Dada between Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy and Bourdieu's Distinction Existenz and Conflict in Cultural Analysis

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Theory, Culture & Society

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Dada, Nietzsche, "Birth of Tragedy", Bourdieu, "distinction existenz", conflict, cultural analysis


Other Sociology | Sociology


Dada continues to attract a small following among scholars, but has perhaps not yet been recognized as providing invaluable insight into the underlying functions and potentials of culture generally. This article explores the nature and theoretical import of Dada, and two radically different visions of culture as they might try to accommodate and explain Dada. Models of culture taken from Bourdieu and Nietzsche are brought to bear, first on Dada, and then on each other, with the aim of developing a theoretically informed understanding of Dada, and also demonstrating the practical, political and philosophical difficulties involved in choosing between a conflict model of culture and an `existential' model. Ultimately, both models are found to be helpful but insufficient at providing an adequate account of Dada, and it is suggested that present models of cultural analysis can benefit by revisiting both Dada and Nietzsche, trying to incorporate their insights and critically evaluate their visions of culture.