This article aims to contribute to the increasingly rich body of ethnographic and sociological studies that focus on processes of musical practice. After a brief introduction to the significance of music in social life, it outlines the advantages of adopting an actor-oriented analysis that gives close attention to issues of agency and emergent socio-cultural forms. This is followed by a brief encounter with the dynamics of musical performance as perceived by members of the Guarneri Quartet, after which two contrasting musical scenarios are analyzed in depth. The first focuses on music and ritual practices in the Peruvian Andes, and the second on the English musical renaissance of the early twentieth century. The article closes with a brief comment on the need to examine in depth the social components of musical composition and performance.
Issues of Agency and Social Practice
In the course of sociological research about the Internet, an accompanying range of new methodological approaches have been developed to investigate usage, communication, processes of appropriation, and the virtuality of the Internet. However, the exploration of the Internet as a technological and material object as well as the question of how it is involved in human practices are seen more rarely. This paper presents a methodology of software-based recording and an analysis of the interactions between humans and the Internet, which are visible on the screen. Adding methods of usability and market research to sociological Internet research, this enables us to “move closer” to the technology and to get a detailed view of human practices and Internet “actions” on the interface; therewith, it will be possible to investigate how social practices proceed when Internet technologies are involved, how users handle the Internet and to what extent it enables, facilitates, limits, or hinders practices.
Marianne Ryghaug and Marit Toftaker
This article focuses on the introduction of electric vehicles in Norway and how electrical cars are understood culturally in relation to conventional car use. Theoretically, elements of social practice theory and the analysis of processes of domestication are combined to frame practical, cognitive, and symbolic dimensions of electric car use. The empirical data consists of individual and focus group interviews with electric car users. The analysis unpacks the implications of user-designated meaning in driving practices, competencies considered necessary when driving electric cars, and the material aspects regarded as critical features of electric car driving. Preliminary findings suggest that the practice of electric car driving alters user habits by making transportation needs more salient and raises both the technological and energy consumption awareness of users.
Françoise Bartiaux and Luis Reátegui Salmón
Based on empirical data on “green” practices according to household size, this article questions the role, if any, given to close personal relationships by social practice theories in sustaining or not daily life practices. Data are mainly drawn from an Internet survey conducted in Belgium in 2006 by WWF-Belgium on daily practices, related to food, energy consumption, mobility, and tourism. Results show that smaller households carry out more numerous “green” practices than larger ones. The concluding discussion underlines the relevance of including social interactions—namely within the household—into the conceptual framework derived from the social theories of practices, to take into account the rearticulating role of social interactions and domestic power claims when carrying out a practice or a set of practices, and when changing it.
An important issue in contemporary social theory is how social thought can systematically take materiality into account. This article suggests that one way social theory can do so is by working with an ontology that treats materiality as part of society. The article presents one such ontology, according to which social phenomena consist in nexuses of human practices and material arrangements. This ontology (1) recognizes three ways materiality is part of social phenomena, (2) holds that most social phenomena are intercalated constellations of practices, technology, and materiality, and (3) opens up consideration of relations between practices and material arrangements. A brief practice-material history of the Kentucky Bluegrass region where the author resides illustrates the idea that social phenomena evince changing material configurations over time.
Temporal Modalities and Relational Practices of ‘Getting By’ in the Greek Economic Crisis
This article investigates the temporalities of ‘getting by’ amidst the ripple effects of economic deterioration in Volos, Greece. Through the case of Kalypso and her family, I argue for a relational framework in the study of temporal practices, and then discuss the significant material relations of the family. Faced with less than half of their previous income, Kalypso runs a general budget pool via e-banking that allows her to coordinate the temporal constraints of periodic and everyday bills. The effect is a drifting apart of temporal experiences in the family as well as tensions about the future. Temporal agency is shown to reside in the modalities of social relations and in corresponding practices.
The International Journal of Cultural and Social Practice
Social Analysis was published for 23 years by the Department of Anthropology, University of Adelaide. From January, 2002 it will now be published in New York by Berghahn Books of New York and Oxford. In recent years, it has encouraged a dialogue within anthropology and especially in that interface between anthropologists and other scholars in the social sciences and humanities. However, the restructuring of the journal and the constitution of a new international editorial committee is intended to situate the journal strongly within debates and issues affecting human populations in all parts of contemporary globalized realities. More than ever the journal is concerned to intervene in the formation of an anthropological critical and empirical gaze relevant to contemporary realities. This intervention is directed to explore the horizons of the possibilities of anthropological analysis and understanding, of what might be described as the anthropological attitude which consistently problematizes every aspect of human social life and existence. The journal in this way seeks to break out of anthropology in a narrow disciplinary sense and to encourage contributions which express an open yet simultaneously rigorous approach to the crises of being human and which are enabled to draw from a great diversity of relevant fields of enquiry.
Boys’ Polarized Perspectives on Reading
This article draws on interview data gathered from a broader study concerned with examining issues associated with boys, masculinities, and reading at school. The focus is on eight boys in Years 5 and 6 who attend schools in a range of socioeconomic communities in Australia. The boys offer polarized perspectives on reading, with four boys reporting positive attitudes toward reading and describing reading books as “fun” and another four boys describing reading books as “boring.” Examined are inflections in these two groups of boys’ experiences as readers at school, making visible the way boys’ attitudes influence engagement with reading. This research moves beyond broad generalizations about boys to consider complexities inherent in notions of masculinity and how different groups of boys internalize their positioning of reading in ways that influence their attitudes, engagement, and subsequently outcomes in reading.
The Concern for Sociality—Practicing Equality and Hierarchy in Denmark
Maja Hojer Bruun, Gry Skrædderdal Jakobsen and Stine Krøijer
Equality is one of the concepts that people often associate with Scandinavia. Within anthropology, the works of Marianne Gullestad (1946–2008)—particularly, her monograph Kitchen-Table Society (1984) and the anthology The Art of Social Relations (1992a)—are among the few attempts to contribute to the theoretical debate on egalitarianism and sociality. With her concept of ‘egalitarian individualism’, Gullestad inscribes Scandinavia within broader comparative studies of ideological systems revolving around two dichotomies: hierarchyequality and holism-individualism (Béteille 1986; Dumont 1970, 1986; Kapferer 1988; Robbins 1994). Gullestad (1992b: 183) developed a theory of a specific “Norwegian, Scandinavian or Northern European variety” of modernity and of the general modern themes of individualism and equality. Exploring egalitarian individualism from different angles, she argued that equality is cast as ‘sameness’ in Scandinavia (Gullestad 1992d: 174 ff.), meaning that people develop an interactional style that emphasizes similarity and under-communicates difference in order to feel equal and to establish a sense of community. In Gullestad’s (1992b: 197) view, ‘equality as sameness’ is a central cultural idea that balances and resolves the tensions in the Norwegian ideological system between the individual and society, independence and community, equality and hierarchy.
Stephen Eric Bronner, J.M. Coetzee, Raymond Geuss, Pedro Alexis Tabensky and Raimo Tuomela
Imagining the Possible: Radical Politics for Conservative Times Stephen Eric Bronner
Stranger Shores: Essays 1986-1999 J.M. Coetzee
History and Illusion in Politics Raymond Geuss
Happiness: Personhood, Community, Purpose Pedro Alexis Tabensky
The Philosophy of Social Practices: A Collective Acceptance View Raimo Tuomela