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questions such as “what sorts of employees are

most satisfied with their jobs?”

However, cross-sectional designs have a number

of limitations that restrict their usefulness for

serious sociological enquiry. They provide a “snapshot”

of how things are at one particular point

in time, but do not provide information on the

dynamics of a system; for example how things

develop over time, how inequality is perpetuated,

or how institutions reproduce themselves. They

are also poor at determining the causal nature of

the relationships that are detected.

Because of these limitations, much effort has

been expended on gathering large datasets that

provide more insight into how things change over

time, for instance the British Household Panel

Survey (BHPS) that re-interviews the same individuals

and households each year ( see panel studies),

or birth cohort studies such as the National Child

Development Study that follows an entire cohort

born in one week in March, 1958, across the

United Kingdom, to investigate the relationship

between childhood environments and experiences

and outcomes in adult life or old age.



The word cult is often used interchangeably

with new religious movements and, in everyday

language, tends to have a strong negative connotation

(for example James Beckford, Cult Controversies:

The Societal Response to New Religious Movements,

1989). Cults are generally seen as evolving around

individuals and/or beliefs that are outside the

mainstream. Specifically, the term is used to

denote the group solidarity attendant on an excessive

degree of attachment and ceding of influence

to a particular person or to a particular set of

ideas and beliefs. The imposing leadership qualities

displayed by founders of new religious movements,

such as Jim Jones (the People’s Temple) or

David Koresh (Branch Davidians), or specific ideas

about Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) or paganism

can variously produce a tightly bound

cult following among their respective associates

and believers. Cult-like behavior, however, is not

confined to religious movements; paralleling

charisma, of which it is an accentuated expression,

leadership or personality cults are found

across politics (for example the cult of the emperor)

and pop culture (for example Princess

Diana), and in economic corporations, among

other spheres. Within the religious domain, moreover,

there is a long history of cultic adoration –

the cult of the saints and of devotion to the Virgin

Mary represent strong traditional forms of popular

religion. Such cults play a large role today in

religious tourism and the popularity of religious

festivals, devotional rituals, local apparition sites,

and pilgrimages (see W. Swatos and L. Tomasi

(eds.), From Medieval Pilgrimage to Religious Tourism,

2002). Cults promote religious engagement, but

also stimulate concerns among church officials

that the cultic status of a particular saint may

undercut the routinized and institutionalized authority

of church (see church–sect typology) officials

to demarcate sacred beliefs, practices, and


cultural capital

– see social capital.

cultural deprivation

This phrase refers to the idea that some racial and/

or working-class cultures are deficient because

cross-sectional design data cultural deprivation


they hinder school and social success. Cultural

deprivation theory was influential during the

1960s and 1970s. It was linked to ideas about the

culture of poverty, the underclass (see social

class), and to the idea of a cycle of poverty in

which the values associated with being poor

(such as fatalism and an antipathy to individually

accumulated wealth) and the practices associated

with poor communities prevented marginalized

groups from social and economic advancement.

Within the purview of cultural deprivation

theory, the concept of subculture took on its

earlier derogatory (and now discredited) definition

as a deviant or otherwise marginal milieu.

From within the sociology of culture, the idea of

cultural deprivation drew upon work by Basil

Bernstein and Pierre Bourdieu. While Bernstein’s

focus was on language – in particular, the notion

that working-class speakers employed a “restricted”

(versus “elaborated”) communicative

code – Bourdieu’s emphasis was on the idea that

the dominated class were unable to appropriate

“legitimate” forms of culture and thus were deprived

of opportunities for advancement. Work in

the sociology of education buttressed these ideas

by showing how children from backgrounds

lacking in cultural capital or “home advantages”

were destined to fail because of a mismatch between

the cultures of home and school. This argument

was explored in Annette Lareau’s Home

Advantage (2000). The idea of cultural deprivation

has inspired various policy initiatives, such as

Headstart, from the 1960s onward, with the aim

of providing working-class and minority children

with the cultural tools they otherwise lack. It has

also been subject to considerable critique on a

variety of fronts, most notably ethnographic and


On the linguistic critical front, William Labov’s

many studies – such as Language in the Inner City

(1972) – of nonstandard English described how depictions

of the inferiority of black communicative

styles were simply ignorant of the meanings associated

with that speech community, therefore

also showing how the idea of cultural deprivation

illustrated the white middle-class bias of both

social institutions and social science. In her study

of a black and economically disadvantaged community

in Chicago, Carole Stack in All Our Kin

(1978) demonstrated how community members

posed alternative values and meanings, ones that

were, given the structural disadvantages and routine

contingencies they faced, highly logical and

deeply practical. In Britain, Paul Willis’s Learning

to Labour (1977) showed also how the “lads” (as

the schoolboys came to be known in his study)

