9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN07 Sociology of Culture

2009-09-05 15:30:00 2009-09-05 17:00:00 Saturday, 5 September 15:30 - 17:00 Old and New Individualisms II Building II, C4.07

Individualistic Metaphors in Conflict: Controversies of the Authorship Perception in Contemporary University

The "cultural turn" has given birth to several theoretical and methodological dilemmas in sociology. One of the most important among them is the ontological status of cultural matters or, in other words, the problem of "cultural autonomy". Proceeding from theses of the "strong program of cultural sociology" which denies explanations of culture by means of something separated of meaning realm, this paper moves to the concrete social object analysis, namely contemporary university as one of the corner stones of the European cultural identity.

The idea of the autonomy of culture implies giving sociological accounts to the inner logic of cultural matters. The sociological reconstruction of social life root metaphors is seen as a methodological solution suitable for this purpose. Root metaphor organizes meanings of social life, providing social actors with clear evidence of the "order of things" and shading light on what is right and what is wrong. Meanings which contradict inner logic of the metaphor engender "uncertainty" and thus are perceived as "impure" and marked with strong negative emotions (anger, aversion, misunderstanding, etceteras). These emotions are empirically observable in contrast to metaphors. That's why to reconstruct root metaphors of social life we have to detect and analyze conflicts.

This paper examines two sets of university life root metaphors based on case-study analysis of actual conflict of intuitions in the university practice. The conflict concerns different perceptions of authorship and plagiarism prohibition. One set of metaphors relates to classical university models, and the other one characterizes economy-oriented models of education. Both are in close relation to the Enlightenment, modernity and individualism, but in different way. Contradictions come to light within the bounds of authorship perception and the problem of substance of text. The first set of metaphors issues from the ancient understanding of the sacred substance of the authorship/authority (going back to Latin verb "augeo"), as well as Romanticism accentuation of the originality and uniqueness of the text. The second one, on the contrary, relativizes the substance of the text from the point of instrumental rationality. In a wider sense it takes shape of Weberian conflict of formal and substantial rationalities.