Download PDF by B. F. Skinner: About Behaviorism

By B. F. Skinner

ISBN-10: 0307797848

ISBN-13: 9780307797841

The elemental booklet concerning the arguable philosophy often called behaviorism, written by means of its prime exponent.

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002 Cambridge Books Online © Cambridge University Press, 2012 Symbolic systems and cultural codes 33 1996). The ‘decoding’ of school knowledge (in ‘learning’) depends upon the possession of an appropriate communicative competence, an ability or capacity to ‘understand’ what is said and implied in a particular situation and, therefore, to learn from it. This competence rests on the particular cultural codes acquired during socialisation. Lévi-Strauss used this idea in the four volumes of his Mythologiques (1964; 1967; 1968; 1971), where he explored the myths of central Brazil and neighbouring tribal areas.

The social evolutionist Keller (1915) took the radical step of seeing the symbol as analogous to the recently discovered gene. The biologist Alfred Emerson also took this view in private discussions with Parsons, who developed the idea that where the gene is the unit of heredity in biological systems, the symbol is the unit of inheritance in cultural systems. The symbol is an ‘internalized object … which can be transmitted with minimal change from one personality to another’ (Parsons and Bales 1956: 397).

They are associated with the segmented structures of mechanical solidarity found, in the contemporary world, in working-class communities. Elaborated codes, which allow their users to select from a much wider range of items and are more ‘universalistic’ in the meanings they convey, are associated with the differentiated structures of organic solidarity characteristic of middle-class ways of life and the dominant social institutions (Bernstein 1962). Those whose language use is structured by a restricted code, Bernstein argued, may experience difficulties in dealing with knowledge structured by an elaborated code, and he showed that the possibilities of inter-class communication are constrained by the differentiation of speech codes along class lines.

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About Behaviorism by B. F. Skinner

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