Jeffrey Alexander- Cultural pragmatics

Alexander, J.C. (2004). Cultural pragmatics: Social performance between ritual and strategy. Sociological theory, 22(4), 527-573.

Rituals are repeated cultural communications.

529- I will develop a systematic, macro-sociological model of social action as cultural performance. In so doing, I will enter not only into the historical origins of theatrical performance and dramaturgical theory (e.g., Turner 2002; Schechner 2002; Auslander 1997; Carlson 1996; Geertz 1980; Goffman 1974; Burke 1965; Austin 1957) but also into the history and theories of social performance.’ This means looking at how, and why, symbolic action moved from ritual to theater (Turner 1982) and why it so often moves back to “ritual-like” processes again (Schechner 1976).

 The more simple the collective organization, the less its social and cultural parts are segmented and differentiated, the more the elements of social performances are fused. The more complex, segmented, and differentiated the collectivity, the more these elements of social performance become de-fused. To be effective in a society of increasing complexity, social performances must engage in a project of re-fusion.

532- Power establishes an external boundary for cultural pragmatics that paral the internal boundary established by a performance’s background re

538- This emphasis on ideology is telling, and it leads directly to the argument about changes in conditions for performativity that I am making here. Earlier…investigation inot the social cause of the transitiion from simple forms of social organization emphasized the determingin role of economic change.

The most striking social innovation that crystallized such a cultural shift to ideology was the emergence of written texts. According to Goody (1986:12), the emergence of text-based culture allowed and demanded “the decontextualization or generalization” of collective representations, which in oral societies were intertwined more tightly with local social structures and meanings.

These structural and ideological processes suggest a decisive shift in actors’ relation to the means of symbolic production.

543- Ritual moved toward theater throughout the world’s civilizations in response to similiar social and cultural developemtns-the emergence of cities and states, of religious specialists, of intellectuals, and of needs for political legitimation.

548- Performances in complex societies seek to overcome fragmentation by creating flow and achieving authenticity. They try to recover a momentary experience of ritual, to eliminate or to negate the effects of social and cultural de-fusion.

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556- It is here that social power enters into performance in particular ways. Certainly, censorship and intimidation have always been employed to prevent the production and distribution of symbolic communication and, thus, to prevent or control political dissent.

558- Actors aren’t always up to the challenge of perform roles effectively.

562- socio-cultural de-fusion has shifted focus of theaterical acting and thus requirements for acting for changed for social drama.

Audiences matter but come with their own baggage (562-563)

565- Asa udiences become more involved, performance can draw them out of demographic and subcultural niches into a more widely shared and possibly more universalistic liminal space.

What is being fused??



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