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In this important new book Rein Raud develops an original theory of culture understood as a loose and internally contradictory system of texts and practices that are shared by intermittent groups of people and used by them to make sense of their life-worlds. This theory views culture simultaneously in two ways: as a world of texts, tangible and shareable products of signifying acts, and as a space of practices, repeatable activities that produce, disseminate and interpret these clusters of meaning. Both approaches are developed into corresponding models of culture which, used together, are able to provide a rich understanding of any meaning in action.
In developing this innovative theory, Raud draws on a wide range of disciplines, from anthropology, sociology and cultural studies to semiotics and philosophy. The theory is illustrated throughout with examples drawn from both high and popular culture, and from Western and Asian traditions, dealing with both contemporary and historical topics. The book concludes with two case studies from very different contexts - one dealing with Italian poetry in the 13th century, the other dealing with the art scene in Eastern Europe in the 1990s.
This timely and original work makes a major new contribution to the theory of culture and will be welcomed by students and scholars throughout the social sciences and humanities.
About the Author
Rein Raud is Professor of Japanese Studies at the University of Helsinki.