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23 MARCH 2013

Toward a Theory of Social Practices: A development in culturalist theorizing

"This article works out the main characteristics of 'practice theory', a type of social theory which has been sketched by such authors as Bourdieu, Giddens, Taylor, late Foucault and others. Practice theory is presented as a conceptual alternative to other forms of social and cultural theory, above all to culturalist mentalism, textualism and intersubjectivism. The article shows how practice theory and the three other cultural–theoretical vocabularies differ in their localization of the social and in their conceptualization of the body, mind, things, knowledge, discourse, structure/process and the agent."

(Andreas Reckwitz, 2002)

Andreas Reckwitz (2002). "Toward a Theory of Social Practices: A Development in Culturalist Theorizing", European Journal of Social Theory; Vol.5, No.2; pp. 243–263 DOI: 10.1177/13684310222225432 []


2002 • Andreas Reckwitz • Anthony Giddens • background practices • bodily engagementbodyCharles Taylor • conceptual alternative • conceptualisation • cultural-theoretical vocabularies • culturalist mentalism • culturediscoursediscourse and practice • European Journal of Social Theory • interpersonal interactions • intersubjectivism • knowledge • mental representations • Michel Foucaultmindmind and bodyPierre Bourdieu • practice theory • shared understandingsocial agency • social and cultural life • social and cultural theory • social theory • textualism • theory of things • things


Simon Perkins
21 MAY 2011

Communication Design: defined, standardised, professionally certified?

"So now there's yet someone else adding to the pile of what they feel is 'the' definition, when it's really just 'their' definition. I have mine, Bass has his. Rand had his. I bet Armin has his. Bierut, Scher, Danziger,, Bantjes has hers, and the list goes on an on and each definition (as well as the 'definitive' term) is always different, in semantics at least. The philosophy itself varies somewhat less, but it's no less tragic.

This should be a call, loud and clear within our industry, for certification and standardization."

(Michael Holdren, 18 April 2008, comment at Tiny Gigantic)

Holdren, M. (18 April 2008). "A comment replying to 'Communication design, the definitive definition.'" Retrieved 21 May 2011, 2011, from–design–the–definitive–definition/#comment–27369.

[Michael Holdren attacks Josh Kamler's effort to define 'communication design' as a singularly identifiable discursive field (Kamler, 17 April 2008). In doing so Holdren criticises the effort for being simply a personal definition. This is an appropriate critique given that Kamler fails to draw on available literature in the field. In his comment Holdren calls for communication design to be defined through its standardisation and professional certification. In Basil Bernstein's terms this can be understood as a call for regulation through 'strongly classified singulars'. While this might appear logical from a professional perspective both efforts must be seen as being misguided because they ignore the essential character of communication design. Both efforts are attempts to stall the process of 'disciplinary recontextualisation' which continues to form and reshape the boundaries of communication design and which provides its essential utility as a means for adapting to change.]

Kamler, J. (17 April 2008). "Communication design, the definitive definition." Retrieved 21 May 2011, 2011, from–design–the–definitive–definition/.



Armin Hofmann • certificationclassificationcommunication designdisciplinary classificationdiscourseJosh Kamler • Language in Common (website) • Louis Danziger • Marian Bantjes • Michael Bierut • Michael Holdren • mutablePaul RandPaula Scher • personal definition • porous boundariesprofessional association for designprofessional certificationrecontextualisationrecontextualisation of knowledgeregionalisation of knowledge • regionalised discourse • regulationSaul BasssingularsstandardisationTiny Gigantic (website)


Simon Perkins
12 MARCH 2011

Scientists revise their criteria of rationality as they enter new domains

"The conventional model of science, technology and society locates sources of violence in politics and ethics, that is, in the application of science and technology, not in scientific knowledge itself.

The fact–value dichotomy is a creation of modern, reductionist science which, while being an epistemic response to a particular set of values, claims to be independent of values. According to the received view, modern science is the discovery of the properties of nature in accordance with a 'scientific method' which generates 'objective', 'neutral', 'universal' knowledge. This view of modern science as a description of reality as it is, unprejudiced by value, can be rejected on at least four grounds.

All knowledge, including modern scientific knowledge, is built through the use of a plurality of methodologies. As Feyerabend observes:

There is no 'scientific method'; there is no single procedure, or set of rules that underlines every piece of research and guarantees that it is 'scientific' and, therefore, trustworthy. The idea of a universal and stable method that is an unchanging measure of adequacy and even the idea of a universal and stable rationality is as unrealistic as the idea of a universal and stable measuring instrument that measures any magnitude, no matter what the circumstances. Scientists revise their standards, their procedures, their criteria of rationality as they move along and perhaps entirely replace their theories and their instruments as they move along and enter new domains of research (Feyerband, 1978, p. 98).

