- Gerard Goggin proposes an approach based on the ‘Circuit of Culture’;
“ Culture is not merely reflective or expressive of other processes, rather ‘culture is now regarded as being constitutive of the social world as economic or political processes’ “(du Gay et al. 1997:2)
- The task of understanding culture is therefore a necessary undertaking for understanding social practices and process
“ The production of social meaning is therefore a necessary precondition for the functioning of all social practices and an account of the cultural conditions of social practices must form part of the sociological explanation of how they work. Cultural description and analysis is therefore increasingly crucial to the production of sociological knowledge. “ (ibid)
du Gay et al study of the Sonny Walkman, as a ‘typical cultural artifact and a medium of modern culture.’ through the model of the ‘circuit of culture’ – “analysis the biography of a cultural artifact in terms of a theoretical model based on the articulation of a number of distinct processes whose interaction can and does lead to variable and contingent outcomes” (ibid)
Articulation - process by which particular classes appropriate cultural forms and practices for their own use (Gramsci)
“… form of the connection that can make a unity of two or more different or distinct elements, under certain conditions. It is a linkage which is not necessary , determined or absolute and essential for all time: rather it is a linkage whose conditions of existence or emergence need to be located in the contingencies of circumstance. “ (Hall 1996:3)
'there are no wholly separate "cultures"...attached, in a relation of historical fixity, to specific "whole" classes'. However, "while elements of culture are not directly, eternally, or exclusively tied to specific economically determined factors such as class position, they are determined in the final instance by such factors, through the operation of articulating principles which are tied to class position’ (Hall 1996)
du Gay et al study of the walkman through five major interlinked processes:
‘ The Sony Walkman is not only part of our culture, it posses a distinctive “culture” of its own’
“… It is cultural because it is associated with certain kinds of people…with certain places… - because it has been given or acquired a social profile or identity…indeed , the image of the Sony walkman - sleek high teck, function in design, miniaturized - has become a sort of metaphor which stands for or represents a distinctively late-modern, technological culture or way of life. To study the Sony Walkman ‘culturaly’ is therefore, in part, to use as a clue to the study of modern culture in general.
Semiotics is the study of signs, both individually and grouped in sign systems.
The American philosopher and semiotician Charles S. Peirce defines a sign as “something that stands for something, to somebody, in some respect or capacity”
- based on one of Ferdinand de Saussure’s fundamental insights that the meanings of signs are arrived at arbitrary via cultural conventions. The study of semiotics generalizes the definition of a sign to encompass signs in any medium or sensory modality and thus broadens the definition of language to widest analogical or metaphorical sense.