By David Harris

An creation to present debates round the subject matters of tradition, id and way of life. Such debates usually commence with the statement that we are living in a "society of signs". good points contain: precis and significant dialogue of a few simple techniques in social conception and cultural research; key readings of a few of the paintings of writers together with Barthes and Giddens; stories of labor in additional conventional parts, for instance, the sociology of identification and the embedding strategy present in social existence; and recommendation on extra studying.

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In this spirit ‘resistance’ can mean anything from thoroughgoing critical analysis of a cultural object using Marxist categories, to the rather less spectacular ability to view Jurassic Park and remain unmoved by the special effects. Although there is no time to review it in depth here, the ambiguities are well displayed in material that attempts to describe the school cultures of black youths or of young women as exhibiting ‘resistance within accommodation’, to incorporate both the apparently rebellious and the apparently conformist observed behaviour of those groups within the one all-embracing account of ‘hegemonic domination’ (see, for example, Mac an Ghaill, in Woods and Hammersley 1993).

Finally, Giddens’s work points to, even if it does not solve to everyone’s satisfaction, the major problem with alternative theories and metaphors too, we shall suggest: their own inability to produce or account for concrete social practices from general theories, except by glosses, ‘bolt-ons’ or literary tropes. 33 2 The politics of cultural autonomy The issue of the extent of cultural autonomy can now be approached as a topic in its own right, so to speak. For many of us, cultural activities do seem to be relatively free of social constraint.

Can the social origins of an idea or practice still be traced through processes like inversion or parody or inter-textual reference that we have mentioned, and, even if so, are those origins still active, so to speak, in the determination of meaning? 35 THE POLITICS OF CULTURAL AUTONOMY THE SHIFT FROM REPRESENTATION TO SIGNIFICATION In this section, we can begin to explore some possibilities via a discussion of some concrete examples. One theme which emerges is the role of the specialist in moving cultural forms towards a greater level of autonomy from the social contexts in which they might have originated.

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