were seen to be actively engaged in processes of

resisting the meanings and values of mainstream

life. While the versions of cultural deprivation

theory developed by Bourdieu and Bernstein

were extremely useful in illuminating some

of the cultural mechanisms through which stratification

systems are reproduced, the idea of

cultural deprivation can be understood as, ultimately,

conservative, insofar as it implied that marginalized

groups needed to abandon their initial

logics and practices in favor of “legitimate” forms,

to gain access to economic and expressive opportunities.

In this respect, cultural deprivation

perpetuates what Richard Sennett and Jonathan

Cobb once famously referred to as The Hidden

Injuries of Class (1972). TIA DENORA

cultural imperialism

Though the impact or imposition of foreign cultural

values on subject peoples can be routinely

regarded as part of the general phenomenon of

imperialism, the term cultural imperialism has

come to be used more widely in discussions of

the influence of the values and beliefs of the dominant

global powers on the poorer and weaker

societies of the world, whether or not these are

or have been subject colonies. Specifically the

term refers to the use of superior economic and

political power to export or impose values and

attitudes at the expense of native cultures.

At the most general level, this imposition can be

considered as a cultural or ideological offshoot of

the more general spread of a whole economic

system, such as that of capitalism (communism

in its heyday was also accused of cultural imperialism).

In that sense, cultural imperialism takes

the form of the promotion of capitalist values of

individualism, competition, and materialism, at

the expense of alternative or more traditional

values, such as communalism and cooperation.

More discretely, cultural imperialism can be seen

simply as the expression of the influence and

popularity of the culture industries of the great

powers – the reach and influence of their television,

film, music, publishing, and advertising


While certain non-western and non-capitalist

powers – such as China in Tibet or the Soviet

Union in eastern Europe – have been accused of

cultural imperialism, it is generally laid at the

door of the major western capitalist societies, the

European and, especially, the American. In many

ways, indeed, cultural imperialism has become

synonymous with Americanization, since even

cultural deprivation cultural imperialism


some European societies, notably that of France,

have protested at the degree of American influence

on their culture. What is normally meant

by this is the steady spread of such things as

American eating habits, as symbolized by the

McDonald’s chain, and the dominant position in

the world of the American film and television

industries, as symbolized by Hollywood. Another

common concern is the worldwide spread of

large leisure and entertainment complexes,

such as the Disney Corporation with its Disneylands

and Disneyworlds, and the dominant position

assumed by large news corporations such

as CNN.

But “Americanization” is something of a misnomer,

as is clear from the power of the Australian

media magnate Rupert Murdoch and his

company News International – even though this

has large American operations, and Murdoch himself

became an American citizen in 1985. Moreover,

it has been shown by many studies that the

idea of cultural imperialism exaggerates the oneway

flow of values and ideas. The claim for the

McDonaldization or “Disneyfication” of the world

ignores the extent to which local cultures mediate

and reinterpret the influences from outside, large

as these may be. The ambience and use of, say, a

McDonald’s restaurant can be very different

depending on whether it is in Dallas, Delhi, or

Beijing. In general one might say that cultural

imperialism is bound up with globalization, and

while, as with all processes of globalization, there

is a general tendency towards standardization and

uniformity, this is by no means uncontested or

ever complete. KRI SHAN KUMAR

cultural lag

– see William F. Ogburn.

cultural logic of late capitalism

– see Fredric Jameson.

cultural materialism

Materialists have traditionally seen culture as a

representation of an external reality. Culture is

deemed truthful to the extent that it “reflects”

the material world in an accurate way.

Cultural materialism breaks from this notion in

two ways. The first is that it argues that culture

itself is part of the material world. Culture is

defined much more broadly as human activity –

the way we organize our lives – rather than an

aesthetic representation of the world through

music, literature, and art. For example, the houses

we build, the way we relate to others, the leisure

activities we pursue, should be deemed cultural

since they are part of (rather than reflect) material

reality. Whereas a traditional materialist view of

society examines the difference between social

reality and our cultural perceptions of it, a cultural

materialist view of society sees this social

reality as itself culturally constituted.

