Chapter

The Return of Culture?

Christian Smith

in Moral, Believing Animals

Published in print July 2003 | ISBN: 9780195162028
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849673 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195162028.003.0006
The Return of Culture?

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This chapter analyses a shift in contemporary American sociology to the study of culture and cultural analysis. This shift or return of culture in sociology represents something of an intellectual pendulum swing. Talcott Parsons's structural functionalism dominated the middle decades of the 20th century. It taught that human societies are regulated and coordinated from the top down by their cultural systems and that, from the bottom up, individual actors are oriented and guided by cultural values that they internalize through socialization. In the mid-1960s and 1970s, however, Parsons's structural functionalism was attacked and displaced as the dominant framework in the discipline. Various developments within and outside of sociology had helped prepare the intellectual ground for new and creative sociological scholarship that began to employ culture in ways more sophisticated than structural functionalism.

Keywords: contemporary American sociology; Talcott Parsons; structural functionalism; cultural analysis

Chapter.  7851 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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