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Why do humans hold onto traditions? Many pundits predicted that modernization and the rise of a mass culture would displace traditions, especially in America, but cultural practices still bear out the importance of rituals and customs in the development of identity, heritage, and community. In Explaining Traditions: Folk Behavior in Modern Culture, Simon J. Bronner discusses the underlying reasons for the continuing significance of traditions, delving into their social and psychological roles in everyday life, from old-time crafts to folk creativity on the Internet. Challenging prevailing notions of tradition as a relic of the past, Explaining Traditions provides deep insight into the nuances and purposes of living traditions in relation to modernity. Bronner's work forces readers to examine their own traditions and imparts a better understanding of raging controversies over the sustainability of traditions in the modern world.
About the Author
Simon J. Bronner, Distinguished University Professor of American Studies and Folklore and director of the American Studies doctoral program at Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg, is the author of more than a dozen books, including Grasping Things: Folk Material Culture and Mass Society in America and Killing Tradition: Inside Hunting and Animal Rights Controversies. He lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations ix
Prologue: Beginning with Tradition 1
1 Defining Tradition: On the Meaning and Politics of a "Handy" Concept 13
2 Explaining Tradition: On Folk and Folkloristic Logic 63
3 Building Tradition: On Control and Authority in Vernacular Architecture 93
4 Making Tradition: On Craft in American Consciousness 138
5 Adapting Tradition: On Folklore in Human Development 196
6 Fading Tradition: On a Dying Language and Lore 248
7 Personalizing Tradition: On Storytelling by an African American Father and Son 282
8 Symbolizing Tradition: On the Scatology of an Ethnic Identity 319
9 Sporting Tradition: On the Praxis of American Football 350
10 Virtual Tradition: On the Internet as a Folk System 398