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date: 26 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines the use of analytic continua with spatial scaling and with potentially similar reifying effects to rationalize social meaning rather than just sound or sight in cultural sociology. It considers the use of the figure of spatial scaling as a point of entry to elucidate the basic logic by which many sociologists interpret the relation between what is culturally meaningful and what lies “outside” culture (or our concept of culture). Four case studies that illustrate how cultural practices generate meanings and reference in social life are presented: one relating to the creation of distinct color categories from the spectrum of hues in the rainbow as a paradigm for cultural analysis, and the other three relating to the views of Pierre Bourdieu, Randall Collins, and Philip Gorski. These four exemplars suggest that cultural sociology would benefit from dialogue with skeptical counter-principles for establishing—and questioning—our objects of explanation.

Keywords: analytic continua, spatial scaling, social meaning, culture, color, cultural analysis, Pierre Bourdieu, Randall Collins, Philip Gorski, cultural sociology

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