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The chapter’s analysis begins with its contention that one cannot understand the civil sphere without first understanding Alexander’s version of cultural sociology and of the significance he attaches to performance and political rituals. The chapter considers the two to be inextricably linked. In its analysis, the chapter stresses the centrality of performativity. This leads to identifying what it views as the three central shortcomings of the civil sphere project. First, it states Alexander exhibits a distinctly American optimism that does not resonate with the situation in Europe. Second, by focusing on dramatic political rituals, Alexander gives insufficient attention to public reasoning. Finally, he does not think the civil sphere is adequately defined.


Institute for Religion, Politics, and Society

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Book Chapter

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