The 'New American Cultural Sociology': An Appraisal

  • McLennan G
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Abstract

This article critically examines the structure and content of the 'New American Cultural Sociology', through an engagement with the recent writings of its main representative, Jeffrey Alexander. Alexander's project to retool sociology and cultural studies alike is coherent and ambitious, and his transition from theory scholar to public intellectual makes an assessment of that project additionally necessary. I argue, however, that while it gives a necessary jolt to conventional thinking around culture and meaning, major weaknesses and problems can be identified in each of the three main levels of analysis: the articulation of the theoretical programme of cultural sociology, its application in substantive cultural exploration, and its emerging political ideology of civil society multiculturalism. Overall, the key theme of the critique is that Alexander's long-standing concern, and talent, for `multidimensional' social theory is heavily compromised by his equally strong inclination towards excessive culturalism and idealism. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

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Authors

  • G. McLennan

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