chapter  1
24 Pages

Cultural explanation and the question of intergroup life

WithEvandro Camara

This chapter presents debates on the persistently ambiguous nature of the concepts of "society" and "culture," and acknowledges the problematic character of the assumption, common in mainstream social science, that society and culture are rigidly separate unitary totalities. The nature of intergroup relations and inequality varies significantly across multiethnic or pluralist societies, a phenomenon that has constituted a matter of long-standing and lively sociological interest. The approach emphasized may be termed a culturalist one, in the sense that its point of departure is the concern with and focus on cultural forces and cultural change, and how these elements affect the larger architecture of integroup life. In any given pluralist society, the dominant patterns of culture will afford insights into the manner in which that society has handled the incorporation of its formative groups. The idea of culture is thematized specifically in terms of a tripartite model comprising interrelated aspects, or "moments," of the larger assimilative process.