Presentation on theme: "Identity, Subjectivity and the Meaning and Practices of Everyday Life"— Presentation transcript:
1 Identity, Subjectivity and the Meaning and Practices of Everyday Life The Cultural TurnIdentity, Subjectivity and the Meaning and Practices of Everyday Life
2 The Concept of Culture A problematic concept Integral to study of identitycultural situatedness, cultural pursuits and practices shape our sense of selfCulture shapes attachment to identityCulture has material effects
3 the study of culture in the social sciences From social anthropology to present daycultures and subcultures, leisure activities and shopping, football hooliganism, the political culture of groups and organisations - just a few of the areas that the intellectual tradition that has become known as cultural studies have become interested in
4 So what is cultural studies? Exciting field of studyInterested in micro level analysisspans the arts, the humanities, geography even science and technology
5 Definitions of Culture hotly contested conceptrules and conventions that govern social behaviourmaterial artefacts that societies utilise and produce when they are going about the business of daily lifean abstraction that exists only in the mind
6 EP Thompson on CultureEP Thompson ‘Culture is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, customs and other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society (Thompson 1871).A broad definitionhighlights the notion that culture is something that is learned and something that is shared.
7 Raymond Williams on Culture Founding father of cultural studies‘culture includes the organisation of production, the structure of the family the structure of institutions which express or govern social relationships, the characteristic forms through which members of society communicate’
8 Karl Marx on Cultureseparate but interlinked relationship between culture and the economyeconomic base determines the cultural superstructurecapitalist societies have a very different culture to communist or feudal societies.
9 Clifford Geertz on Culture noted the role of personal and group story telling or narrative in culture‘culture is simply the ensemble of stories we tell about ourselves’
10 Cultural studiescultural studies does not have a clearly defined set of interests or objects of studylacks its own distinct set of theories or methodologyborrows heavily from a range of disciplines such as sociology, anthroplogy, socio-linguistics, literary criticism, art theory, political science, psychology
11 Sarder and Van Loon (1998) five main characteristics. examines its subject matter in terms of cultural practices and their relation to powerStudies culture in contexttwo functions: it is both the object of study and a site of political critique and political actionattempts to reveal and to reconcile the division of knowledgecommitted to a moral evaluation of modern societies and a radical political response
12 The Concept of the Sign in Cultural Studies key concept in cultural studies is that of the signcomes from the structural liguinstics of Ferdinand de Saussure and semioticssymbolic aspects of language, image and text
13 3 Basic Features of the Sign The sign has a concrete formit refers to something other than itself, in other words the sign always has some other referentIt is commonly recognised by most people within the cultural context that it comes from, to signify the same thing.
14 Elements in the Process of Signification Sign- the mental image or concept.Signifier- the object or wordSignified- the symbolic thing or mental association that the sign refers to
15 Saussure on Language language generates meaning in a special way Language produces meaning because it is part of a system of relationships of similarity and difference.we understand the linguistic sign ‘dog’ because it conjures up a mental image of dogness. It is not man, it is not cow, it is not cauliflower
16 Language and Shared Meaning Language works because we have a shared set of concepts and common understandingsThe principles which geovern language also organise other symbolic forms of communicationSome objects, although apparently similar have very different symbolic values and we understand their symbolic value because they are part of a system of rich symbols
17 The Meaning of Objects Similar objects can have different meaning Context and use alter meaningSame article of clothing-jeans- different significationsmeaning of signs is not fixed it can change over time
18 The Meaning of Burberry Shift in meaning over time.Once signified wealth and statusNow symbolises ‘chavness’ or the underclass
19 Signification and Identity Use of body in significationTattoos, peircing, clothing, eatingSignifies who we are and how we want to be seenOthers who share our culture can read the bodyShared systems of referents
20 Problems with Signification Not a smooth unproblematic processFrequent misunderstandingsCross cultural differences in meaningObjects and practices can have many meaningsThey are polysemicOpportunities to ‘misread’But we still rely heavily on signification to make sense of the world
21 Why is it important to understand Signification? helps us to understand power relationships and social controlpart of the process of representationThrough representation abstract and ideological forms are given a concrete form.Representations prop up political systems, they are ideological.
22 Representing the Other non- western cultures represented as the ‘other’ of the WestThat which is not us,non-whites, women, homosexuals are seen as the ‘other’‘others’ are ascribed with negative identities
23 Meaning making and Representation All meaning making is to an extent subjectivemeanings change over timemeanings have been shaped by historycultural studies sphere of interest is about looking at how and why meanings change
24 Cultural theory and political critique cultural theory has provided some of the most vehement criticisms of slavery and colonialism, of class inequality, of racism and sexismoften been accused with being obsessed with the underdogsCultural studies has attempted to reveal how marginalised groups build their identities
25 A Critique of Cultural studies accused of obsessing about mostly white culturefounding fathers, EP Thompson , Richard Hoggart, Raymond Williams and Stuart Hall… all came from working class backgroundsAll helped set up BCCS
26 Cultural Studies and ‘Race’ Notions of Race and Ethnicity have become central in cultural studies‘Race’ a socially constructed categorynot a set of objective social categoriesno biologically significant diffrenecs between so-called racial groups.differences are ideologically constructed they have developed in the context of imperialismModernity has generated racism and social hatred as a justification for the subjugation and exploitation of non-white peoples
27 Ali Rattansi on Racein racist cultures ethnic identities are racialised.biological discourses around difference and superiority and inferiority are combined with cultural signifiers such as religion, clothing, food and eating practices to legitimate social exclusion, exploitation, inferiorisation and violence against the ‘other’.
28 Identity and the ‘Other’ ‘our’ culture as pure with ‘other’ culture being viewed as potentially pollutingThe ‘others’ identity is dangerous, dirty potentially contaminating.But- no such thing as a pure culture.All cultures hybridThe culture of the ‘other’ under threat from the westGlobalisation damages local culture
29 Final wordsidentities are something that are experienced most profoundly when they are under threatWhether that threat is subjective or objective is a matter for debate. Cultural studies is at the forefront of critiques of globalisationIsolationist identities such as various forms of political separatism and religious fundamentalism can be seen as a back lash against increasing cultural convergence and homogenisation.