Over 4000 free audio and video lectures, seminars and teaching resources from Oxford University.
Skip to Content Skip to Navigation

Mary Douglas Memorial Lecture 2015: The Societalization of Social Problems

Loading Video...
Duration: 0:58:24 | Added: 04 Aug 2015
Professor Jeffrey C. Alexander (Yale University) delivered the Mary Douglas Memorial Lecture on 3 June 2014 at Oxford. The lecture was 'The societalization of social problems: recent social crises and the civil sphere'

Drawing from cultural sociology, this lecture develops a theory of “societalization” to explain social reaction to three recent, globally significant upheavals – the financial crisis, church pedophilia, and media phone-hacking. While these problems were endemic for years and even decades, they had failed to generate broad crises: Reactions were confined inside institutional boundaries and handled by intra-institutional elites according to the cultural logics of their particular spheres. When intra-institutional strains become interpreted as challenges to civil discourse and interests, there is societalization. Inter-sphere boundaries become tense and there is widespread anguish about social justice and the future of democratic society. A war of the spheres ensues and, eventually, there is movement back to steady state. Societalization cannot prevent the future eruption of social strains. In a differentiated and plural society, tensions between spheres is endemic, and civil repair depends upon the possibilities generated by societalization.

Copy and paste this HTML snippet to embed the audio or video on your site: