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The cultural turn is a movement beginning in the early 1970s among scholars in the
humanities Humanities are academic disciplines An academic discipline or academic field is a subdivision of knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. ...

humanities
and
social sciences Social science is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biol ...

social sciences
to make
culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, Social norm, customs, capabilities, and habits of the individuals i ...

culture
the focus of contemporary debates; it also describes a shift in emphasis toward ''meaning'' and away from a positivist
epistemology Epistemology (; ) is the Outline of philosophy, branch of philosophy concerned with knowledge. Epistemologists study the nature, origin, and scope of knowledge, epistemic Justification (epistemology), justification, the Reason, rationality o ...

epistemology
. The cultural turn is described in 2005 by
Lynette Spillman Lynette Patrice Spillman (born 1960) is a sociologist and professor of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture that surrounds everyday life. It i ...
and Mark D. Jacobs as "one of the most influential trends in the humanities and social sciences in the last generation." A prominent
historiographer Historiography is the study of the methods of historians in developing history as an academic discipline, and by extension is any body of historical work on a particular subject. The historiography of a specific topic covers how historians have ...
argues that the cultural turn involved a "wide array of new theoretical impulses coming from fields formerly peripheral to the social sciences," especially
post-structuralism Post-structuralism is a term for philosophical, theoretical and literary forms of theory that both build upon and reject ideas established by structuralism In sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns o ...
, cultural studies, literary criticism, and various forms of linguistic analysis, which emphasized "the causal and socially constitutive role of cultural processes and systems of signification."


Background

The cultural turn in the late 20th century is interpreted as referring to either a substantive shift in society or an analytical shift in academia. The former argues that culture plays a more significant role in advanced societies, which fits with the notion of
post-modernity Postmodernity (post-modernity or the postmodern condition) is the economic or cultural state or condition of society which is said to exist ''after'' modernity. Some schools of thought hold that modernity ended in the late 20th century – in the 1 ...
as a historical era in which people "emphasizes the importance of art and culture for education, moral growth, and social criticism and change". The latter is movement within academia to place the concept of culture, and the related notions of ''meaning'', ''cognition'', ''affect'', and ''symbols'' at the center of methodological and theoretical focus. Some argue that the analytical shift is endogenous to the substantive shift. Culture can be defined as "the social process whereby people communicate meanings, make sense of their world, construct their identities, and define their beliefs and values". Or, for
Georg Simmel Georg Simmel (; ; 1 March 1858 – 26 September 1918) was a German sociologist, philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those abo ...

Georg Simmel
,
culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, Social norm, customs, capabilities, and habits of the individuals i ...

culture
refers to "the cultivation of individuals through the agency of external forms which have been objectified in the course of history". Thus culture can be interpreted on a spectrum from purely individualistic
solipsism Solipsism (; ) is the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, existence, knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness, or understanding of someone or s ...
to objective forms of social organization and interaction.


History


Analytical shift

One of the earliest works in which the term "cultural turn" showed up was Jeffrey C. Alexander's chapter "The New Theoretical Movement" in
Neil Smelser Neil Joseph Smelser (1930–2017) was an American sociologist who served as professor Professor (commonly abbreviated as Prof.) is an Academy, academic rank at university, universities and other post-secondary education and research institut ...
's ''Handbook of Sociology'' (1988). According to Alexander, the origins of the cultural turn should be traced to the nineteenth-century debate between idealism and materialism, i.e. Hegel and Marx, respectively. Prior to the labeling of the movement, in the 1970s, "foundational works underlying and facilitating the turn to cultural forms of analysis" emerged:
Hayden White Hayden V. White (July 12, 1928 – March 5, 2018) was an American historian in the tradition of literary criticism, perhaps most famous for his work ''Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe'' (1973/2014). Career Whi ...

Hayden White
's '' Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe'' (1973),
Clifford Geertz Clifford James Geertz (; August 23, 1926 – October 30, 2006) was an American anthropologistAn anthropologist is a person engaged in the practice of anthropology. Anthropology is the study of aspects of humans within past and present Society, s ...
's ''The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays'' (1973),
Michel Foucault Paul-Michel Foucault (, ; ; 15 October 192625 June 1984) was a French philosopher, historian of ideas Intellectual history (also the history of ideas) is the study of the history of human thought and of intellectual An intellectual is a ...

