Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Again with the Relationships

This time the focus on relationships is manifested in Strauss & Quinn’s definition of culture as: the interplay between intrapersonal, mental structures (schemas) and extrapersonal, world structures.
This cognitive theory of cultural meaning comes closer to my understanding of Bahktin’s learning theory, i.e., that all learning occurs twice, first sociologically and then psychologically, than we’ve come to this point. S&Q describe the mechanisms, schemas, by which learning is internalized. Additionally, S&Q state that cognition cannot be considered apart from emotion and motivation. Suddenly it seems as though we’ve moved almost completely back into Educational Psychology!
Although the terms centripetal and centrifugal didn’t resonate with me personally, I did appreciate how they were used to describe the complex balance of factors pulling apart and pushing together cultural meanings.
I was particularly taken with Strauss & Quinn’s attachment theory example (p. 92) explaining why cultural meanings are durable.
I also thought it was important that these schemas can be shared owing to people having the same developmental experiences. It seems as though one would have difficulty making the case that an individual’s schema was an important component of cultural meaning; however, when Strauss & Quinn explain that these schemas are widely shared due to shared experiences, then it begins to make sense that these widely held schemas, interacting with social structures, would create widely held cultural meanings.
I can’t help but think the concluding chapter, Beyond Old Oppositions (p. 252-256), could not have been well received by other anthropologists. Admittedly, I know next to nothing about the field of anthropology, but Strauss & Quinn’s tone in the last chapter made me glad I was not in the Geertzian, cultural studies, interpretivist, postmodernist, or historical materialist camps. The voice in that last chapter seemed to be speaking from some superior height, giving friendly advice to poor, misguided or not-so-bright acquaintainces. Maybe it was just me: did anyone else have a similar reaction?

4 Comments:

Blogger Sean McCarthy said...

It was something that I really liked about the book that it did try to incorporate lots of different theories into its own reading of theory; like you, I was slightly frightened by the way they completely white-wash so many different methodological approaches.

Interesting that you bring up Bakhtin in this context.I think they would answer you that he still separates the internal and external worlds...from what I understand of their theories, people learn once, but take intrapersonal and external influences into account when they do so.

10:45 AM  
Blogger gfp said...

I agree that the ending was a bit, "See, we're right, you're wrong, but we still want you to come out and play." But how do you in the competitive, egotistical world of academia build common ground between different fields protecting their turf? Though less effective, maybe this is one of the only examples of an attempt that we have.

3:08 PM  
Blogger mdl said...

I agree that it is interesting--the tone that they take in the conclusion. It struck me as more patronizing than in the introduction, when they basically survey these same theoretical frameworks in order to make the claim that what they are about to propose is compatible. Later on, the tone changes to one of "now see kids, here's the way you're supposed to do it."

4:45 PM  
Blogger Annie said...

Forgive me for interjecting business lingo into our erudite conversation...perhaps one of the strongest factors leading to different researchers, theorists and academics being in a sort of perpetual "tit for tat" is academia's performance review "culture." What are the assumptions underlying this performance review structrue, which values "new" knowledge (research and publication) over dissemination of knowledge (teaching)?

4:58 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home