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What does 'Culture' Mean in French? A Theoretical Mapping and Fractal Analysis of the Sociology of Culture in France.

Abstract : This article charts the development of the sociology of culture in France. First, it examines the hypothesis of a French model, putting into perspective the correlation between cultural policies and dedicated sociological inquiries at the end of the 1950s. 'Culture' is one of the oldest fields of research in France, and current research still derives from the same anthropological matrix. Yet French sociologists present themselves as part of a divided and competitive academic domain. This article, based on an encompassing review of the literature as well as on in-depth interviews, accordingly distinguishes eight different 'schools'-organized around pre-eminent academics, concept producers and resource providers-as well as circles of collaboration. Whilst these circles organize their theoretical activity around emblems (with the word 'culture' referring to different conceptual sets) the social relations in their midst are organized around dyads, which usually transition from positive collaboration to rivalry. The article highlights the importance of these divisions as a fractal process and as boundary work for scientific production. From this perspective, the sociology of culture in France could be described as a large and extensive system of concepts and collaborations developed within small groups, within and between which, as with all 'cultural' matters, symbolic activity is the key basis for social status.
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Submitted on : Monday, March 18, 2019 - 2:07:00 PM
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Olivier Alexandre. What does 'Culture' Mean in French? A Theoretical Mapping and Fractal Analysis of the Sociology of Culture in France.. Cultural Sociology, SAGE Publications (UK and US), 2018, 12 (4), pp.433 - 455. ⟨10.1177/1749975518801656⟩. ⟨halshs-01982760⟩

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