Michel Foucault
's ''
Discipline and Punish ''Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison'' (french: Surveiller et punir : Naissance de la prison) is a 1975 book by the French philosopher Michel Foucault Paul-Michel Foucault ( , ; ; 15 October 192625 June 1984) was a French philo ...
'' (1977), and
Pierre Bourdieu Pierre Bourdieu (; 1 August 1930 – 23 January 2002) was a French sociologist and public intellectual An intellectual is a person who engages in critical thinking, research, and Human self-reflection, reflection to advance discussions of ...
's ''Outline of a Theory of Practice'' (1977). While the earlier twentieth century experienced a linguistic turn, mostly brought about by the thought of
Ludwig Wittgenstein Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein ( ; ; 26 April 1889 – 29 April 1951) was an Austrian Austrian may refer to: * Austrians, someone from Austria or of Austrian descent ** Someone who is considered an Austrian citizen, see Austrian nationali ...

Ludwig Wittgenstein
and
Ferdinand de Saussure Ferdinand de Saussure (; ; 26 November 1857 – 22 February 1913) was a Swiss Swiss may refer to: * the adjectival form of Switzerland , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = Fed ...

Ferdinand de Saussure
, the cultural turn of the late twentieth century absorbed those criticisms and built on them. The cultural turn has helped
cultural studies #REDIRECT Cultural studies #REDIRECT Cultural studies#REDIRECT Cultural studies Cultural studies is a field of theoretically, politically, and empirically engaged cultural analysis that concentrates upon the political dynamics of contemporary cul ...
to gain more respect as an academic discipline. With the shift away from high arts the discipline has increased its perceived importance and influence on other disciplines. British historian Heather Jones argues that the has been reinvigorated by the cultural turn in recent years. Scholars have raised entirely new questions regarding military occupation, radicalisation of politics, race, and the male body.


Substantive shift

The cultural turn as an historical era that breaks substantively with the past is only tangentially related to cultural turn as analytical shift. Proponents of the former argue that:
Advertising Advertising is a marketing Marketing is the process of intentionally stimulating demand for and purchases of goods and services; potentially including selection of a target audience; selection of certain attributes or themes to emphasi ...

Advertising
,
amateur photography Image:Family-House-1969.jpg, 200pxVernacular photography is the creation of photographs that take everyday life and common things as subjects. Though the more commonly known definition of the word "vernacular" is a quality of being "indigenous" or ...
,
yellow journalism Yellow journalism and yellow press are American terms for journalism Journalism is the production and distribution of report Image:Hurt Report cover page.png, 220px, Example of a front page of a report A report is a document that prese ...
and an assortment of other forms of media arose after the politically charged 1960s. Moreover, this media was
multicultural The term multiculturalism has a range of meanings within the contexts of sociology, political philosophy, and colloquial use. In sociology and in everyday usage, it is a synonym for "Pluralism (political theory), ethnic pluralism", with the two ...
, and attempted to target all races, ethnicities and age groups, as opposed to more exclusive media prior to the 1960s. This "
new media New media are forms of media that are computational and rely on computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to Execution (computing), carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern computers can p ...
" of a
postmodern Postmodernism is an intellectual stance or mode of discourse defined by an attitude of toward what it describes as the and of , as well as opposition to certainty and the stability of . It questions or criticizes viewpoints associated with ...
America brought about an expansion and differentiation of culture, which has only been rapidly expanded by the
Internet The Internet (or internet) is the global system of interconnected computer networks that uses the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to communicate between networks and devices. It is a ''internetworking, network of networks'' that consist ...

Internet
and
social media Social media are interactive technologies that facilitate the creation Creation may refer to: Religion * Creation ''ex nihilo'', the concept that matter was created by God out of nothing * Creation myth A creation myth (or cosmogonic myth) ...

social media
.


In rural studies

In recent years, there has been something of a resurgence in rural studies, which has become somewhat more mainstream than previously in the academic space of social science. Increasing numbers of people have taken on important dualistic questions of society/space, nature/culture structure/agency and self/other from the perspective of rural studies. However, it is the 'cultural turn' in wider social science which has lent both respectability and excitement to the nexus with rurality, particularly with new foci on landscape, otherness and the spatiality of nature. With a conceptual fascination with difference, and a methodological fascination with
ethnography Ethnography (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is ap ...

ethnography
, cultural studies have provided a significant
palimpsest In textual studies, a palimpsest () is a manuscript A manuscript (abbreviated MS for singular and MSS for plural) was, traditionally, any document written by hand – or, once practical typewriters became available, typewritten — as opp ...

palimpsest
uous overlay onto existing landscapes of knowledge.


See also

* Aretaic turn *
Linguistic turn The linguistic turn was a major development in Western philosophy Western philosophy refers to the philosophy, philosophical thought and work of the Western world. Historically, the term refers to the philosophical thinking of Western culture, ...
* Historical turn


References

Finlay Macknay, The way of the lad. 2011 {{Authority control Cultural studies 20th-century philosophy