A Sociology of Culture, Taste and Value by S. Stewart

By S. Stewart

This booklet explores sociological debates when it comes to tradition, style and price. It argues that sociology can give a contribution to debates approximately aesthetic price and to an knowing of the way humans assessment.  

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Sample text

The first enables us to see at face value what is happening. One example Weber gives is the action of a woodcutter. Another example is an outbreak of anger. Direct observational understanding enables us to see that, in the first example, a man is chopping wood; in the second, the person’s facial expressions are tokens of an outbreak of anger. Explanatory understanding provides a means of determining why the woodcutter is cutting wood and why the person is angry. Weber (1968, p. 8) argued that this type of verstehen brings us closer to a rational understanding of motivation, and places ‘the act in an intelligible and more inclusive context of meaning’.

The extent to which the twenty-first century world we inhabit is disenchanted is debatable. It is hard to dispute that the process of ‘knowing’ the world and the universe beyond has accelerated as expressed in everything from stem cell research to space exploration. However, the disenchantment argument is not without its critics. For example, it has been argued that it is a hubris-laden misapprehension stemming from a ‘modern’ outlook to presume that there ever was an ‘enchanted’ primitive world (see Jenkins, 2000).

The example Weber provided is this: the majority of passengers travelling on a streetcar will be unlikely to know exactly how the streetcar is set in motion. This knowledge is not mysterious, magical or out of reach. It is readily demonstrable by, for example, a physicist. However, to know how a streetcar works is not a requirement for those making a journey. The passengers have only to pay their fare and they will have the right to travel; they will, quite reasonably, anticipate that the streetcar will be set in motion and they orientate their conduct according to expectation.

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