Stuck on culture

Last night I got stuck when I tried to write two paragraphs to illustrate what ‘culture’ refers to as part of my exploration of the ‘culture of poverty’ thesis and the social inclusion agenda. I am hoping to write a section for my rational looking why difference in the form of economic inequality is taken to be a problem, and the search for a single way to understand this problematic difference. Having an understanding of a mixed community should be helpful for teasing out these issues.

I think that there is an interesting contrast (or continuity) between a notions like the ‘culture of poverty’ and ‘cultural wellness’. Although what happens to the culture of poverty thesis when it comes to be described as a type of order instead of disorder? What happens to cultural wellness when it coexists with poor health outcomes?

I am also stuck as to what I am going to do with the concept of class. I was thinking of side stepping the issue until I have some information about how people self represent and who I actually come to meet in the field. In its place I was thinking of focusing on habitus in my rational, but I am not sure if this makes my project seem completely infeasible because I am going to have imperfect information on the personal history of the people who make up my field.

This post certainly does not contain any conclusions. All I am left with is a sense of how much work I need to do before I am going to be able to communicate my current issues to my supervisor in any form that will open up a useful discussion.

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3 Responses to “Stuck on culture”

  1. Bryonny G-H Says:

    A tick for old anthro here, I think … at least no-one would expect you to define culture. (Unless they really wanted to drive you bonkers.) “Man [sic] is suspended in webs of culture that he himself has spun.”

    You have added difficulties with class since it’s fairly likely you’ll hit the Antipodean classless society myth. I am pleased I get the poms in that respect!

    Could you, in your proposal at least, trot out the sociological standard: Marxian class order as necessitated by a modern, capitalist society + complicated with Bourdieu’s capital as a means of operationalising it in the field?

    You don’t have to live with it permanently, you just have to get it written.

    • Tracey Says:

      I’m thinking of the ‘super organic’ vs webs vs current sociology. Or maybe I can just defend myself verbally if it comes to that?
      I do just need to get it done. It’s hardly like I will care if someone in three years tells me, ‘you wrote a dull confirmation report. Will I? Maybe I should just leave it until the last minute so I cannot think too much about it?

  2. Tomboktu Says:

    Oh God, I do sympathise. I spent an hour and half on Monday morning listening to an utterly unfocused “discussion” on the meaning of culture (Roma, in this case) and its implications for human rights and equality commissions. Two practical examples were suggested: that Roma culture approves of child marriage and that Roma don’t work.

    <Change of subject> I know Professor Kathleen Lynch of UCD’s Equality Studies Centre has spoken about working class culture (and the disrespect shown to it). I actually don’t know if she has written about it and it hasn’t been at the core of any of her recent research, but it might be worth checking it is dealt with in the book she and her colleagues wrote a few years ago: Baker et al. Equality From Theory to Action.

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