SYMBOLS AND SOCIAL REALITY by Hugh Dalziel Duncan

SYMBOLS AND SOCIAL REALITY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This rather Sisyphean effort fails even to sharpen the issues. The subtopics are both ill-organized and badly followed through, except insofar as they involve a precis of someone else's thought. The author lacks an overarching hypothesis, What he offers is an often-submerged central theme: ""the failure to Create a significant body of social theory . . . about how we communicate, and thus how we relate."" The question-begging With respect to causal links indicated by ""thus"" is never really overcome. On some of the most tantalizing issues (like art-and-society) the author contents himself with nudging straw men, as he does in his lame conclusion that models of social action should not simply be derived from religious rites! As a survey of major thinkers (including Weber, Pareto, Sorokin, Durkheim, Malinowski and Burke) the book has a certain supererogatory value, and it is good to have Peirce and Mead resurrected. However. the author not only treats the Whorfians cavalierly and refuses to discuss seriously sociology-of-knowledge theorizers--he inexplicably ignores two schools of the utmost relevance to his subject, the neo-Kantians like Cassirer and the ""structuralists"" around Levi-Strauss.

Pub Date: Oct. 16th, 1969
Publisher: Oxford