CCS Supper Club ~ Fall 2023

RSVP Required ( - papers will be sent via email on the Friday prior to the meeting.

Giovanni ZampieriTUESDAY, OCTOBER 31, 2023

Giovanni Zampieri ~ University of Padova ~ Sociology Department Visiting Graduate Student

Sorting Sins Out. Manuals for Confession, Classification Rituals, and the Emergence of an Interpretive Infrastructure in Early Modern Italy.

Abstract: Cultural sociological research has shown how symbolic resources are crucial for the operations of classification. States and organizations rely on interpretive infrastructures to articulate semiotic codes in social situations. What is missing is a theorization of the dimensions in which interpretive infrastructures themselves are organized. Using early modern manuals for confession as a case study, I show how interpretive infrastructures must include and articulate semantic, syntactic, and pragmatic features to successfully link cultural structures to face-to-face interactions. To provide priests and laypeople with texts that could work as scripts for classification rituals, the authors of these books combined (1) the interpretive categories to be used in the ritual, (2) instructions on its position within broader chains of action, and (3) practical suggestions to manage the face-to-face interaction. Contributing to cultural and historical sociology, the article advances the understanding of interpretive infrastructures as organizational resources for the coordination of performances as the precondition for stable meaning-making processes.
Keywords: Interpretive Infrastructure; Sacramental Penance; Classification Ritual; Cultural Pragmatics; Manuals for Confession

Yingyu ZangTUESDAY, NOVEMBER 7,  2023

Yingyu Zang ~ Fudan University ~ CCS Visiting Graduate Student

Bring the Audience Back Online: Social Performance with Chinese Gen Z’s Discourse of “Social Phobia”

Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic significantly disrupted face-to-face interactions, thereby providing a conduit for examining the centrality of bodily co-presence in social interactions. This paper explores the burgeoning internet discourse of “social phobia” among Chinese Gen Z individuals, through which they articulate and legitimize their reluctance and incapacity to engage in social exchanges. I posit that this discourse unveils a burgeoning skepticism towards bodily co-presence, as individuality emerges as an alternate directive for social interactions. The “social phobic individuals,” previously the marginalized audience within the social performance realm, have harnessed the democratizing power of social media to engender new scripts. This has fortified psychological identification between the performer and the audience, alleviated the pressure of mise-en-scene, and fused social performance in a novel manner. The discourse of “social phobia” has thus cultivated solidarity with individualistic narratives and underscored the pivotal role of the audience in social performance theory.
Keywords: social phobia, social performance, social interaction, co-presence, audience, COVID-19

Santiago Vargas AcevedoTUESDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2023

Santiago Vargas Acevedo ~ University of Cambridge, UK ~ CCS Visiting Graduate Student

Performing the Extraordinary and Staging the People: The 2022 Election in Colombia

Abstract: This article interrogates a phenomenon that is on the rise in electoral politics across the globe: the politization of the extraordinary. I’m referring to the habit of overplaying the historical importance of the elections that political actors participate in. I focus on the particular case study of the 2022 presidential elections in Colombia, in which the left-wing candidate Gustavo Petro came out as victorious. Although it has been argued by many, including Petro himself, that his represented the first election of the left in the country’s history, I suggest otherwise, by attempting to question
instead how and why this extraordinariness came to be performed and accepted by public opinion in general. Furthermore, I argue that when examined as performative utterances—i.e., not in terms of their accuracy but of their intended effects—claims of political extraordinariness disclose deep layers of meaning that could otherwise remain concealed. I then move to evaluate Gustavo Petro’s politization of the extraordinary during the 2022 election, by means of which, I suggest, he attempted to position himself as an unprecedented representative of the people in the struggle for an unfulfilled promise of democracy. I further claim that when it comes to asserting the representation of the people, the concept of performative utterances can bring to light meanings that the theory of populism can obscure, especially in democratic systems in which Romance languages prevail. Finally, by virtue of a micro-aesthetic theory of politics that I propose here, I assess Gustavo Petro’s performance of the extraordinary and his staging of the people that he claimed to represent.