Broad social identities like ethnicity and class are not only resources mobilized by social movements. Relational analysis reveals they can also be barriers constraining movement growth, as symbolic affinities with particular social identities may construct movement membership and support as incompatible with other identities. This mechanism may reproduce the particular demographics of social movements regardless of their universal messages and aspirations. Strategic deidentification may be crucial in struggles for social change. A study of the Israeli vegan animal advocacy movement during a time of diversification and growth is used to explore strategies movements use to dissociate themselves from particular social identities, both at the movement strategy level and the individual identity work level. Several 'deidentification strategies' are identified, including celebrating untypical identities, redefining the boundaries of the political, revising tactics and collective action frames, and becoming a field to mirror social space.
Viewing both ethics and aesthetics as reflections of the social, cultural sociologists fail to thoroughly account for the complex interrelations between these realms. This article explores this relationship through a study of ‘farterism’, a discursive category that emerged in Israel during the 1990s and is used to denounce vain pretence. Not only do aesthetic surfaces operate as emotionally-laden shortcuts to deeper layers of ethical meaning, the very act of aesthetic judgement is moralized, subjected to normative regulation. The article analyses the use of ‘farterism’ in the lay evaluation of architecture, restaurants and films, while reconstructing its implied ethic of aesthetic, ‘the hedonistic ethic of authenticity’. I discuss this ethic’s philosophical-cultural roots (including the performative contribution of critical social science) and the continuities between its application in cultural evaluation and in wider moral contexts. The pattern that emerges in the data relies on the Emperor’s New Clothes tale: uncovering the hidden influence of the social on the aesthetic is at the centre of the normative regulation of aesthetic judgement. This allows laypersons to challenge cultural hierarchies shaped by cultural fields, experts and markets, and denounce them as corrupted by the social.
The article explores Facebook governance—its mechanisms, motivations and sources of power—while identifying wider patterns and logics that apply to other internet corporations. I suggest that (1) When digital capitalism turns mundane human interactions into biopolitical production, corporations gain interest in governing these interactions to maximize profit, and make decisions on core political issues; (2) Facebook can effectively govern and discipline users since it remolds various field-specific forms of capital into a single form, generalized social capital, and since it can threaten to confiscate generalized social capital accumulated by users; (3) Digital platforms do not simply epitomize a shift from discipline toward neo-liberal decentralized governance. Instead, they engage in intensive legislation, administration of justice and punishment; and develop eclectic governing and legitimation apparatuses consisting of algorithms, proletarian judicial labor and quasi-constitutional governing documents.
The article explores different ways to conceptualize the relationship between choice and culture. These two notions are often constructed as opposites: while sociologies of modernization (such as Giddens’) portray a shift from cultural traditions to culturally disembedded choice, dispositional sociologies (such as Bourdieu's) uncover cultural determination as the hidden truth behind apparent choice. However, choice may be real and cultural simultaneously. Culture moulds choice not only by inculcating dispositions or shaping repertoires of alternatives, but also by offering culturally specific choice practices, ways of choosing embedded in meaning, normativity, and materiality; and by shaping attributions of choice in everyday life. By bringing together insights from rival schools, I portray an outline for a comparative cultural sociology of choice, and demonstrate its purchase while discussing the digitalization of choice; and cultural logics that shape choice attribution in ways opposing neoliberal trends
During the 2014 Gaza war Facebook became a central arena for moral/political boundary work for Israeli users, resulting in unusually high rates of politically motivated tie dissolution. Cultural criteria were thus applied to restructure and symbolically cleanse social networks. We analyze Facebook’s visibility-structures, interview data and public posts to explore this phenomenon. Studying Facebook interaction reveals cultural mechanisms used offline to sustain heterogeneous social networks and facilitate interaction despite differences—group style differentiation between circles, differential self-presentation, and constructing imagined homogeneity—whose employment is impeded by Facebook’s material design. This case of materiality-informed value homophily introduces materiality to the sociological understanding of the interrelations between culture and network structure. Interviewees reported dissolving ties following their shock and surprise at the political views and sacrilegious expression styles of their Facebook friends. We demonstrate that their shock and surprise derived from Facebook’s design, which converges life spheres and social circles and thwarts segregation of interactions, group styles and information. Rather than disembedding individuals from groups within the ‘networked-individualism,’ it makes individuals accountable for their statements towards all their social circles. In dramatic times, this collapse of segregation between life-spheres, affiliation circles and group styles conjures Durkheimian sociability and symbolic cleansing despite commitment to pluralism.
