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The still contemporary “Sociodynamique de la Culture” (Abraham Moles, 1967)

Moles, A. (1967). Sociodynamique de la Culture. Mouton

By Rooney Pinto

Abraham Moles’s 1967 work “Sociodynamic of Culture” offers a comprehensive framework for understanding the dynamic interplay between cultural phenomena and social structures. This groundbreaking approach aimed to unravel the mechanisms that govern the creation, dissemination, and evolution of cultural elements within a society.

Moles proposed that culture is not a static entity but a dynamic system that is in a state of constant flux, influenced by various social, economic, and technological factors, and vice versa. His approach is predicated on a sociodynamic view of culture, which posits that culture is subject to various phenomena simultaneously, while also being reflected in them. As he stated: En d’autres termes, il est possible de suggérer une sociodynamique représentant une action non pas sur l’évolution de la société culturelle mais une action sur la culture elle-même. (Moles, 1967/1971, p.287)*

According to Moles, the cultural artefacts, such as art, literature, and music, are not merely the products of individual creativity but are shaped by the collective consciousness of a society. Cultural phenomena, therefore, emerge from the interactions between individuals, groups, and institutions, forming a complex web of influence and exchange.

Furthermore, Moles emphasized the importance of considering the temporal dimension in studying cultural dynamics. He recognized that cultural trends and patterns evolve, subject to the forces of innovation, diffusion, and obsolescence. By analyzing the life cycles of cultural elements, from their emergence to their eventual decline or transformation, Moles aimed to uncover the underlying social processes that drive cultural change and continuity. Notably, the author expresses concern about the potential impact of new technologies on the radio industry, particularly in the work’s timeframe. At the same time, he highlights the potential threat posed by television, which he views as a constant competitor to radio. Additionally, he draws attention to the manipulation of information dissemination through technology.

Moles’ theory was a product of his interdisciplinary approach, drawing inspiration from various fields such as sociology, anthropology, and cybernetics. He skillfully incorporated concepts like information theory and systems thinking to develop a unified framework for understanding the dynamics of cultural systems. As depicted in the following diagram from his book, Moles conceptualized culture as a complex network of interconnected elements, where each element influences and is influenced by different aspects.

Moles’s pioneering work laid the groundwork for a new paradigm in cultural studies, sparking a wave of research into the sociodynamics of culture. His ideas continue to shape our understanding of the emergence, evolution, and impact of cultural phenomena on societies, offering a more comprehensive and dynamic perspective on the interaction between culture and social structures.

*Moles, A. (1971). Sociodynamique de la Culture. Mouton (Original work published 1967)