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Culture in Action: Symbols and Strategies

Ann Swidler
American Sociological Review
Vol. 51, No. 2 (Apr., 1986), pp. 273-286
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2095521
Page Count: 14
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Culture in Action: Symbols and Strategies
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Abstract

Culture influences action not by providing the ultimate values toward which action is oriented, but by shaping a repertoire or "tool kit" of habits, skills, and styles from which people construct "strategies of action." Two models of cultural influence are developed, for settled and unsettled cultural periods. In settled periods, culture independently influences action, but only by providing resources from which people can construct diverse lines of action. In unsettled cultural periods, explicit ideologies directly govern action, but structural opportunities for action determine which among competing ideologies survive in the long run. This alternative view of culture offers new opportunities for systematic, differentiated arguments about culture's causal role in shaping action.

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