Critical sociology suggests that taste judgments are not independent of the social, as actors use them to claim social value. This article demonstrates that this critical perspective has gained currency among laypersons, transforming everyday struggles over cultural evaluation. I discuss the new discursive category ‘farterism’, which emerged in Israel in the 1990s to denounce vain pretence and became ubiquitous in everyday evaluation. I analyse online user-generated reviews on films and restaurants alongside broadsheet newspaper articles to explore how this category is used in different contexts by different actors, which aesthetic surface characteristics are most associated with it and why, and how farterism critique reshapes the relationship between lay judgments and established market (prices) and field/art-world (status) hierarchies. Farterism critique is often used to fend off symbolic violence, but cultural elites use it too, despite their interest. I discuss the implicit ethic behind farterism critique, and its connections with recent transformations of capitalism.
While authenticity has become a main axiological principle in late-modernity, a desired good and token of worth, studies from different countries indicate inequality in access to authenticity: middle-class ethnic minorities often face difficulties being recognized as authentic and experiencing themselves as such. This phenomenon in discussed below in terms of symbolic violence. While doing this the article makes several theoretical contributions: (1) Bourdieu's notion of symbolic violence is historicized. Different forms of symbolic violence (pre-modern, modern and late-modern) are distinguished, each relying on a unique cosmology, logic and symbolic economy. (2) Different strategies employed by social theorists to theorize authenticity are discussed and compared to reveal a gap between common understandings of authenticity as the dispositional depth of action and the misrecognized principle that often informs the ascription of authenticity, i.e. faithfulness to established discursive categories. Discursive structures allow members of hegemonic groups to naturalize cultural exploration and self-transformation as authentic self-realization, whereas even second-generation middle-class ethnic minorities often have their classed dispositions suspected as inauthentic. Some eventually understand themselves as inauthentic; while others invest in late acquisition of low-brow culture in order to gain authenticity, thus contributing to their own subjection. (3) Cultural schemes may thus exert symbolic violence even if they cannot be traced back to strategic action of their privileged beneficiaries.
Based on focus groups and interviews with student renters in an Israeli slum, the article explores the contributions of differences in sonic styles and sensibilities to boundary-work, social categorization and evaluation. Alongside visual cues such as broken windows, bad neighborhoods are characterized by sonic cues such as shouts over windows. Students understand “being ghetto” as being loud in a peculiar way, and use loudness as a central resource in their boundary work. Loudness is read as a performative index of class and ethnicity, and the performance of middle-class studentship entails being appalled by stigmatized sonic practices and participating in their exoticization. However, the sonic is not merely yet another resource of boundary-work. Paying sociological attention to senses other than vision reveals complex interactions between structures anchored in the body, structures anchored in language, and actors' identification strategies, which may refine theorizations of the body and the senses in social theory.
This article explores transformations in Israel's ethno-class structure, the social boundaries used to exclude and evaluate others, and the language available to Israelis for the representation of these boundaries. The main argument is that in the last few decades Israeli society has undergone a process of classing: class-based symbolic and social boundaries are increasingly salient at the expense of weakening ethnic boundaries. However, this transformation has not been accompanied by the emergence of a discourse on class identity. Thus, the old ethnic categories have been loaded with new layers of meaning and are increasingly used metaphorically to designate class. That is, when Israelis use ethnic categories, they often mean class. Examples drawn from the research literature demonstrate that the word "Ashkenazi" is now frequently used metaphorically to signify a middle-class lifestyle and middle-class culture. Consequently, the rising Mizrahi middle class is constructed as an inherently inauthentic deviation. Hishtaknezut ("Ashkenazification") is thus not a pattern of "passing" performance – cultural mimicry aimed at assimilation in the unmarked group – but rather the discursive effect of labeling directed at the rising Mizrahi middle class, based on the assumed incongruence between their class and ethnicity. As the case of "Ashkenazification" demonstrates, in late modern cultures the recognition of authenticity is crucial for the attribution of social worth. Critical sociology should thus explore inequality in the recognition of authenticity of different ethnic groups and the injustices it produces.
Sounds and sonic norms and regimes characterize both spaces/territories and individual bodies. This article explores the meanings of and reactions to Arab sounds in Israel – political struggles over muezzins, stereotypical representations of Israeli Palestinians as loud, and so on – in order to offer general insights into the role of the sonic (both actual sounds and their discursive representations) in the new ‘cultural’ racism, in the everyday ethnicized experience of one's body, and in shaping relations between ethnic and national groups.
