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Cultural civility and cultural barbarism : a sociological analysis of the religious factor in Australian cultural tastes


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Aarons, HM 2008 , 'Cultural civility and cultural barbarism : a sociological analysis of the religious factor in Australian cultural tastes', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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This thesis examines the influence of religion on cultural taste patterns in
Australia in the 1990's. Many extant studies in this field concentrate heavily on
class and economic factors involved in the distribution of cultural taste through
conflict and stratification models and place a marked emphasis on the utility of
cultural taste in attaining social and economic position. Emergent empirical
evidence suggests that class and economic factors are only partially relevant in
explaining cultural taste patterns in Australia and internationally, however.
Consequently there has been a dearth of alternate theorising of culture as a key
concept in sociology to accommodate other potential influences on its
consumption such as religion. This thesis theorises cultural taste as a moral
problem and situates religion as a powerful aspect of cultural structure through
which Australians construct cultural taste by assessing levels of "civility" and
"barbarism" inherent in the expressive elements of cultural forms and genres. This
study draws on the work of Norbert Elias in establishing a theoretical framework
for the conceptualisation of culture as a moral problem through its function of
emotional arousal in societies characterised by "routinization" and uses a binary
scale format of moral conceptualisation and classification that codifies cultural
taste as symbolically "civil" and symbolically "barbaric". The emotional arousal
afforded by culture is controlled through institutional and self regulating systems,
of which religion is one.
Religion, in this study, is confined to various types of Christianity in Australia.
Patterns of cultural taste between religious and non-religious Australians and
among the religious themselves are compared to reveal variation in the
distribution of cultural taste. Religion is then tested against a range of social
background experiences to assess its predictive power as a factor in the moral
approach to cultural taste.
The thesis hypothesises that the religious will construct cultural taste to display
"symbolic civility" and avoid "symbolic barbarism" due to religion's role of
emotional regulator within cultural practice. The study reveals the continuing role
of institutional religion in contexts of late modernity and how the religious
negotiate this aspect of secular life. It also highlights the nature of religious
difference within Australian Christianity through cultural taste. The broader
significance of the study is to provide alternate conceptualisations of culture that
can be explored through various social and cultural elements to further open the
inquiry into culture to reflect the diverse and continually changing nature of
identity and meaning in contexts of late modernity.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Aarons, HM
Keywords: Religion and civil society, Religion and civilization, Civilization, Communities
Copyright Holders: The Author
Additional Information:

Available for library use only and copying in accordance with the Copyright Act 1968, as amended. Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 2008. Includes bibliographical references. Ch. 1. Literature review -- Ch. 2. The moral dimension of taste: a model of religion and cultural consumption -- Ch. 3. Methods, measures and analysis -- Ch. 4. Culture as a moral problem, Australian approaches to mimetic culture, religion and civility -- Ch. 5. A comparison of religious and non-religious approaches to mimetic culture: attitudinal constructions of cultural civility and cultural barbarism -- Ch. 6. Bivariate analyses of eight scales of mimetic culture by religious variables -- Ch. 7. Religion, culture and social background: an exploratory analysis -- Ch. 8. Conclusion.

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