Download Against Essentialism: A Theory of Culture and Society by Stephan Fuchs PDF

By Stephan Fuchs

I have had Stephan Fuchs for 2 sessions on the college of Virginia. not just is he a good professor, but in addition an outstanding author. opposed to Essentialism offers his perspectives on cultural structures in as transparent a fashion as is feasible given the complexity of the topic. this can be a booklet that are supposed to be required examining for sociology classes, yet is perhaps a bit deep if you happen to have by no means taken a social thought path.

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Extra info for Against Essentialism: A Theory of Culture and Society

Sample text

But the pain remains one’s own. It is possible to communicate about one’s pain, but not the pain itself. Communication about pain is not itself physically painful. Communication travels along its own networks, so that only those to whom one is linked can possibly observe one’s communicated pain, even though they still cannot feel it. Pain reaches a larger audience only through organizations and their own extended networks. The pain is then no longer a physical sensation, but a communication phrased according to the operations of social structures.

There cannot be any truth in the false life (Adorno 1951:42), however, so the resistance of critical theorists is admittedly and outspokenly rendered futile and tragic. In the critical theory of Habermas ([1984] 1987:chap. 4), false consciousness results from the distortions that communication suffers when it is invaded by the systemic imperatives of power, money, and instrumental reason. True consciousness escapes to the fragile and quasitranscendental islands of ideal speech, where discourse responds only to the noncoercive force of the superior argument.

The information obtained by observing according to a distinction is selective, not complete and exhaustive. No network of observation reveals the world as such, or all of it, since a network occurs within this world and its times. If no distinctions are drawn, there is no information; if different distinctions matter, they yield different information. Except for highly stratified societies, where all “privileged” information is concentrated at the top, there are different social observers, located in different positions in a social structure.

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