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Janet Wolff

Related: culture - sociology - postmodernism

Janet Wolff - "Cultural Studies and the Sociology of Culture

It is almost exactly ten years since I came to the United States from Britain, and exactly seven since I came to Rochester as Director of the Program in Visual and Cultural Studies. It is time to reflect on my complicated relationship to the discipline of sociology. And when I say that it is time, I don't mean this biographically, but more in relation to recent intellectual developments within both sociology and cultural studies, as well as to the (mostly) antagonistic relationship between the two, at least in this country. In my opinion, cultural studies at its best is sociological. And yet, in the continuing cross-disciplinary dialogue that has characterized the field of cultural studies in the decade or so of its progress in the United States, the discipline of sociology has been notably absent. At the same time, within the field of sociology, the study of culture has expanded enormously in the last twenty years among sociologists of culture, and among those who have more recently been calling themselves 'cultural sociologists,' which is not the same thing. Some of these sociologists have themselves adopted the term "cultural studies" to describe their work, thereby both claiming (mistakenly, as I shall suggest) to have pre-empted the newer field, and ignoring the possibility of a productive encounter with cultural studies in general and with related developments in the study of culture in the humanities.

Within the past couple of years, this has begun to change, and I will be reviewing some of the newer work that begins to bridge the hitherto radical divide between sociology and cultural studies. My primary intention here is to point to the advantages that will ensue if sociologists enter into the interdisciplinary dialogue that constitutes the ever-changing field of cultural studies. -- http://www.rochester.edu/in_visible_culture/issue1/wolff/wolff.html

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