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Symbolic action and constraint: the cultural logic of the 2017 UK General Election

Symbolic action and constraint: the cultural logic of the 2017 UK General Election This paper examines the influence of both the agential and structural aspects of culture on the 2017 UK General Election. The empirical section of the paper is organised around three aspects of the Labour campaign narrative: its promise to provide a national ‘alternative’, its mobilisation of Corbyn as simultaneously an individual and an icon, and its use of rallies and social media as alternative stages from which to project its meanings. It identifies the material conditioning, coding and counter-coding, narrativisation and counter-narrativisation of key events, issues, and figures, demonstrating how the substantive contestation of the campaign occurred within a consensual formal grammar that constrained symbolic action and often produced consequences unintended by cultural workers themselves. It, therefore, demonstrates how culture retained a relative autonomy in influencing meaning outcomes in part due to its formal semiotic logic. It introduces the notion of ‘code-rerouting’ to cultural sociology’s stock of conceptual tools and highlights how failure to conform to the structuring norms of civil rituals, such as presenting oneself to public scrutiny during a campaign, or failure to project coherence between surface and depth, individual and icon, past and present, or between private and public can prove fatal to performative felicity. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png American Journal of Cultural Sociology Springer Journals

Symbolic action and constraint: the cultural logic of the 2017 UK General Election

American Journal of Cultural Sociology , Volume OnlineFirst – Feb 15, 2021

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited part of Springer Nature 2021
ISSN
2049-7113
eISSN
2049-7121
DOI
10.1057/s41290-021-00129-y
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This paper examines the influence of both the agential and structural aspects of culture on the 2017 UK General Election. The empirical section of the paper is organised around three aspects of the Labour campaign narrative: its promise to provide a national ‘alternative’, its mobilisation of Corbyn as simultaneously an individual and an icon, and its use of rallies and social media as alternative stages from which to project its meanings. It identifies the material conditioning, coding and counter-coding, narrativisation and counter-narrativisation of key events, issues, and figures, demonstrating how the substantive contestation of the campaign occurred within a consensual formal grammar that constrained symbolic action and often produced consequences unintended by cultural workers themselves. It, therefore, demonstrates how culture retained a relative autonomy in influencing meaning outcomes in part due to its formal semiotic logic. It introduces the notion of ‘code-rerouting’ to cultural sociology’s stock of conceptual tools and highlights how failure to conform to the structuring norms of civil rituals, such as presenting oneself to public scrutiny during a campaign, or failure to project coherence between surface and depth, individual and icon, past and present, or between private and public can prove fatal to performative felicity.

Journal

American Journal of Cultural SociologySpringer Journals

Published: Feb 15, 2021

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