Perhaps more so than at any other time this century, cultural analysis lies at the center of the human sciences. Written both for the specialist and for scholars in a variety of disciplines, these essays explore the revolution which has taken place over the last twenty-five years in our understanding of contemporary culture, and decodes a number of the symbols which now dominate public life.
Wuthnow divides the essays collected here into three distinct “vocabularies” Part I examines the ways in which religious and scientific languages function as vocabularies of conviction in public life, Part II focuses on music and art as vocabularies of expression, and Part III considers law, ideology, and public policy as vocabularies of persuasion. The contributors discuss such diverse subjects as American spiritualism, the syntax of modern dance, and the social context of number one songs. What unifies the book is the common concern with the concrete, everyday manifestations of culture and the importance of understanding its basic structure.
Robert Wuthnow is Professor of Sociology at Princeton University.