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What is Zeitgeist? Examining period-specific cultural patterns

Krause, Monika (2019) What is Zeitgeist? Examining period-specific cultural patterns. Poetics, 76. ISSN 0304-422X

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.poetic.2019.02.003


Current research on culture rarely differentiates explicitly between period-specific and other kinds of cultural patterns. This paper develops the concept of “zeitgeist” as a tool for sociological analysis. I propose we understand zeitgeist as a hypothesis for a pattern in meaningful practices that is specific to a particular historical time-period, links different realms of social life and social groups, and extends across geographical contexts. As such zeitgeist sensitises us to a phenomenon that can be described independently of and alongside other cultural phenomena such as trans-historical schemas or binaries or group- specific patterns. Dissociated from an idealist tradition in historiography, which makes strong assumptions about periods as coherent entities, tends to allocate one zeitgeist to one period, and assumes that zeitgeist is held together by the coherence of a set of ideas, zeitgeists can be described and compared according to their formal properties: We can ask how zeitgeists extend in time and social space and by what media and socio-material carriers the patterns of zeitgeists are held together.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2019 The Author
Divisions: Sociology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Date Deposited: 11 Feb 2019 16:18
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2024 18:54

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