Cultural Theory and the Public Benefit Requirement

WB of Down at Third Man asked for a Cultural Theory perspective on the concept of ‘public benefit’ as it applies to the charitable working of private schools in the UK. Would you be willing and able to give me your view on how the four cultures would perceive 'public benefit' say with regard to … Continue reading Cultural Theory and the Public Benefit Requirement

Equality and Hierarchy in Denmark

Hedeby, probable site of the first school in Denmark Further reflections on the concept of horizontal and vertical teaching methods. A recent edition of the journal Social Analysis (55.2, 2011) is entirely devoted to the contrast between hierarchical and egalitarian pressures on Danish Society. The introduction begins with a discussion of the work of the … Continue reading Equality and Hierarchy in Denmark

Four types of institutional control

This diagram comes from a book edited by Christopher Hood (et al.) It shows how contrived randomness can be seen as a method of social control in public institutions (Hood et al. 2004:8). As mentioned in a Fourcultures post on how to beat the odds and escape your fate, Hood wrote: “Contrived randomness denotes control … Continue reading Four types of institutional control

Half the cheese or double the cheese? Why not have both?

Health experts warn against the excessive consumption of saturated fats. At the same time industry marketing groups come up with novel campaigns to increase consumption. The role of government, often, is to mediate between these two contrasting positions. The New York Times reports on a great example in which the same government department promotes cheese … Continue reading Half the cheese or double the cheese? Why not have both?

Excommunicating Women priests

Just about to write something about the recent restatement of the Catholic Church's opposition to the ordination of women - I realised, effectively, I already had. Add only this: it's not actually very easy to be excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church. Few people have ever met anyone who has been (militant atheists have been … Continue reading Excommunicating Women priests

Acknowledging our own biases

Writing in Risk and Blame: Essays on Cultural Theory,  anthropologist and sociologist Mary Douglas expressed the importance of recognising one's own biases, the importance of reflexivity. 'My own preference has emerged as an idealized form of hierarchy. This has always given me to some degree the professional advantage of feeling out of kilter with the … Continue reading Acknowledging our own biases

Fortify your group with religious belief! Homing in on the God Gene

“Groups fortified by religious belief would have prevailed over those that lacked it, and genes that prompted the mind toward ritual would eventually have become universal.” An article in the New York Times, In Search of the God Gene, flies a kite for religion as an evolutionary benefit. But it takes a very particular view … Continue reading Fortify your group with religious belief! Homing in on the God Gene

The decline and fall of declining and falling

Edward Gibbon made a famous claim in chapter 3 of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire that “If a man were called to fix the period in the history of the world, during which the condition of the human race was most happy and prosperous, he would, without hesitation, name … Continue reading The decline and fall of declining and falling

Beware – Dangerous Robots!

Dan Kahan of the Cultural Cognition Project has been thinking about the possible ways of reacting to robots that kill. It's a relatively new set of technologies, but what happens when AI merges with weaponry to produce robots that want to kill you? He thinks the arguments could go in several ways and I tend … Continue reading Beware – Dangerous Robots!