By Stephan Fuchs
I have had Stephan Fuchs for 2 sessions on the collage of Virginia. not just is he a very good professor, but additionally an excellent author. opposed to Essentialism provides his perspectives on cultural platforms in as transparent a way as is feasible given the complexity of the topic. this can be a booklet that are meant to be required analyzing for sociology classes, yet is perhaps a bit deep if you happen to have by no means taken a social thought direction.
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Extra info for Against Essentialism: A Theory of Culture and Society
These variations are the subject of a comparative sociology of the observer, which remains happily agnostic about “ultimate” or essential causes, except of course its own causes, which are social-structural and very real. The farther an observer moves from the referent or source of an ob- 38 • AGAINST ESSENTIALISM servation, the more he depends on simplified and condensed “official” observations, those that can be more or less trusted because they appear in the news of more or less “serious” sources.
To an observer, the ideological modes of his observing are invisible; they are the frames, paradigms, and perspectives outside of which he could observe nothing at all. While observing, these frames are tacit and taken for granted. One might say they are the observer’s common sense, his background certainties and obvious truths. This much is true about the old Althusserian adage that ideologies are “lived,” not just “believed” (McCarthy 1996:42). To be sure, for another observer who observes this observer, these frames come into view as local and historical constructs, not evident and universal constants.
On this level, the second observer does not attribute the observations of the first observer to the things and states that make up the referents in his world, but to this first observer, who is, of course, also located in this world. For example, the unproblematic facticity of the world in common sense can now be seen not as the way the world really is, but as an improbable and selective accomplishment of ethnomethods. The next switch to a higher observational level would reveal ethnomethodology itself as the social construct of an observer, the network of ethnomethodology.