‘Many theories adopt the metaphors of capital to explore power (e.g. Bourdieu), others propose that capital has subsumed all areas of life. Beverley Skeggs will explore what the optic of the logic of capital reveals and obscures.
Beverley Skeggs is Head of the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths, London. She is soon to be an ESRC Professorial Fellow working on A Sociology of Value and Values.’
This is a fascinating exchange, recorded in Dublin a few months ago, between Jeffrey Alexander and Maeve Cooke on the relationship between, and their their perspectives and positions on, the ‘civil society’ (sociology) and the ‘good society’ (philosophy). It can be viewed as a conversation between their respective books on these topics – Cooke’s Re-Presenting The Good Society (2005) and Alexander’s The Civil Sphere (2006). I have read the former some years ago and found it excellent. I was particularly interested in the central deployment of imagination and affect in her arguments there. I have not yet read Alexander’s book, which is 800 pages long, but have plans to. The UCD blurb is below:
Professor Jeffrey Alexander (Department of Sociology, Yale University) and Professor Maeve Cooke (UCD School of Philosophy, University College Dublin) discuss: “Is Civil Society the Good Society?” at a special workshop in Dublin, Ireland (06 Sept 2013).
Professor Alexander, who is the Lillian Chavenson Saden Professor of Sociology at Yale University, was in Ireland to receive an honorary doctorate from University College Dublin in recognition of his “considerable contribution to sociology”.
“Jeffrey Alexander is one of the leading figures if not the intellectual voice of modern cultural sociology. His many books, most outstanding perhaps The Civil Sphere (Oxford University Press 2006), The Performance of Politics (Oxford University Press 2011) and his studies on cultural trauma such as Remembering the Holocaust (Oxford 2009), are milestones in the field”, said Dr Andreas Hess, UCD School of Sociology, who read the official citation at the conferring ceremony in University College Dublin.
“In contrast to other attempts such as the sociology of culture or cultural studies, the focus is not only on the arts, theatre, music, modern media and so forth but Alexander’s cultural sociology combines the aspirations of classic sociology of a Max Weber or Emile Durkheim with some of the new insights from linguistics, social anthropology, and the philosophy of language and applies these to a wide range of social phenomena.”
“In his opus magnum The Civil Sphere and in the follow-up study The Performance of Politics Alexander tries to apply cultural sociology to modern civil society and its politics. They are attempts to understand the complex relations and interactions between established institutions and the more flexible or elastic civil sphere in which public opinion is being formed and in which various conceptualisations of justice are discussed and begin to take shape. As Alexander shows convincingly in the case of Obama’s first presidential campaign, the civil sphere is also the place where the open democratic struggle for symbolic representation and meaning takes place − with outcomes that are not always predictable,” continued Dr Hess.
This new and exciting journal has issued a call for papers. First issue will be out in 2014.
Call for Papers
The European Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology
Official Journal of the European Sociological Association
The study of culture is the fastest growing area in both European and North American sociology. After years of mild neglect, political sociology is also re-establishing itself as a central plank of the discipline. The European Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology aims to be a forum not so much for these fields of study considered separately, as for any work that explores the relationship between culture and politics through a sound sociological lens. The journal takes an ecumenical view of ‘culture’: it welcomes articles that address the political setting, resonance or use of any of the arts (literature, art, music etc.), but it is also open to work that construes political phenomena in terms of a more philosophical or anthropological understanding of culture, where culture refers to the most general problem of meaning-formation. As for work that lies between these poles, it might address the relationship between politics and religion in all its forms, political symbolism past and present, styles of political leadership, political communication, the culture of political parties and movements, cultural policy, artists as political agents, and many other related areas. The journal is not committed to any particular methodological approach, nor will it restrict itself to European authors or material with a European focus. It will carry articles with an historical as well as a topical flavour. The journal aims to have a robust book reviews section, and while the language of reviews will be English, we wish to promote reviews of and review articles about significant new work written in other languages. The journal’s most general aim is to foster and perhaps rekindle the sort of intellectual sensibility that was once a staple of the sociological tradition.
Editor in Chief:
Charles Turner (University of Warwick; UK, D.C.S.Turner@warwick.ac.uk )
Ricca Edmondson (National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland; firstname.lastname@example.org)
Paul du Gay (University of Copenhagen, Denmark; email@example.com)
Eeva Luhtakallio (University of Helsinki, Finland; firstname.lastname@example.org)
Beatriz Padilla (University of Minho, Portugal; email@example.com)
Erle Rikmann (University of Tallinn, Estonia; firstname.lastname@example.org)
Zeynep Talay (email@example.com)