Against Essentialism: A Theory of Culture and Society by Stephan Fuchs

By Stephan Fuchs

I have had Stephan Fuchs for 2 sessions on the college of Virginia. not just is he a superb professor, but additionally an exceptional author. opposed to Essentialism provides his perspectives on cultural platforms in as transparent a fashion as is feasible given the complexity of the topic. this can be a publication that are supposed to be required analyzing for sociology classes, yet is maybe a bit deep if you have by no means taken a social concept path.

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This happens when something “goes wrong” at the first level, such as competition, conflict, and disagreement. Controversies are naturally occurring “autogarfinkels” (Collins 1983:95), because they upset and question first-level certainties. When this happens, observations may turn away from their referents to observe themselves. Mannheim ([1928] 1971:260) correlated the birth of sociology of knowledge with democracy, conflict, and competition. A “sociology of knowledge” is a plain impossibility when there is only one language game in town.

Observers and niches coemerge and -disappear. When an observer, say a species, dies, so does its niche and its relations to the world. As one changes, the other changes as well, since an observer is also part of the niche. An observer in the niche cannot see the “niche as such,” only some things in it. Observing is contingent and selective—a choice from other options and alternative distinctions. Theor y after Essentialism • 19 The niche is where the distinctions and observations of an observer matter and make a difference.

An important attribution is to persons and their intentions, decisions, and actions. All forms of observation, including science, have their own common sense and natural attitude: that which they consider familiar, in no need of proof, and to be expected from any competent member of the craft. The first level of observation is that which is taken for granted in observing, and that which is “naively” attributed to the world, not the observer. Accordingly, that which some science’s common sense takes for granted might be problematic and counterintuitive in other cultures and other sciences, and vice versa.

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