Culture and identity

A metatheoretical reformulation

Authored by: Andreas Glaeser

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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Many of the problems riddling the debates about adequate conceptualizations of culture and identity can be avoided by moving to a metatheoretical level of analysis which grasps “all that can recognizably differ” between social arrangements and persons (sensory, discursive, and emotive understandings, practices, habits, social relations etc.) as institutions emerging co-constitutively from within the effect flows of interconnected activities. The metatheory offered here explains how to analyze these processes of co-constitution in some detail. It describes the boundaries of social arrangements as emerging from breaks in effect flows. It differentiates the societal as totality of interconnected flows reproducing arrangements as a whole from the cultural reproducing only the activity guiding understandings within that whole. It reveals the incongruity between these two flows as producing feedback gaps best seen as cultural externalities. It suggests further that cultural dynamics emerge from attempts to address the problems emerging from cultural externalities. Moreover, the model understands the cultural not as the result of sharing, but as entanglement in co-constitutive dynamics. Finally, it enables the analysis of the political uses of the terms culture and identity by showing how they are deployed to simultaneously particularize and generalize in laying descriptive and moral claims on others.

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