Making culture, changing society: the perspective of 'culture studies'

Bennett, Tony (2007). Making culture, changing society: the perspective of 'culture studies'. Cultural Studies, 21(4-5) pp. 610–629.



Drawing on the perspectives of science studies and actor-network-theory, this paper develops the perspective of ‘culture studies’ to offer an account of the ways in which culture, understood as a specific form of public organisation, is produced and sustained through the assemblage of materially heterogeneous elements. This is related to an account of the ways in which culture acts on the social through the distinctive ‘working surfaces on the social’ that it organises. The distinctiveness of the perspective of ‘culture studies’ is highlighted by comparing it with more familiar traditions of analysis within cultural studies and cultural sociology. Francis Mulhern’s account of cultural studies’ relations to the practice of Kulturkritik associated with the formation of Bildung and the programme Jeffrey Alexander proposes for the development of cultural sociology are paid particular attention in this regard. The paper concludes with a consideration of the forms of analytical attention that are needed to investigate the ways in which cultural and social science disciplines interact in the production of ‘working surfaces on the social’ through which their modes of action on the social are coordinated.

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