New Perspectives in Culture and Cognition

A Seminar by Vanina Leschziner (University of Toronto):


Culture and Cognition is a relatively new area in Sociology, but one that has grown exponentially in the past few years. It is not simply the sum of its two parts (i.e., some culture and some cognition). Rather, the area is defined by relatively specific conceptual interests, analytical frameworks and methodological approaches to the study of culture and cognition as phenomena that are observable in their association at a social level, and are therefore subject to systematic study.

As an area of study, Culture and Cognition is associated with the Sociology of Culture. But it has a specific set of analytical concerns that make it clearly distinct from the larger subfield. Scholars in Culture and Cognition are interested in studying the relationship between cognitive patterns, cultural configurations, and social relations. Unlike the broader Sociology of Culture, the area of Culture and Cognition focuses on the workings of the mind (and sometimes the body), seeking to understand how cognitive processes shape actors’ perceptions, thinking, decision-making, actions, and social relations. Scholars in this area utilize a variety of methods (including qualitative, quantitative, experimental, and computational) to empirically investigate how culture and cognition interrelate to shape social arrangements.
This seminar will provide an overview of the topics, theories, and perspectives that inform current research in Culture and Cognition. However, the main goal of the seminar is not simply to acquire knowledge of the scholarship produced in the area, but rather to explore, debate, and ultimately gain a better understanding of what culture and cognition are and how they operate.

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