“Culture studies” and the culture complex

Authored by: Tony Bennett

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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In this chapter, I suggest that science studies and actor-network theory (ANT) provide useful models for the development of forms of cultural analysis – which, analogically, I call “culture studies” – capable of illuminating how culture operates as a historically distinctive set of assemblages (the “culture complex” of my title), which act on the social in a variety of ways. I then relate these concerns to those of Foucauldian governmentality theory to suggest how the analysis of culture might best be approached when viewed as part of a field of government. My contention is that a distinctive field of cultural government has been shaped into being via the deployment of the modern cultural disciplines (literature, aesthetics, art history, folk studies, drama, heritage studies, cultural sociology, and cultural and media studies) in the apparatuses of the culture complex (museums, libraries, cinema, broadcasting, universities, schools, heritage sites, etc.) as distinctive technologies that connect particular ways of doing and making – particular regimes of cultural practice – to regularized ways of acting on the social to bring about calculated changes in conduct related to particular rationalities of government.

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