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Social Ontology, Cultural Sociology, and the War on Terror

Toward a Cultural Explanation of Institutional Change
  • Werner Binder
Chapter
Part of the Studies in the Philosophy of Sociality book series (SIPS, volume 1)

Abstract

This chapter offers a cultural sociological reading of Searle’s social ontology and a case study from the War on Terror. A brief conceptual introduction is followed by a proposal for a more cultural understanding of Searle’s background that also includes representational elements. Such a conception might prove useful to explain complex institutional and societal changes. This understanding of the background will be substantiated by an empirical study of the symbolic impact of 9/11 and the Abu Ghraib scandal. First, it is argued that the growing legitimacy of torture after the terrorist attack is an effect of a specific narrative background pattern: the ticking bomb scenario. Second, it is shown how the visual properties of the Abu Ghraib images in relation to the cultural background of the United States triggered the prison scandal in 2004. The photographs documenting the abuse not only shocked the collective conscience but subverted the predominant ticking bomb narrative. Last but not least, it is argued that the Abu Ghraib scandal had an impact on legal and political decisions concerning the treatment of detainees in the War in Terror as well as on the torture debate and American popular culture. These effects cannot be regarded as direct consequences of the scandal, but have to be explained via changes in the cultural background.

Keywords

York Time Cultural Background Terrorist Attack Collective Identity Geneva Convention 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Social Studies, Department of SociologyMasaryk UniversityBrnoCzech Republic

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