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Social Performance
Symbolic Action, Cultural Pragmatics, and Ritual

$49.99 (P)

Part of Cambridge Cultural Social Studies

Jeffrey C. Alexander, Jason L. Mast, Isaac Reed, Tanya Goodman, Ron Eyerman, David E. Apter, Valentin Rauer, Bernhard Giesen
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  • Date Published: May 2006
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521674621

$ 49.99 (P)

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About the Authors
  • Taking a "cultural pragmatic" approach to meaning, the contributors suggest a new way of looking at the continuum that stretches between ritual and strategic action. They do so by developing, for the first time, a model of "social performance". This volume offers the first systematic and analytical framework that transforms the metaphor into a social theory and applies it to a series of facinating large-scale social and cultural processes--from September 11 and the Clinton/Lewinsky Affair, to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Willy Brandt's famous "kneefall" before the Warsaw momument.

    • Professor Alexander is one of the leading cultural sociologists in the US
    • The first attempt to bring performative studies into the center of sociology. This volume offers the first, systematic performance based analytical framework
    • Makes a path-breaking contribution to social theory and cultural sociology - the first attempt to synthesize sociological and performance studies theories with conceptual frameworks
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "Truely a groundbreaking work, and is absolutely essential reading for anyone interested in the understanding of modern social and political action."
    Marvin Carlson, TDR:The Drama Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2006
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521674621
    • length: 392 pages
    • dimensions: 227 x 151 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.62kg
    • contains: 10 b/w illus. 2 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: symbolic action in theory and practice: the cultural pragmatics of symbolic action Jeffrey C. Alexander and Jason L. Mast
    1. Cultural pragmatics: social performance between ritual and strategy Jeffrey C. Alexander
    2. From the depths of despair: performance, counterperformance, and 'September 11' Jeffrey C. Alexander
    3. The cultural pragmatics of event-ness: the Clinton/Lewinsky affair Jason L. Mast
    4. Social dramas, shipwrecks and cockfights: conflict and complicity in social performance Isaac Reed
    5. Performing a 'new' nation: the role of the TRC in South Africa Tanya Goodman
    6. Performing opposition or, how social movements move Ron Eyerman
    7. Politics as theater: an alternative view of the rationalities of power David E. Apter
    8. Symbols in action: Willy Brandt's kneefall at the Warsaw monument Valentin Rauer
    9. The promise of performance and the problem of order Kay Junge
    10. Performance art Bernhard Giesen
    11. Performing the sacred: a Durkheimian perspective on the performance turn in the social sciences Bernhard Giesen.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Anthropology of Religion
    • Contemporary ethnographies in langauge and society
    • Ritual and Performance in Religion
    • Theory /Gender
  • Editors

    Jeffrey C. Alexander, Yale University, Connecticut
    Jeffrey C. Alexander is the Lillian Chavenson Saden Professor of Sociology and also Chair of the Sociology Department at Yale University. He is the author of The Meanings of Social Life: A Cultural Sociology (2003), Cultural Trauma and Collective Identity (with Eyerman, Giesen, Smelser, and Sztompka (2004), and the editor (with Philip Smith) of The Cambridge Companion to Durkheim (2005).

    Bernhard Giesen, Universität Konstanz, Germany
    Bernhard Giesen holds the chair for macro-sociology in the Department of History and Sociology at the University of Konstanz (Germany) and is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at Yale University. Among the more than twenty books he has written and edited are The Intellectuals and the Nation: Collective Identity in a German Axial Age (Cambridge 1998) and Triumph and Trauma (2004).

    Jason L. Mast, University of Warwick
    Jason L. Mast is a Doctoral Candidate in Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a Visiting Fellow at Yale University's Department of Sociology and its Center for Cultural Sociology.


    Jeffrey C. Alexander, Jason L. Mast, Isaac Reed, Tanya Goodman, Ron Eyerman, David E. Apter, Valentin Rauer, Bernhard Giesen

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