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Universidad del Rosario Escuela de Ciencias Humanas Estudios Sociales de la Cultura Ernesto Navarro Martnez

ALEXANDER: In The Strong Program of Cultural Sociology, Alexander and Smith develop the basic guidelines for a proper approach to culture in sociology. One of the main theses of these authors is that sociologists need to establish an hermeneutical dialogue with cultural frameworks. This dialogue must be done bracketing-out issues like power and instrumental reason a movement somewhat inspired in Husserls phenomenological reduction. Alexander and Smith find problematic in what they call weak programs the fact that these sociologists try to understand culture from the outside (without the mentioned bracketing) and, in doing so, they do not approach cultural frameworks as they should. In this point, I thought about the Foucauldian conceptualization of power. Power, according to Foucault, is not something that someone in particular has, neither is something with a vertical structure of oppression on people. Power must be understood, in Foucaults theoretical account, as something constituted of power relations (which, it is worth saying, are not essentially oppressive) that permeate every aspect of life. I am aware of the authors characterization of Foucaults works as evidences of a weak program and the criticism that emerges from such characterization, but I think Alexander and Smith are still thinking power in juridical terms. Foucault radically alters what power means, and in that sense his analysis is not a reductionist one. If Foucaults assertions about power are to be taken seriously, how could someone approach to cultural frameworks bracketing-out power relations?

BOURDIEU: I would like to write a little reflection on Bourdieus account of the social elements present in museums. I understood that Bourdieu is suggesting that in order to increment cultural consumption and assistance to museums, we would need to increment access to education, since these things are deeply related. I think that it is possible to see museums as oppressive spaces where people can experience some sort of symbolic oppression (I know that Bourdieu uses this concept in his texts, but I dont know his work, so I am using this expression very loosely in theoretical terms). Museums seem to be consolidated as spaces where what is socially acceptable becomes beautiful and good. Likewise, museums tell us what should be known and appreciated. In that sense, an increase in education may help to abate individual experiences of oppression in museums. However, it seems to me that this would continue under dynamics of what is socially acceptable, eliminating difference in some way. Thus, museums would still be spaces where what is beautiful, good and worthy of being known is standardized and consolidated. It is possible to think of a scenario where everyone can access these spaces without experiencing discomfort and oppression. Yet this picture still seems to privilege one way of culture over others that are not correct. Given that, what should be done with museums?