Three Cultures



The concept of culture is notoriously hard to define, and it is not clear what falls inside and outside of culture.1 A definition will be provided shortly, but as mentioned in the introduction (Chapter 1), the argument here is that there are three major candidates for culture in modern society: religion, science and consumption. Religion becomes residual, consumption provides diffuse legitimation, and science (Chapter 5) undermines some parts of culture but strengthens others. That leaves one other contender: political beliefs. These can be subsumed under political change or the political order if they are powerful enough to contribute to divergence (as discussed in Chapters 2 and 3). Yet as discussed in Chapter 2, even in this case it is important to put beliefs such as ‘individualism’ into a broader context — importantly here, how ‘individualism’ relates to the state. There is also a broader, anthropological, notion of culture as everyday life. In keeping with the overall argument, however, culture only contributes to macro-sociological patterns if aggregate changes in everyday life can be shown to have wider repercussions.


Everyday Life Social Movement Popular Culture Political Order Modern Culture 
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Copyright information

© Ralph Schroeder 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of OxfordUK

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