Culture, then, is a force that actually creates

(rather than reflects or expresses) the material

world. Even conventionally conceived culture –

literature, music, and art – is seen as practical

and not merely theoretical, since it constitutes

the world as “discourse.” To put the matter

philosophically, culture ceases to be simply

“epistemological” – that is, concerned with accuracy,

truthfulness, etc. – and becomes “ontological”

– that is, it constitutes the real world.

Cultural materialism is vulnerable to the argument

that it makes critique impossible, since to

criticize a culture it is necessary to refer it to a

world that is external to it. JOHN HOFFMAN

cultural relativism

This doctrine has two prevailing variants. One of

these is a version of moral conventionalism

positing that the validity of norms and values is

culturally specific and transcends cultural boundaries

only coincidentally. Less rigorously but more

familiarly, this is a version of moral liberalism

that acknowledges that values vary both crossculturally

and interpersonally, and prescribes

the accommodation of as great a plurality of

them as is procedurally possible. It has partial

precedents in the celebration by Johann Gottfried

von Herder (1744–1803) of the special “genius” of

each “nation”; in Giambattista Vico’s liberation of

the history of the “gentiles” from the preordained

destiny of the elect; even in the legal contextualism

of such Renaissance humanists as Desiderius

Erasmus. Narrowed to a principle of method, it

emerges in the German humanistic academy in

the later nineteenth century, hand in hand with

the development of hermeneutics and the principles

of the Geisteswissenschaften (see human sciences).

Thus narrowed, it is an intrinsic aspect of

Max Weber’s interpretive sociology – in principle

if not always in Weber’s own practice. It has a

more expansive – and, in Europe at least, even

more influential – analogue in E´mile Durkheim’s

early insistence on the analytical precedence of the

intersocietal variety of normative prescriptions

and proscriptions over the normatively universal.

As Elvin Hatch points out in Culture and Morality

(1983), it has its first advocates in the United

States in the anti-racialists and anti-evolutionists

cultural lag cultural relativism


of the end of the nineteenth and early twentieth

centuries, none of them of greater academic importance

than the founder of American cultural

anthropology, Franz Boas. It remains the signature

of that anthropology from Boas at least until

the 1970s, when it begins to weaken with the

weakening of the conceits of cultural insularity

and of ethnographic neutrality themselves.

The other variant of the doctrine is one version

or another of epistemological conventionalism,

positing at its most radical that what constitutes

knowledge is culturally specific and culturally

bounded. It has its most immediate ancestor and

most enduring complement in the linguistically

inflected conventionalism that emerges among

such German Romantic philosophers as Friedrich

von Schlegel (1772–1829) in the late eighteenth

and early nineteenth century, and acquires increasing

temper and refinement in the work of

linguist Benjamin Sapir, anthropologist Melville

Herskovits, philosophers Williard Quine and

Nelson Goodman, and historians Thomas Kuhn

and Michel Foucault in the twentieth. Lucien

Le´vy-Bruhl argues more directly for the incommensurability

of primitive and modern scientific

thought in How Natives Think (1922 [trans. 1926])

and several other works of the same period. The

issue of the cultural relativity of both reason and

conceptualization engages the contributors to

Bryan Wilson’s important collection, Rationality

(1970). If there is a single manifesto of the several

versions of epistemological conventionalism circulating

in the contemporary disciplines of cultural

analysis, however, it is most likely Peter

Berger and Thomas Luckmann’s The Social Construction

of Reality (1966). The “cultural relativism” of

only a few decades past seems to have been largely

displaced by the “social constructionism” of the


cultural reproduction

This refers to the transmission of cultural capital

through inheritance; the cultivation of order

through normative coercion. The concept is most

closely associated with the sociology of Pierre

Bourdieu, who developed it in relation to the analysis

of habitus and “symbolic repression” in Outline

of a Theory of Practice (1972 [trans. 1977]) and

Distinction (1979 [trans. 1984]). He proposed that

every individual interiorizes symbolic master-patterns

of thought and values as a condition of the

socialization process. These constitute a distinctive

social and cultural perspective that facilitates

orientation and acts as a marker of social

belonging. These symbolic master-patterns are

reinforced through interaction with others.

