MCR603 Cultural Theory
Professor: Christos MERANTZAS
The course aims to contribute to the understanding of the impact of culture upon social life, to the substantial control and understanding of reality, to the approach also of issues related to the cultural construction of self and identity, and to the role of culture in maintaining and reproducing systems of inequality or enabling forms of solidarity, of social conflict and power structures, of the role of ideology and faith in the constitution of cultural processes. Indicatively are analyzed the following: 1. The social theories of Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber and George Simmel, 2. The sociological theory of Talcott Parsons, 3. The thinkers of the Frankfurt School with emphasis on the work of Walter Benjamin and Louis Althusser’s theory of social relations, 4. The micro theory of symbolic interactionism of Erving Goffman, 5. The symbolic value of cultural practices, as discussed in the work of Marcel Mauss, 6. The formation of the symbolic meaning of the threshold as discussed by Mary Douglas, 7. The structuralist movement with special emphasis on the work of Claude Lévi-Strauss, and Marshall Sahlins, 8. The Michel Foucault’s post-structuralism with emphasis on forms of normalization of the body through a variety of control practices, 9. The function of practices as reproduction of social relations and the significance of the “habitus” in Pierre’s Bourdieu social theory, 10. The correlation of individual and social actions as set up in Anthony Giddens’ work, 11. The practices of self-restraint and of bodily functions as treated by the sociologist Norbert Elias, 12. The analysis on class and ideology of the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, 13. Finally, the formation of culture as a complex network of relations in connection with Clifford Geertz’s “thick description”.