publication date:  November  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138288621
eBook ISBN: 9781315267784
Adobe ISBN:


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General theories, which suggest explanations across many seemingly diverse cultural settings, are not antithetical to paying careful attention to culture and cultural variations. This principle is illustrated by showing how a general theory of status relations and careful attention to cultural variations can provide useful explanations for three very different phenomena: (1) the regulation of eating and sex to maintain status differences in contexts as varied as teenage peer groups, the Indian caste system, the pre-1950s US South, and Latin America; (2) the nearly unconscious adoption of the therapeutic (rather than punitive) response to failure and deviance in societies strongly committed to capitalism; and (3) why Britain was the country that voted to withdraw from the European Union. Combining a suitable general theory with cultural analysis provides insights not attainable by the sole use of either approach.

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