By David Harris
An advent to present debates round the issues of tradition, identification and way of life. Such debates frequently start with the statement that we are living in a "society of signs". good points comprise: precis and important dialogue of a few simple ways in social thought and cultural research; key readings of a few of the paintings of writers together with Barthes and Giddens; experiences of labor in additional conventional parts, for instance, the sociology of identification and the embedding procedure present in social lifestyles; and recommendation on additional studying.
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Extra resources for A Society of Signs?
These cultural possibilities—bricolage, parody and irony—are sometimes taken to be the characteristic forms of a ‘postmodern sensibility’ (Newman, in Appignanesi 1989, wants to add allegory and simulation). They certainly display very interesting ambiguities. On the one hand, they represent a form of cultural innovation that breaks down the barriers between separated spheres (especially high and low culture, as we shall see), and they do seem to display a fashionable disinterest in authorship (the author or director as odd-job man).
However, there may well be hidden constraints too, and we need more than a simple voluntarism or idealism to tease them out, as most of the analysts I review in this book would argue. The debate arises when we discuss the best way to do this. In this chapter, I shall be reviewing some ‘materialist’ or sociological work again, with a particular interest in the politics of cultural autonomy, before turning to later writers in subsequent chapters. CREATIVITY AND SOCIAL CONTEXTS This debate has already arisen when we were discussing the social or economic or political dimensions of culture in the last chapter, or when we raised the issue of subcultural resistance.
There is a deep dependency on mainstream cultures to provide the fragments or the lifestyles about which youth can become ironic, so to speak. This seems to restore some kind of sociological analysis again, of course—postmodern sensibility becomes a kind of cultural deviance, different from mainstream culture, but still explicable. Cultural events and phenomena can still be analysed usefully as representing some social, economic or political practices or forces. The rest of the chapter pursues this debate: how important is it still to know something of the social context or origins of a film or novel, for example, or to try and trace some coded political interests in the ways in which characters are depicted or narratives developed?
A Society of Signs? by David Harris