Hermeneutic culturalism and its double: a key problem in the reflexive modernization debate

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Strydom, Piet
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Proceeding from the debate opened by Beck, Giddens and Lash’s Reflexive Modernization (1994), this paper seeks to clear the way for a more consistent and coherent concept of reflexivity in relation to the cultural-symbolic foundations of society. Seeing that Lash in his contribution to the debate inadvertently raises a key problem, i.e., the broad cognitive problem, the paper develops a critique of his hermeneutic culturalism. It focuses on the disparity between the position explicitly put forward in the debate with Beck and Giddens and the cognitive one which more or less implicitly comes into play throughout his relevant essays. The disparity shows up already in his treatment of the problem of mediation, but it comes graphically to a head in his appropriation of Bourdieu. To lend the analysis some profile and depth, the argument is supported by elements of a socio-cognitive theory which has been gaining visibility in both social theory and the philosophy of social science. While the paper is critical of Lash, its overall aim is to strengthen his contribution to the debate.
Cognitive approach , Cultural models , Hermeneutics , Mediation , Reflexivity
Strydom, P. (1999) 'Hermeneutic culturalism and its double: a key problem in the reflexive modernization debate', European Journal of Social Theory, 2(1), pp. 45-69. doi: 10.1177/13684319922224301
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