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Elizabeth Long: Why was culture relegated to the back burner?

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According to Elizabeth Long, what are at least two reasons why culture was relegated to the 'back burner' in much of 20th century American sociology? Why has it become a more recent concern for us? Based on your own knowledge of sociology (particularly from taking sociology courses), how are these recent trends reflected or not reflected in your own experiences with the discipline?

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Solution Summary

The solution is a 793-word narrative that discusses Elizabeth Long's proposition regarding culture being relegated to the back burner in American Sociological studies of the 20th century. Taking on ideas from Stuart Hall, the solution explains why at present culture has once again taken center stage in sociological studies particularly in the study of identity creation and socialization. The concept of paradigm shifts as well as the sociological perspectives is also discussed. Print references have been listed for further studies.

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Sociology and Cultural Studies

In her book, 'From sociology to cultural studies: new perspectives' (1997), Long proposed that sociologists had always been at odds with scholars (i.e. humanists) who study culture for its details and it's marking of identity. Sociologists study culture as a kind of system, one of practices and structures. With methodology, especially that of the European schools involved, details are less important than what was quantifiable, what could be distilled empirically. In a way, the tradition pioneered via positivism became the more widely accepted standard of sociological study that the study of society via the details brought about by culture was relegated to the sidelines. Long proposed that the qualitative approaches of the Chicago School was seen only as an alternative in that ethnography was utilized to understand how culture constructed identity including everyday practices and the relationship of culture to linguistic practices. This was at odds with rigorous methodology, hence, this approach was, even though it was accepted to still be valid, relegated to the back burner. In a way the approaches in cultural studies was more geared towards anthropological measures and sociology, with its interest in understanding key structures and elements of society via rigid methodology finds itself at odds with ethno-anthro concerns and approaches to micro, messy details. Hence, much of the 20th century ...

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  • MPhil/PhD (IP), Open University, Milton Keynes, UK
  • MA, Open University, Milton Keynes, UK
  • Certificate, Geva Ulpan (via Universita Tel Aviv)
  • BA, University of the Philippines
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