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This book is about our appreciation for order and meaningfulness. It offers a new theory of that feeling inspired by Durkheim and Marx, then derives other theories to answer a range of questions: why we like to make ourselves orderly (in Chapter Three’s theory of identity and commitment), why create shared orders of meaning (in Chapter Four’s theory of culture); how we create those orders collaboratively through conversation (Chapter Five), and also through narrative, symbolic, and ritualistic formats (Chapter Six), and how orders of meaning are created in response to social structural position (Chapter Seven). In the end, this book shows how our sense of order both integrates and segregates us into productive associations with one another.

And so,
Explaining Culture is able to explain two patterns common to all growth: expansion and centralization. We see how our desire for novelty disperses us for resources, and that for familiarity draws us together to create meaningful order from them. Indeed, this book may offer a new approach to answering one of the most basic questions in both social and natural science: the question of how organic systems like society are created and maintained.

Explaining Culture is an important new step in answering our most basic questions about culture, social interaction, and the emergence of order. The unique contribution of this work is in identifying the determinants of meaningfulness, and the ways we make the world meaningful by ordering it. Our valuing of order is rarely mentioned in sociology, but this book shows how it is the key influence in how we order ourselves and each other.

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