By David Harris
An advent to present debates round the subject matters of tradition, identification and way of life. Such debates usually commence with the statement that we are living in a "society of signs". positive factors comprise: precis and significant dialogue of a few uncomplicated techniques in social thought and cultural research; key readings of a few of the paintings of writers together with Barthes and Giddens; stories of labor in additional conventional parts, for instance, the sociology of id and the embedding technique present in social existence; and suggestion on extra studying.
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We cannot pursue the details here, but a sketch is offered in passing of some aspects of some of the betterknown synthetic moments in social theory—such as Lacan’s ‘linguistic’ re-reading and incorporation of Freud, or Baudrillard’s of Marx (both in Chapter 5). ) 1989). Habermas’s own exhaustively synthetic project is well described in McCarthy (1984), among other commentaries, and some implications appear in the Conclusion. I want to end this chapter with a sketch of one approach which will be well known to sociology students—the ‘structuration theory’ of Anthony Giddens.
What approaches are available to develop this common experience? The usual main alternative to functionalist or ‘structuralist’ accounts consists of a (rather constructed) interactionism, usually based on the work of the American symbolic interactionists like Mead or Blumer, with Goffman or Hughes or Strauss as later advocates. Sometimes, in Britain, Weber is bundled up with these writers as a theorist of action, although, as Collins (1994) argues, there was in fact little real influence from Weber.
Gramscian work went through a number of evolutions (Harris 1992) but used the same basic ideas to try to grasp the ways in which the spectacular Conservative political interlude in Britain throughout the 1980s managed to gain popular support, or to argue for new socialist ‘articulations’ to respond to the social changes introduced by new technologies. There are a number of implications here. Culture now has a certain kind of partial autonomy (which we shall explore in the 19 SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES AND MODERN LIFE next chapter), and certain cultural specialists appear to have an important place as articulators.