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Lecture 15

Lecture 15 Feb 1.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Vanina Leschziner

SOC483Y1 – Cultural Repertoires - Swidler and Darnton The Great Cat Massacre - Darnton– comical according to a certain culture (working class) specific to a perspective of a certain culture. - Sleepless night, cat noises, mimic cats, put show on self, massacre goes on because fed up, make a ceremony/ritual out of it- playing from different cultural elements that allow story to play through - End up hanging, killing cats – insight to what they thought was funny – but WHY CATS? o Our inability to get this joke is an indication of our separation from these industrial works; we do not have same lens or perspective… o Historically, who do we get to hear the story from? – we often hear from the bourgeoisie which does not give us an understanding of how actually happens and does not account for varied norms and values. o Printers low class too o Darnton says best point of entry is when you realize there is an incongruity – wrote when printing industry was undergoing big changes o Small guys weeded out, new working class, big corporation – attack on society and livelihood, = all meant a real particular moment in time - They have a guild which has own thought style- ceremonies used, also in work and environment and culture of the working class - Torture of animals was a popular form of entertainment- what they play on – nothing unusual with killing of cats… symbolic use of cats o Cat = big symbolism - Ceremonies- carnival lent – executions include ceremonies - Gruesome but this was reality to them, German cats etc. - St. John the Baptist, fire, magic powers, elements of mystical which permeated everything - Journey through occupation (done in one small field)* - What symbols can we see? o Issues of resistance- cats represent bourgeoisie- way of resistance o Issue of dehumanization- two print shop works fed cat food while cats eat at their table- cats sleep on bed while they sleep outside o Point of cat = something mysterious about the cat which fascinated them – personified the cat o Issue of classification Levi-Strauss- cat makes sense in cultural area – ambiguous position – pulls on lots of things – sexuality? Deviance? – cat = devil all because of specific cultural lens they had o Cat personified sex – become invisible if eat cat brain – separated from their cultural framework and cognitive schema or way of thinking o Cat was mistress’ prize animal – harming cat was harming ―household‖ o Pull on cultural tools to make fun of situation but could not get caught b/c a lot to lose o Sexual attack o Theatre and mimicker – Goffman- worlds a show – use cultural elements to put on that show – but really is it a mimicking? – it is actually trying to show real circumstances o Re-enacting ceremonies very familiar using signs and symbols of their time- our cultural schema has changed - Trial of the house- today would have different way of remedying situation… - Why joke worked well- able to pull off elaborate show Swidler - Compared to cultural capital Bourdieu’s seems something out of your control, little choice - Swidler looks at it in a different way – she felt there was a misunderstanding- previous too much emphasis on values in previous culture/action association – Geertz thick description - She defines culture as symbolic meanings, rituals, symbols - Tool kit- can choose things full of rituals, symbols etc. Routine persistent ways of ordering action through time- assuming culture’s causal existence Strategies of action – goal, everyone has different ways on how to reach- culture shapes your pathway Ideas engine of action but Swidler goes against this! Swidler argues (1) culture of poverty – why would they want to continue this? They want to get out so she asks if they have different values? If they value same things, which they do, you could no longer say value was same issue. (2) Problem was explained by structural circumstances how does that relate to class and culture Poverty- unfamiliar with how to attain success – pursue a line of action that they are equipped to as they lack tools that could take us there Talks about – culture shock – tools not there do not work – cultural explanation – culture works by influencing capacities to strategies of action Episteme- box you can gather from – but have a choice via repetition (habits, world views- not built on scraps) What can culture explain? - When people fail to adapt in face of structural change - Can it play an independent role – everything can be explained better by looking at the world in 2 different fields= settled and unsettled lives – all different issues between different times- more stratification rather than absolute- so you get settled = new strategies of action to solve problems—continued action – value oriented with action – cultural and structural circumstances enforce - Culture constructs new roles and opportunities and competition of new theories with unsettled cultures - Ideologies play powerful role (thinking of Asian’s as smart) Questions - Contemporary examples of comedy – to give insight into our culture o Ex. Political satire was acceptable in our society - Example of something in your tool kit LECTURE Ex. – Carrington an example of cultural analysis- conversation of different theories or approaches that we have already seen Darnton - Historian Swidler - Really changed the way people understood culture especially in Canada and the U.S. - Reference to DiMaggio – connection that there is a more heterogeneous view of culture not consisting of one thing – not shared by all - DiMaggio says culture is bits of things and pieces that give meaning for people to constitute culture - Published in American Sociological Review – nd - 2 most highly cited article in history of sociological review - Swidler wrote this article because she found that the way people understood culture was problematic – something highly socialized and unified set of norms in which people socialized which guide action - Swidler showed how problematic the ―socialization unified‖ view of culture is problematic 1. Criticism of Weber- Culture explained by structure- Protestant Ethic – Capitalism yet no Protestantism in Japan-
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