SOC483Y1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 15: Erving Goffman, Cultural Capital, Culture Shock

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Published on 9 Nov 2012
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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‖
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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?
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Document Summary

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. 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: 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.

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