Signs and wonders: on profane media studies

de la Fuente, Eduardo (2011) Signs and wonders: on profane media studies. Times Higher Education Supplement, 2 June 2011. pp. 1-4.

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[Extract] The French sociologist Émile Durkheim once claimed that religion represents the "serious life of a society". This is a puzzling suggestion for those of us working in the secular academy. Was Durkheim implying that modern university scholars interested in culture and society are cut off from the serious life?

Max Weber, a contemporary of Durkheim's, had a slightly different way of framing the issue. He believed that an intellectual culture that had eaten from the "tree of knowledge" would struggle to find meaning in modern everyday existence. He called this situation the "disenchantment of the world".

In the closing pages of his landmark 1905 work, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Weber suggested that the best that could come from a culture unable to access the sacred was a situation of "specialists without spirit, sensualists without heart". We moderns might think we are advanced; but in reality we have been robbed of the resources to lead what Weber terms a "satiated" life.

Item ID: 40494
Item Type: Article (Editorial)
ISSN: 0040-7887
Keywords: media studies; aesthetics; profane
Date Deposited: 08 Oct 2015 03:03
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2001 Communication and Media Studies > 200104 Media Studies @ 50%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology > 160806 Social Theory @ 50%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society @ 100%
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