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Cultural Network Theory

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  1. Cultural Network Theory Robert N. St. Clair University of Louisville

  2. The Stratification of Culture • Each generation differs from others by being socialized in a slightly different way. Each generation has its own heroes and villains. It has its own visual icons and music idols.

  3. Foucault and the Lamination of Culture • These generations form what Foucault (1969) has called the l’archeologie du savoir (archeology of knowledge). • Each layer of culture differs from those of the previous generation. • There is no monolithic concept of culture, but more of a lamination of cultural expressions separated by separate generations and their practices. • Foucault compared this to geological strata.

  4. Popular and traditional Culture • One of the problems in the field of intercultural communication has been the relationship between popular culture and traditional culture. • Popular cultures are the most recent forms of mass culture. • There are scholars who make a distinction between high culture and low culture. • This distinction is unnecessary in a laminated theory of culture. A more significant distinction would be between popular culture and profound (deep) culture.

  5. The Mediation of Culture • A popular culture is mass mediated. • Profound culture represents the specialization of knowledge and social practices through advanced training. Academic knowledge and apprenticeship training are constituents within this category of culture.

  6. Old Popular Cultures never die; they just fade away.

  7. The Distribution of Popular Culture • The 1950s Beginning of the Baby Boom Generation

  8. The Baby Boomers • The 1950s

  9. THE BUSINESS OF CULTURE • Big business has been the driving force behind American culture for the last century

  10. Cultures of Theoria and Praxis • Bourdieu did not see the conflict of theoria and praxis in Marxian terms as class differences. He saw it as a struggle within deep culture in which those at the top of the hierarchy are invested with cultural capital and those at the bottom are controlled by a dominant ideology and a system of values that are imposed on those who do not possess cultural capital. • Those who create theory have an abstract logic that is different from the practical logic of those who live in the social world. • Those who have social capital are the producers of their own destiny and that the other participants in that discipline are comparable to their followers. • The producers of the consumer society have produced symbols of economic taste as social capital. It serves their economic interests. • They created a culture of conspicuous consumption in order to expand their market base.

  11. The Two Cultures of Modernity • How are popular cultures and deep cultures connected to each other in a theory of culture? • The problem is that they are treated as separate kinds of culture (Bourdieu’s Theoria and Praxis). • However, they are not independent of each other. The power elite of the business world who own the instruments of cultural mediation how used popular culture as an instrument to foster the creation of a consumer society. • This is the concern that Bourdieu discussed under his concepts of Field and Habitus

  12. Bourdieu on Field and Habitus • Pierre Bourdieu also discussed popular culture and deep culture in terms of Field and Habitus. • Field has to do with the social hegemony associated with deep culture. • Bourdieu argues that what people do constitutes practical knowledge. Scientists do not talk theory; they practice it. However, the theory that the talk about is not the same one that they are practicing. Hence, he turned his attention to practical knowledge or the theory of practice. • Scientists are observers and they develop a theory of what participants in society are doing in the sociology of everyday life. They claim to have practical knowledge of the social world of practical action. They do not. They operate from a theoretical logic which differs from the logic of the participants in the social world. • Bourdieu wants theory to emerge from Habitus (Practical Knowledge). One must not develop theory as an entity that is separate from practice.

  13. Cultural Fields and Cultural Capital • There are two kinds of culture. One is theoretical and abstract (deep culture) and the other is based on social experience (popular culture). • The problem is that popular culture is a business. It is a business model developed to enhance commercial gain. • The discussion of popular culture occurs within communication theory; it is part of a Field. • The practice of popular culture occurs within the sociology of everyday life: it is part of a Habitus. • How does one make this theory more reflexive? How can both kinds of cultures be studied and combined into an integrated theory of culture?

  14. Classical Music as theoretical logic


  16. Reflexivity: Metacognition of Practice • Metacognition is thinking about thinking. It is a form of reflexivity. • Bourdieu argues in favor of the metacognition of practice. This is necessary because theorists use a different kind of logic from those who are participants in the sociology of everyday life. • Theoria produces structures that are abstract. Scientists do not work through Habitus; they work within a Field and they are interested in creating boundaries between Fields. • Praxis produces structures that are concrete. One is born with habitus. It is acquired through repetition. Habitus is a learned experience that is shared with a group.

  17. Social and Cultural Networks • Society is studied from a network perspective. This means that it studies individuals who are embedded in a network of relations. It seeks explanations for social behavior based on the structure of these networks rather than in the individuals alone. Manuel Castells refers to this as the network society. • Social network analysis (SNA) has a long history in the social sciences. It is part of small group theory, sociogram analysis, and the social web. • It is used in computer science, transportation systems, neurological analysis, finite mathematics, and organizational communication.

  18. Graph Theory • The study of graphs is made up of vertices (or nodes) and lines (or edges) that connect them. Graphs are one of the prime objects of study in the field of discrete mathematics. • G=(V(g), E(G)) • Where • V (G) = {v1. V2. v3 … vN} and • E (G) = {e1. e2. e3 …e8}. • The set of edges is: • E = {{v1,v4}, {v1,v2}, {v4,v5}, {v2.v3}, {v3,v5}, • {v5,v6}, {v8,v7},{v7,v9}, {v3,v6}. • The set of vertices is: V={v1,v2,v3,v4,v5,v6,v7,v8}.