How does digitization reshape people’s engagement with their past? As ever more moments and interactions are objectified as digital data (photos, e-mail, instant messaging protocols) stored in digital archives that are constantly available and used intensively as memory aids, people’s engagement with their past is increasingly mediated by databases and algorithms. The article explores how the non-narrative, paradigmatic structure of the database then remoulds memory. More specifically, it is suggested that once encounters of people with representations of the past from their personal archives are mediated by search and sorting algorithms, memories lose their status as docile objects. When memory objects can appear in unexpected places and times, their agency qua memory actants can no longer be blackboxed. Rather than relations of possession, people then have neighbourly relations with the memory objects that populate their digital environments.
How do late-modern people morally evaluate behavior in emotionally-laden situations? To answer this question, a cultural sociology of morality should explore both cultural contents and social contexts that inform their employment. The article studies how Israelis ethically evaluate loud mourning performances. In line with ‘moral polytheist’ repertoire theories, it identifies three moral logics available to them, which are typical of late-modern morality: the authenticity, self-control and therapeutic ethics. I explain why some of these logics may be used flexibly to support contradictory claims, whereas others prescribe their usage. I also explore what constrains choice within the repertoire. While moral judgment is internally structured by cultural structures (moral logics), its application is informed by social structure: as moral evaluation of others is always self-definitional, it is shaped in relation to self-identifications, boundary drawing and stereotype threats. Finally, contrary to Boltanski and Thévenot's On Justification, I suggest that people do not always strive to achieve virtuosity in any single moral world, but also seek to avoid moral worthlessness in all moral worlds simultaneously. Studying the interaction between cultural codes (the moral/discursive structures of critique and justification) and social structures (in relation to which identification claims are made) may enhance our understanding of lay morality.
Tourist experiences are not merely visual but multisensory. When considering the sounds of nature, tourists often have conflicting preferences regarding the appropriate and desired soundscape. The article explores these preferences and how they relate to different ways of engagement with nature, each having its own historical roots, agents and social meanings; each focused on different affordances of nature and demanding different prerequisites. Interviews with Israeli visitors of nature sites show that what they consider ‘noise’ depends on their social (class/ethnic) identification, but also on the mode of touristic engagement they employ. Thus, tourists who render themselves subject to nature’s therapeutic, aesthetic or spiritual influence have very different sensitivity to human-made sounds than those who consider nature a stage for social or physical activity.
The ‘new’ sociology of culture has provided us with valuable insights regarding the performative, corporeal, and unpredictable dimensions of art tasting, which the ‘old’, critical sociology of art failed to recognize. But how can we profit from these insights without committing the sin of the denial of the social (and social structures in particular)? This article suggests that these insights may be incorporated into the critical sociology of art once we are ready to substitute reified tasting techniques for reified tastes as our main objects of study. Relying on works in anthropology, philosophy, history and neuroscience, I urge us to put tasting techniques at the heart of our research agenda in cultural sociology. This will enable us to simultaneously give full account of the subjective, unique art-tasting experiences which are informed by specific tasting techniques, as well as of the role the same techniques play in social reproduction and social closure.
The article discusses a set of emerging techno-social practices that transform interpersonal interactions into acts of production of valuable, durable objects such as SNS-posts and videos. These practices rely on (and enhance) a new attentiveness towards the world (including social interactions, communication and quasi-autotelic activities) as Bestand/resource, from which value may be extracted. The rise of these practices and modes of attention obviously relies on new production and dissemination of technological infrastructures, but it also relies on and contributes to the evolution of hyperrational subjectivity, which is compatible with the demands of late-modern economies. Like corporations, ordinary people come to view leisure time interpersonal interactions as sites for the extraction of (often non-monetary) value through their objectification. The article demonstrates how the objectification and productivization of events remoulds both common everyday practices and extreme forms of criminality, all sharing a common cultural logic.
Fragments of mundane social life are increasingly filmed/photographed and published online, being made accessible to wide and unexpected audiences. This makes impression-management harder, but doesn't bring forth a total disciplining panopticism. Not only is photography collectively regulated by moral agency, sometimes it is also used by people to resist (or cope with) oppressive power and struggle over power. In some senses, this new regime-of-visibility even increases social equality. Foucault's statement that 'visibility is a trap' has great analytic purchase, yet it shows only part of the picture.
The article investigates the shift of much interpersonal communication from phone or face-to-face interaction to Instant Messaging, especially among teenagers. This objectification of conversation enabled changes in myriad social practices, as well as in regimes of intimacy and truth: New, invisible audiences are introduced to hitherto intimate situations for real-time consultations; intimacy, traditionally based on exclusivity in access to events and information, has to be reshaped under the new conditions as “network intimacy”; formerly separate events collapse into new frames, challenging traditional temporal sequencing of sociability; conversations are imbued with performativities of different sorts; and proof and evidence are introduced into interpersonal sphere where they weren't common before.