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The Civil Sphere$
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Jeffrey C. Alexander

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195162509

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195162509.001.0001

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Race and Civil Repair (3)

Race and Civil Repair (3)

Civil Trauma and the Tightening Spiral of Communication and Regulation

Chapter:
(p.317) Chapter 13 Race and Civil Repair (3)
Source:
The Civil Sphere
Author(s):

Jeffrey C. Alexander

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195162509.003.0029

This chapter explores more deeply the symbolic extension of interracial solidarity at the heart of the Civil Rights movement, investigating how its tensely wrought dramas triggered a sense of moral violation among members of the surrounding civil sphere that led them to initiate forceful symbolic action for civic repair. It shows how this compensatory symbolic action triggered unprecedented changes in the civil sphere's regulatory institutions, creating overlapping waves of institutional and symbolic activity. However, even as we emphasize the neglected role of symbolic action and communicative institutions, placing them at the center of efforts to change the structure of civil society, we cannot forget the structures of a more coercive kind. To assert the significance of civil power is not to deny political and social forces; it is rather to place them into perspective. When social systems contain civil spheres, the sources and effects of power must be conceived in new ways. Power must be redefined.

Keywords:   interracial solidarity, Civil Rights movement, moral violation, civil sphere, civic repair

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