Race and Civil Repair (3)

Jeffrey C. Alexander

in The Civil Sphere

Published in print August 2006 | ISBN: 9780195162509
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199943364 | DOI:
Race and Civil Repair (3)

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This chapter explores more deeply the symbolic extension of interracial solidarity at the heart of the Civil Rights movement, investigating how its tensely wrought dramas triggered a sense of moral violation among members of the surrounding civil sphere that led them to initiate forceful symbolic action for civic repair. It shows how this compensatory symbolic action triggered unprecedented changes in the civil sphere's regulatory institutions, creating overlapping waves of institutional and symbolic activity. However, even as we emphasize the neglected role of symbolic action and communicative institutions, placing them at the center of efforts to change the structure of civil society, we cannot forget the structures of a more coercive kind. To assert the significance of civil power is not to deny political and social forces; it is rather to place them into perspective. When social systems contain civil spheres, the sources and effects of power must be conceived in new ways. Power must be redefined.

Keywords: interracial solidarity; Civil Rights movement; moral violation; civil sphere; civic repair

Chapter.  16391 words. 

Subjects: Sociology

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