The International Society for Polysystem Studies (ISPS) is dedicated to strengthening and extending the application of rigorously grounded “relational thinking” to the study of culture. The prime theoretical point of departure for our efforts is the body of cultural theory generated during the last several decades by Itamar Even-Zohar, founder of the Unit of Culture Research at Tel Aviv University.
For much of the contemporary era, the study of cultural signs and symbols has been locked into a critical paradigm marked, as Even-Zohar has said, by a “lack of dispute about the object”, that is, by a highly static and therefore largely un-historicized estimation of an artifact’s cultural value. Borrowing from methodologies that are considered quite standard in the so-called “hard sciences”, Even-Zohar has generated a framework for both contextualizing the importance of a given object in a discrete moment of history, and hypothesizing the existence of critically important, if to this point largely unrecognized, cultural models and social processes.
During the last 15 years, forward-thinking scholars from around the world have begun to recognize the enormous effectiveness, as well as the enormous versatility, of the “Polysystem” frame of analysis. Those conducting cultural research on the basis of these insights are now found in a stunningly diverse set of “disciplinary homes” on all of the world’s inhabited continents.
Our goal is to create and maintain an open and evolving forum for all those interested in, and dedicated to, the use and promotion of Polysystem Theory.