Interview (audio) with Tony Bennett on his new book “Making Culture, Changing Society”


[Re-blogged from New Books in Critical Theory]
 Interview with Tony Bennett [ 1:03:04 ] Hide Player | Play in Popup | Download
In his new book Making Culture, Changing Society (Routledge, 2013), Professor Tony Bennett aims to change the way we think about culture. The book uses four core ideas about the nature and meaning of culture to present a view that does not see culture as just a set of signs and symbols. Rather culture is a form of knowledge practice, bound up with material conditions and institutions, which is implicated in the production of persons and freedoms. Making Culture, Changing Society justifies this view of culture in two ways. In the first instance the book considers how specific humanities disciplines, associated with anthropology and aesthetics, have been used to distribute ideas of freedom and ideas of the person within liberal government. Bennett uses examples from anthropological studies of colonial societies, along with discussions of the role of aesthetics for theorists such as Pierre Bourdieu, to show the function of culture and its interdependence with forms of knowledge. At the same time the book insists on the material aspects of these discussions, using the example of Melbourne’s National Museum of Victoria and Paris’ Musee de l’Homme.
The book offers an important intervention into debates on culture and public policy, grounding questions of rights and representations within the historical project of liberal government. Moreover it develops a critique of the assumptions surrounding culture as a potentially positive or beneficial force for social change, raising profound questions for public, politics and policy.

New article: ‘What’s on your mind?’ Writing on Facebook as a tool for self-formation

Theresa Sauter
New Media and Society
Published online before print July 8, 2013, doi: 10.1177/1461444813495160


In the context of modern western psychologised, techno-social hybrid realities, where individuals are incited constantly to work on themselves and perform their self-development in public, the use of online social networking sites (SNSs) can be conceptualised as what Foucault has described as a ‘technique of self’. This article explores examples of status updates on Facebook to reveal that writing on Facebook is a tool for self-formation with historical roots. Exploring examples of self-writing from the past, and considering some of the continuities and discontinuities between these age-old practices and their modern translations, provides a non-technologically deterministic and historically aware way of thinking about the use of new media technologies in modern societies that understands them to be more than mere tools for communication.

For Foucault enthusiasts

There are some great resources on the Open Culture website including free lecture recordings by Foucault from his last years at UC Berkeley, video material, podcasts and other neat things. Go check it out:


Some useful and funny reads on academic practice

Hi fellow Cultural Sociology enthusiasts,

we have curated a few reads for you around effective academic practice and the perks and pitfalls of being in academia. We hope you’ll find them useful. (If you don’t want to read them all, at least check out nr. 4.  Promise you will chuckle and be able to relate to at least some of these…!)

1. Tending your Ideas Garden – a blogpost on the new Digital Sociology blog by the BSA that reminds us to scrapbook all our ideas as we may find use in them later on. A little bit like the ancient Greek practice of self-writing, using a hypomnemata, explored by Foucault as a technique of self, perhaps…

2. Making Time Not to Think – Making sure we schedule down-time into our busy, busy routines and create spaces for not-thinking – and often that’s when you have your best ideas! Again comparable to another ancient practice of self: meditation. Practicing self-care through techniques of self, as Foucault described it (see e.g. Foucault, 1986; 2005).

3. Deborah Lupton’s 30 tips for successful academic research and writing – some useful tips that go through things like planning a research schedule, making a start, being efficient and connecting with others for inspiration.

4. Finally, 21 Things academics hate – just for a laugh…! Let us know which ones you can relate to most.

Have you got any other useful articles or your own tips to share? Let us know in the comments

Foucault, M. (1986) The Care of the Self: The History of Sexuality, Vol. 3. New York: Random House.
Foucault, M. (2005) The Hermeneutics of the Subject – Lectures at the Collège de France 1981-1982. New York: Picador.