Against Essentialism: A Theory of Culture and Society

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Harvard University Press, Jul 1, 2009 - Social Science - 398 pages
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"Against Essentialism" presents a sociological theory of culture. This interdisciplinary and foundational work deals with basic issues common to current debates in social theory, including society, culture, meaning, truth, and communication. Stephan Fuchs argues that many mysteries about these concepts lose their mysteriousness when dynamic variations are introduced.

Fuchs proposes a theory of culture and society that merges two core traditions--American network theory and European (Luhmannian) systems theory. His book distinguishes four major types of social "observers"--encounters, groups, organizations, and networks. Society takes place in these four modes of association. Each generates levels of observation linked with each other into a "culture"--the unity of these observations.

"Against Essentialism" presents a groundbreaking new approach to the construction of society, culture, and personhood. The book invites both social scientists and philosophers to see what happens when essentialism is abandoned.

 

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Contents

Introduction
1
Theory after Essentialism
12
How to Sociologize with a Hammer
71
Cultural Rationality
111
Foundations of Culture
138
Encounters Groups
191
Networks
251
Realism Explained
293
Conclusion
331
Theses
337
Index
367
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About the author (2009)

Stephan Fuchs is Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Virginia.

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