Profanation: How Breaks in Structures Affect Different Cultures Prompt: Dissect the meaning of symbols in Durkheim and relate it to Hebdige's work "Subculture"

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Nedum Aniemeka SOSC 12200 March 18, 2014

Profanation: How Breaks in Structures Affect Different Cultures

Many of the authors we have read this quarter have explored the presence of structures in society in order to flesh out what culture is. Specifically, these authors not only attempt to identify the structures present in any given culture, but they also dissect and examine the relationships between these structures in order to determine how a society functions under a given set of rules/conventions. While these thinkers have different approaches to evaluating how structures are formed and followed, (for example, Hebdige uses an ethnographic analysis while Sahlins isolates a specific moment of time to study the structures of a certain group of people) all of these authors have similar overarching arguments. The similarities between them lie in their understanding of profanation, and what they believe it means when things that are usually kept separate are suddenly placed into the same world.

Hebdige, Sahlins, and Adorno all operate under the system of profanation in their examinations of culture, and by observing their analyses we can determine what kind of societal and political consequences arise from profanation in various cultures.

As already mentioned, the idea of profanation plays an important role in each of these thinkers' works. However, in order to understand what is meant by profanation, we must return to Durkheim's observations of the sacred vs. the profane. According to Durkheim, "sacred things are those which interdictions protect and isolate; profane things, those to which these interdictions are applied and which must remain at a distance from the first" (Durkheim, pg. 40). These interdictions Durkheim speaks of create relationships not only between what is sacred and what is profane, but also between things of varying degrees of sacredness. Thus, one ends up with structures...