© 2012

Iconic Power

Materiality and Meaning in Social Life

  • Editors
  • Jeffrey C. Alexander
  • Dominik Bartmański
  • Bernhard Giesen

Part of the Cultural Sociology book series (CULTSOC)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-ix
  2. Introduction: Materiality and Meaning in Social Life: Toward an Iconic Turn in Cultural Sociology

  3. Part I

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 13-13
    2. Jeffrey C. Alexander
      Pages 25-35
  4. Part II

  5. Part III

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 117-117
    2. Daniel Šuber, Slobodan Karamanić
      Pages 119-138
  6. Part IV

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 185-185
    2. Hans Belting
      Pages 187-202
    3. Bernhard Giesen
      Pages 203-218
    4. Piotr Sztompka
      Pages 233-245

About this book


A collection of original articles that explore social aspects of the phenomenon of icon. Having experienced the benefits and realized the limitations of so called 'linguistic turn', sociology has recently acknowledged a need to further expand its horizons.


culture Iconic Turn Ritual seduction social theory sociology statistics

About the authors

Jeffrey C. Alexander, Yale University, USA Dominik Bartma?ski, Yale University, USA Gottfried Boehm, Basel University, Switzerland Hans Belting, Northwestern University, USA Fuyuki Kurasawa, York University, Canada Wendy Bowler, LaTrobe University, Australia Werner Binder, Masaryk University, Czech Republic Philip Smith, Yale University, USA Ian Woodward, Griffith University, Australia David Ellison, Griffith University, Australia Daniel uber, University of Lucerne, Switzerland Slobodan Karamani?, Ljubljana Graduate School of the Humanities, Slovenia Valentin Rauer, Goethe University Frankfurt Main, Germany Bernhard Giesen, Universität Konstanz, Germany Julia Sonnevend, Columbia University, USA Piotr Sztompka, Jagiellonian University, Poland

Bibliographic information


'Iconic Power is the strongest theoretical statement to yet come out of the 'Strong Program' in Cultural Sociology. Arguably, more than any other trope, including those of ritual and performance, the concept of 'iconicity' promises to break free of the economistic, linguistic and other kinds of reductionisms that plague the cultural sciences. This fine volume contains both theoretical expositions on how pictorial icons do their cultural work, as well as applied analyses of phenomena such as 9/11, images of famines, Woodstock and Bayreuth as 'iconic' events, expensive Australian red wines and the political iconography of Post-Communist Eastern Europe. If cultural sociology is to have a vibrant future and not repeat the mistakes of the past then in Iconic Power: Materiality and Meaning in Social Life practitioners have a handbook on how to approach the distinctive character of the visual and other non-discursive symbols.' - Eduardo de la Fuente, Sociology, Flinders University; author of Twentieth Century Music and the Question of Modernity

'Ranging in its coverage from the events of 9/11 to images of HIV, and from the revolutions of 1989 to cult wines, this book systematically unpacks the tremendous importance of icons in social life. Both a striking contribution to visual sociology, and a powerful manifesto for new directions in cultural sociology, Iconic Power is fascinating reading for everyone interested in the seductive potency of iconography.' - David Inglis, Head of Department, Department of Sociology, University of Aberdeen