Skills, toolkits, contexts and institutions: clarifying the relationship between different approaches to cognition in cultural sociology
In this paper we attempt to characterize the key differences and points of convergence between two contemporary approaches to the relationship between culture and cognition in sociology which we label the toolkit and strong practice theory perspectives. We follow recent work at the intersection of culture and cognition in attempting to explicitly formulate the cognitive underpinnings of these two approaches in terms of the assumptions that they make about cultural acquisition, transmission and externalization. Our analysis suggests that in spite of very important differences in emphasis and explanatory range, toolkit and strong practice-theoretical approaches are complementary, although the specific types of modal situation for which each of them is best suited need to be more clearly specified. We develop a framework that shows how the two approaches can be deployed in conjunction as well as specifying the modal settings and situations that each will be more likely to handle best as well as those in which they will run into trouble.