The strange fate of ‘culture’

Meaning in Action is a thought provoking book by Rein Raud, motivated by the strange fate which has befallen ‘culture’. At precisely the time when “the concept of culture, sloppily defined or not at all, is occupying an increasingly central place in social and political debate” the study of the concept has become ever narrower, such that “it has almost become improper to theorise about culture in broader terms” (1). In its place he argues for an approach to culture that “is able to account for all phenomena related to the production, dissemination, transmission and interpretation of meaning” (6). Culture in this sense is the “total of our efforts to make sense of our world” from the smallest to the largest scale, from the individual through to whole societies; it must be studied from parallel perspectives of textuality and practice, paralleling the distinction Margaret Archer makes between the cultural system and socio-cultural interaction. It is a compelling framing and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of this book which I happened to pick up at random.

One thought on “The strange fate of ‘culture’”

  1. I have been increasingly thinking of something akin to ‘Semantic Capital’ especially related to Contemporary Visual Arts where the endless interpretability of an object of art determines its status across the global art markets’ different venues, systems and cultures. This book might be helpful. Bookmarked the Kobe preview. Will read.

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