Jeffrey C. Alexander brings together new and leading contributors to make a powerful and coherently argued case for a new direction in cultural sociology, one that focuses on the intersection between performance, ritual and social action. Performance has always been used by sociologists to understand the social world but this volume offers the first systematic analytical framework based on the performance metaphor to explain large-scale social and cultural processes. From September 11, to the Clinton/Lewinsky affair, to the role of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Social Performance draws on recent work in performative theory in the humanities and in cultural studies to offer a novel approach to the sociology of culture. Inspired by the theories of Austin, Derrida, Durkheim, Goffman, and Turner, this is a path-breaking volume that makes a major contribution to the field. It will appeal to scholars and students alike.
Jeffrey C. Alexander is the Lillian Chavenson Saden Professor of Sociology and also Chair of the Sociology Department at Yale University. He is the author of The Meanings of Social Life: A Cultural Sociology (2003), Cultural Trauma and Collective Identity (with Eyerman, Giesen, Smelser, and Sztompka (2004), and the editor (with Philip Smith) of The Cambridge Companion to Durkheim (2005). Bernhard Giesen holds the chair for macro-sociology in the Department of History and Sociology at the University of Konstanz (Germany) and is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at Yale University. Among the more than twenty books he has written and edited are The Intellectuals and the Nation: Collective Identity in a German Axial Age (Cambridge 1998) and Triumph and Trauma (2004). Jason L. Mast is a Doctoral Candidate in Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a Visiting Fellow at Yale University's Department of Sociology and its Center for Cultural Sociology.
Introduction: symbolic action in theory and practice: the cultural pragmatics of symbolic action Jeffrey C. Alexander and Jason L. Mast; 1. Cultural pragmatics: social performance between ritual and strategy Jeffrey C. Alexander; 2. From the depths of despair: performance, counterperformance, and 'September 11' Jeffrey C. Alexander; 3. The cultural pragmatics of event-ness: the Clinton/Lewinsky affair Jason L. Mast; 4. Social dramas, shipwrecks and cockfights: conflict and complicity in social performance Isaac Reed; 5. Performing a 'new' nation: the role of the TRC in South Africa Tanya Goodman; 6. Performing opposition or, how social movements move Ron Eyerman; 7. Politics as theater: an alternative view of the rationalities of power David E. Apter; 8. Symbols in action: Willy Brandt's kneefall at the Warsaw monument Valentin Rauer; 9. The promise of performance and the problem of order Kay Junge; 10. Performance art Bernhard Giesen; 11. Performing the sacred: a Durkheimian perspective on the performance turn in the social sciences Bernhard Giesen.