The cultural of the political

Toward a cultural sociology of state formation

Authored by: Xiaohong Xu , Philip Gorski

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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Building on an emerging scholarly momentum that seeks to close the gap between the study of culture and the study of the state, we propose a cultural sociology of state formation. We first review the theoretical threads in sociological lineages – ranging from the classical theorists to Foucault and Bourdieu – that can inspire this intellectual endeavor. Then we examine the state of affairs and the problematics in current literature on state and culture – mainly the ontology of culture, the relationship between culture and action, the relationship between culture and social structure – and distinguish three broad categories in current theories of the state: neo-Marxian, neo-Weberian, and neo-Smithian. Lastly, we tease out four subject areas in which a cultural sociology of state formation may bear fruits: (1) state ideas, (2) state boundaries, (3) state rituals, and (4) state classifications.

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