Each carries distinctive social status within the

social order and constitutes the basis for economic

resource allocation and the distribution of


Alternative uses can be found in the work of

Louis Althusser (Lenin, Philosophy and Other Essays,

1971) in relation to the functions of the Repressive

State Apparatus, the Ideological State Apparatus,

and the interpellation of subjects; in Antonio

Gramsci (Selections From Prison Notebooks, 1971) in

relation to hegemony, complex unity, and cultural

resistance; and in Basil Bernstein’s Class,

Codes and Control, 1971–7), an analysis of schooling,

power, and elaborated and restricted codes.

The concept is often criticized for dissolving

agency, knowledge, and reflexivity into social

mechanics. On this account, cultural reproduction

is a substitute for social determinism. However,

in Bourdieu’s sociology, the concept is

generally attached to the notion of an intellectual

or symbolic field which allows for the reflexivity

of the agent. Moreover, it is difficult to envisage

how questions of social order and change can

be addressed without utilizing a version of the

concept. CHRIS ROJEK

cultural rights

– see rights.

cultural studies

This is an interdisciplinary field that arose in

the late twentieth century, and that focuses on

the study of modern and postmodern culture, culture

being broadly understood as meanings, representations,

symbols, and identities, together

with related sites and practices. Cultural studies

draws on many disciplines and discourses, including

semiotics, communications studies, literary

theory, psychoanalysis, feminism, Marxism of

various kinds, sociology, cultural anthropology,

continental philosophy, (post)structuralism, and

critical theory. Media and popular culture are

prominent topics, but it encompasses high as

well as popular arts, literature and speech as

well as newer media, and extends to the examination

of advanced industrial culture as a whole.

The methods and perspectives of Cultural studies

have also been applied to early and pre-capitalist

phenomena. While there have been tendencies to

institutionalize Cultural studies as a new trans- or

quasi-discipline, it is not unitary, and the lines

between it and neighboring areas like sociology

and literary studies have remained blurred. In

cultural reproduction cultural studies


larger compass, Cultural studies is the site of a

more general, and contested, renovation of the

humanities and social sciences, as shaped by the

explosive post-1960s growth of various forms of

critical theory.

The emergence of Cultural studies as a distinct

(and distinctly named) area of study has been

mainly a development of the English-speaking

world. In the United Kingdom, a formative role

was played by the Centre for Contemporary

Cultural studies (CCCS) at Birmingham University

established in 1964 under the directorship of

Richard Hoggart. His Uses of Literacy (1958) traced

the impact of commercialized media (especially

print) on the formation of working-class culture.

Another early influence was Raymond

Williams, whose Culture and Society (1958) traced

the history of, and broadened, the category of

culture itself, and whose later writings on literature,

politics, and mass media connected these

interests with the 1960s and 1970s revival of

European Marxism, especially with regard to the

non-mechanistic understanding of ideology and


Under Hoggart and his successor (in 1968)

Stuart Hall, the CCCS did groundbreaking work

on urban youth subcultures, consumerism, and

the cultural side of Thatcherism and post-Fordist

restructuring. As against the Frankfurt School critique

of “mass culture,” the Birmingham School

tended to emphasize the active and creative side

of popular culture, its differential elements of

class, race, and gender, and the political ambiguity

of, for example, punk. Its theoretical inspiration

was Marxist and neo-Marxist (Antonio Gramsci,

Georg Luka´cs, Walter Benjamin, Theodor Wiesengrund

Adorno, Lucien Goldmann), but this was

accompanied by the assimilation of semiology

via Roland Barthes and Mikhail Bakhtin; poststructuralism

via Louis Althusser, Michel Foucault, and

Jacques Derrida; Sigmund Freud through Jacques

Lacan; as well as of feminist theory and much else.

The conceptual strains introduced by this mixture

led to controversies about agency, the status of

the human subject, and the social power of discourse,

as well as to a noteworthy polemic, in E. P.

Thomson’s Poverty of Theory (1978), against the elevation

of theory as such. Following the CCCS

lead, other centers for Cultural studies were established

in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada,

and elsewhere. From the 1980s onwards a prominent

role was also played by (the journal and

center) Theory Culture & Society (TCS) led by Mike

Featherstone. The TCS current was more closely

linked to sociology, and has pursued themes

such as the body, technology, and virtuality, the

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