The view that science is just a discovery of facts about nature does not get support from philosophy either. If scientific knowledge is assumed to give true, factual knowledge of 'reality as it is', then we would have to 'conclude that Newtonian theory was true until around 1900, after which it suddenly became false, while relativity and quantum theories became the truth' (Bohm, 1981, p. 4)."

(Vandana Shiva, 1990)

1). Shiva, V. (1990). 'Reductionist science as epistemological violence'. 'Science, Hegemony and Violence: A Requiem for Modernity'. A. Nandy, Oxford University Press: 314.

Paul Feyerabend, Science in a Free Society (London: New Left Books, 1978).

David Bohm, Wholeness and the Implicate Order (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1981).


analytical thinkingCartesiancultural valuesdescription of realitydiscoursediscoverydiscursive fieldepistemologyethicsfactual knowledgehierarchy of legitimacyIsaac Newtonknowledge • logical-analytical • logical-analytical paradigmmeasuring instrument • model of science • Modernmodern science • modern scientific knowledge • myth of neutralityobjectiveobjective reality • Paul Feyerband • plurality of methodologies • positivismproperties of naturerationalityreductionism • reductionist science • researchresearch methodsciencescientific knowledgescientific method • scientific options • sociology • stable knowledge • stable rationality • theorytraditiontrust • trustworthy • truthuniversal • universal knowledge • universal methoduniversal rationalityVandana Shiva


Simon Perkins
28 APRIL 2010

An assemblage of connecting parts that defies traditional climactic and dissipative character

"The complexities already evident in L'anti–oedipe are compounded by Deleuze and Guattari's deliberate refusal to propose a central narrative or theme for the book [A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia]. They refer to the sections in Mille plateaux as 'plateaus', a term they derived from the anthropological work of Gregory Bateson. Bateson had used the term to describe the libidinal economy he found in Bali, which differed from that in the West, with its emphasis on climax. Deleuze and Guattari intended that the sections of their book should not reproduce the climactic and dissipative character of Western discourse, as manifested in the traditional book format with its culminations and terminations. They hoped rather that each plateau would operate as part of an assemblage of connecting parts to be approached by the reader in whichever order they chose. As this might suggest Mille plateaux is a complex and difficult book, though, at the same time, extraordinarily compelling."

(Charlie Gere)

Gere, Charlie. 2002 'Digital Culture' Reaktion Books. ISBN 1861891431 1861891431 (pbk.)



anthropologyassemblage • Bali • bookbook formatCharlie Gere • climactic • climax • connecting parts • constellationscontingencycritical theorydiscoursediscursive field • dissipative • Félix GuattariGilles DeleuzeGregory BatesonIndonesia • L'anti-oedipe • libidinalnarrativeordering • plateau • plateaus • postmodernismstructurethemetraditionWestern


Simon Perkins
28 MAY 2009

cultural omnivorousness and awareness of the contestability of judgments

"University education it seems has exposed people to awareness of the contestability of judgments about taste which make them probably more adventurous, less up–tight, less worried that they might make a social faux pas by commending as worthy an item beyond the pale of legitimate culture. It should also probably increase access to more varied cultural experience and the sense that this kind of experience is a good thing, which is an equally important basis for future cultural engagement. The relative lack of confidence in our younger omnivores suggests that there is some norm which says that to be properly culturally competent one should indeed have a wide knowledge of cultural types, and that these are things which can be discovered through experience or, in the case of the London–based, non–graduate omnivore absorbed through the everyday life of the metropolitan centre. This is a form of omnivorousness informed by a tentative curiosity involved in learning what it is to be middle–class and developing positions and preferences which appear to be proper and correct."
(Alan Warde, David Wright, Modesto Gayo–Cal, Tony Bennett, Elizabeth Silva,
Mike Savage, p.20, University of Manchester and Open University, UK)

[Paper delivered to the European Sociological Association Conference, Torun, Poland, September 2005, Working Group on the Sociology of Consumption]


2005 • contestable • contextcritiquecultural codescultural engagement • cultural omnivore • cultural signalsdiscoursediscursive fieldeducation • European Sociological Association Conference • experienceknowledgelearningPolandsocial constructionismsocial interactionsociologytaste (sociology) • Torun • understandinguniversity


Simon Perkins

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