Zammito, J.H. 2010. The Migration of the ‘Culture’ Concept from Anthropology to Sociology…

Zammito, John H. 2010. “The Migration of the ‘Culture’ Concept from Anthropology to Sociology at the Fin de Siécle.” Beyond Writing Culture: Current Intersections of Epistemologies and Representational Practices, edited by Olaf Zenker and Karsten Kumoll. New York: Berghahn. Pp. 187-210.

As anthropology seems to disenchant with the idea of culture, the burden has somehow shifted to sociology- in figuring out and describing exactly what is culture and how it works. Two forces prompted the post-modern shift in anthropology – issues of representation in language, and the fact that anthropology was built on colonial and imperial forces. Emergence of “cultural studies” (American, not European) sought to understand culture through lens of race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity (but somehow neglected class?) – taking on the role that was traditionally set out by anthropology, and expanding it to include identity markers. The exploration, then at this time, of culture was seemingly suspended – culture could not be viewed as natural, local, discrete or bounded; instead Appadurai (1990, 20) noted that there were “no Euclidean boundaries, structures or regularities” to culture (kx^ yet….). Sewell (1999) sought to resolve this – culture-as-structure vs. culture-as-practice; however, to him, these were complimentary and dialectical —- but, Zammito asks – are these more of a synthesis?


Appadurai, Arjun. 1990. “Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy.” Public Culture 2:1-25.

Sewell Jr., William. 1999. “The Concept(s) of Culture,” in Victoria Bonnell and Lynn Hunt (eds) Beyond the Cultural Turn. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Pp. 35-61.


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