  19. Graphs may demonstrate certain common patterns:

  20. We can display graphs as a NxN matrix The matrix shows that there is one tie between node A, B, and E and none between C and D. Node B occupies a central position in this network and nodes A,B,E form a tightly formed clique in which every node is connected to every other node. The same can be said of nodes B, C, and E. Furthermore, node B forms a bridge between these two cliques.

  21. The Commercialization of Popular Culture • The typical cultural icon is controlled by an agent

  22. Some artists are sponsored by wealth • Pollock had his benefactor

  23. Some artists became entrepreneurs • Andy Warhol became his own agent and sponsor

  24. Network Analysis of Culture

  25. How do Popular Cultures change? • Popular cultures never die; they just fade away. • Popular cultures create ego networks that are administered by agents. They increase the size of the network. • Over time, the practice of popular culture subsides. This is because markets shift, audiences disappear, and new trends take over the public domain. • Networks may diminish greatly or they may be enriched. Some cultural phenomenon may be rediscovered and renewed. Others may remain in oblivion. One thing remains constant: cultures change.

  26. Cultural Change • In order to explain cultural change, one needs to discuss the relationship of the present to the past. • The present is embedded in the past. One understands the present through an understanding of the past. • Since on lives in the present, one also reinterprets the past to fit into the context of the • present. • This interface is called the • co-present. • The reinterpretation of the past is called the new-past.

  27. Concluding Remarks • Culture is not an object. It is a network of relationships that evolves. Each generation is re-socialized. They are born into a culture. They do not adhere to all that has been given to them. The modify the social practices around them and create new ones in the process. • Each cultural generation has its own cultural torus in which cultural practices are regenerated from the perspective of its own popular culture milieu. From a two dimensional perspective, each culture has its own strata. From a three dimensional perspective, each culture has its own toroidal geometry.

  28. The Regenerating Power of a Torus • The energy begins in the center and it is regenerated and recycled into a self-generating pattern. • Other generations of culture interact with this toroidal form but they do not alter its central force. Instead, they are incorporated into layers of different later generations that accompany this central torus.

  29. The Ring Torus and Modules • The torus represents modular cycles. If one were to represent a clock in mathematical terms, it would be a ring torus. The hour hand makes a repeating cycle from zero to twelve and this repetition can be seen as a cylinder.

  30. Representing Modules in 2D • The second hand also rotates clockwise and it can also be represented as a rotating cylinder. When this information is portrayed in a two dimensional graph, it can be displayed as a Cartesian graph.

  31. Modules as Tori • However, when represents the movement of the clock in three dimensional terms, it turns out to be a ring torus. One end of the rotating cylinder folds into the other end of the cylinder to form a ring torus.

  32. Toroidal changes within a culture • When the environment outside of a torus changes, it impacts on the nature of its central core and that center will eventually move or be modified. The cultural past represents the center. The cultural present represents this environmental changes. In other words, the surrounding environments changes the toroidal intensity.

  33. Cultures of Modernity • Due to the process of modernization, cultural knowledge is instantaneously transmitted across nations states and this means that they are linked together by means of a larger network, the culture of modernity. • Will these regional cultures be changed over time into a global monoculture? • The new generation is born into this culture of modernity. Will they retain any of the cultural past? Will the culture of modernity become their new culture? • The deterrent to a monoculture is the resistance by local popular cultures. It has a life of its own.

  34. References • Bourdieu, Pierre. (1977). Outline of a Theory of Practice. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. • Bourdieu, Pierre. (1984). The Logic of Practice. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. • Bourdieu, Pierre and LoïcWacquant. (1992). An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. • Burt, R. S. (1992). Structural Holes: The Social Structure of Competition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. • Chartrand, Gary. (197). Introductory Graph Theory. New York: Dover Publications, Inc. • Ewen, Stuart. (1977). Captains of Consciousness: Advertising and the Social Roots of the Consumer Culture. NY: McGraw-Hill. • Foucault, Michel. (1969). The Archaeology of Knowledge. London and New York: Routledge. • Granovetter, M. (1973). "The strength of weak ties." American Journal of Sociology 81, pages 1287-1303. • Ishii, Hiroku and St. Clair, Robert N. (1966). Understanding the Business of Advertising. • Indiana: Social Systems Press. • Kadushin, Charles. (2012). Understanding Social Networks: Theories, Concepts, and Findings. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. • Prell, Christina. (2012). Social Network Analysis: History, Theory & Methodology. Los Angeles, CA: Sage. • St. Clair, Robert N. (2006). Language and the Sociology of Knowledge. Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen • Press, 2006. • St. Clair, Robert N. and Song, Wei. (2009). The Many Layers of Culture within Each City: A Theory of Cultural Geography. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press.