A memetic understanding of the Cultural Olympaid for the 2012 games

This presentation explains some research that a colleague and I are carrying out into the Cultural Olympiad being planned for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games.  It contains some brief notes on a memetic framework we are developing as a way of engaging with the Cultural Olympiad as an evolving system with a heritage and a future beyond 2012,  and some ideas about the next stages of the research.

4 comments

  1. Is the ‘meme’ the best metaphor to approach socio-cultural analysis with? I have often been struck by the way in which ‘meme’ is used by scientists (and people who thinks of themselves as scientists but aren’t; such as economists) in an attempt, unsuccessful because half-hearted, to grapple with the concept of discourse.

    The slideshare thing is fantastic. A simple way of turning a blog post into a full blown lecture; amazing.

  2. I think ‘meme’ works in this context, although we are using it with trepidation! The Cultural Olympiad is something that we think is best categorised as an evolving system – suitably complex and involving huge amounts of people, institutions, policies, money and so on, with a pattern of inheritance and divergence between generations. I agree that the term ‘discourse’ might provide another way of decribing it, but the thrust of this research is more functional than theoretical – with most conceptions of dicourse what is missing is a good description of mechansisms. What we are describing is essentially a process. In good a Darwinian sense, it is a process without a telos other than often vague connections to the Olympic values. I’m usually with you and Sokal on the abuse of scientific metaphor, but as a ‘toolkit’ memes work quite nicely. Problems occur when social scientists get lost in the ‘reality of the model’ rather than being humble enough to accept they they only have ‘models of reality’. Not that I’m particularly humble, as paraphrasing Bourdieu badly shows.

    We may well lose the memetic approach, but it has a diagnostic appeal as a way of getting to grips with the Cultural Olympiad for 2012, time will tell if it has any serious critical value.

    I agree about slideshare….although I have picked it up a few times in students’ bibliographies as a shortcut to distilled information on a topic that means they can avoid reading full texts!

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