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cultural politics

  Deriving from the interdisciplinary field of cultural studies, \'cultural politics\' refers to the complex processes through which meanings are constructed and negotiated and to the analysis of how relations of dominance and subordination are defined and contested. Rather than separating \'culture\' from \'politics\', the term insists that the cultural is political in the sense that cultural distinctions are rarely made on purely aesthetic grounds but frequently involve conflicting material interests. This politicization of culture has been accompanied by the rise of identity politics whereby various forms of social difference have formed the basis for political mobilization. New social movements (including feminism, anti-racism, gay rights and environmental protest: cf. feminist geographies) have arisen alongside social class as the basis for political action (e.g. Hall and Jacques, 1989; hooks, 1990).

Cultural politics refers to the abstract maps of meaning ( Jackson, 1992) through which people make sense of the world, attaching value and significance to their material and social environment, and to the ways that those abstractions are objectified in concrete social practices and spatial forms (Hall and Henderson, 1977, p. 10). The term demands a plural definition of culture as \'whole ways of life\' associated with various forms of social difference, including those that are articulated through race, gender and sexuality. Cultural politics draws attention to the diverse ways that cultural constructions help to perpetuate inequalities of power within society. Geographical interest in \'cultural politics\' coincided with the wider cultural turn in the social sciences and the humanities, focusing on questions of representation and identity, particularly in relation to the politics of place and space (Duncan and Ley, 1993; Keith and Pile, 1993). In turn, geographers have made other social scientists more aware of the role of space and place in the constitution of social life (Bird et al., 1993; Carter et al., 1993). (PAJ)

References Bird, J., Curtis, B., Putnam, T., Robertson, G. and Tickner, L., eds, 1993: Mapping the futures: local culture, global change. London: Routledge. Carter, E., Donald, J. and Squires, J., eds, 1993: Space and place: theories of identity and location. London: Lawrence and Wishart. Duncan, J. and Ley, D., eds, 1993: Place/culture/representation. London: Routledge. Hall, S. and Henderson, J., eds, 1977: Resistance through rituals. London: Hutchinson/Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies. Hall, S. and Jacques, M. eds, 1989: New times: the changing face of politics in the 1980s. London: Lawrence and Wishart; hooks, b. 1990: Yearning: race, gender, and cultural politics. Toronto: Between the Lines. Jackson, P. 1992. Maps of meaning. London: Routledge. Keith, M. and Pile, S., eds, 1993: Place and the politics of identity. London: Routledge.



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