Pazar, Şubat 13, 2011

theory of social practices

one can distinguish between four forms of cultural theories: culturalist mentalism, textualism, intersubjectivism and practice theory. on a very basic level, these schools of thought offer opposing locations of the social and conceptualize the 'smallest unit' of social theory differently: in minds, discourses, interactions and 'practices'.

one branch of cultural theories locates the social or collective in human mind. mind is the place of the social because mind is the place of knowledge and meaning structures - this is the basic idea of culturalist mentalism. culturalist mentalism is based upon -to quote theodore schatzki - 'the idea that mind is a substance, place, or realm that houses a particular range of activities and attributes' (1996).

for culturalist textualism, symbolic structures are not situated 'inside' the mind. instead they have their place 'outside' -in chains of signs, in symbols, discourse, communication (in a specific sense) or 'texts'.

intersubjectivism locates the social in interactions -the paradigmatic case is the use of ordinary language. sociality can be nowhere other than in a constellation of symbolic interactions between agents.

practice theory does not place the social in mental qualities, nor in discourse, nor in interaction. It places the social in 'practices'. a practice is a routinized type of behavior which consists of several elements, interconnected to one other: forms of bodily activities, forms of mental activities, 'things' and their use, a background knowledge in the form of understanding, know-how, states of emotion and motivational knowledge. a practice is a routinized way in which bodies are moved, objects are handled, subjects are treated, things are described and the world is understood. a practice is social, as it is a 'type' of behaving and understanding that appears at different locales and at different points of time and is carried out by different bodies/minds.

andreas reckwitz, toward a theory of social practices.

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