Dmitry Kurakin 1, 2
  • 1 National Research University Higher School of Economics, 20 Myasnitskaya Str., Moscow, 101000, Russian Federation
  • 2 Yale University, 204 Prospect St., room 2004, New Haven, CT, USA, 06511

Cathectic Mechanisms of Culture. Part 1

2023, vol. 22, No. 3, pp. 9–52 [issue contents]
The first part of the article introduces a new research program that focuses on the constitutive role of emotions, affect, and their intensity in meaning-making. It opposes the existing broad tradition that effectively posits culture as information and sees cultural processes as coding, transferring, and processing information. I suggest that such a “cybernetic” paradigm of culture stems from the implicit or explicit domination of the computational models of cognition in sociology. However, current progress in cognitive neuroscience and its theoretical comprehension makes these models inadequate. The ongoing shift to distributed models of cognition calls for an adjustment of the concept of culture regarding its “vertical”, emotional dimension. Instead of seeing emotions as an “amplifier” of pre-existing cultural meanings or as a “fuel” of social processes, we should see emotions as an ingredient of an emergent synthesis that creates culture. The first part of the article introduces a historical-sociological reconstruction of theories recognizing an integral emotional dimension of culture; this is opposed to the entire sub-discipline of the sociology of emotions that broadly describes the mutual influences between social life and emotions as a human psychic trait. In the context of the ongoing debates about a cognitive turn in sociology, this historical-sociological reconstruction allows me to build a Durkheimian theory of cathectic mechanisms of culture based on the re-interpretation of the Freudian concept of cathexis. The article also contains the basic principles and implications of the sociological theory of cathexis.
Citation: Kurakin D. (2023) Katekticheskie mekhanizmy kul'tury [Cathectic Mechanisms of Culture. Part 1]. The Russian Sociological Review, vol. 22, no 3 (in Russian)
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