Introduction: On the social and cultural in translation studies

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The numerous sociocultural approaches in Translation Studies are generally of the “toolbox” kind, where any number of models and factors may be drawn upon. This situation leaves many doubts with respect to what might constitute a sociocultural explanation, how pertinent factors can be located methodologically, what kind of causation is involved, and whether the social and the cultural might actually be the same thing. In attempting to formalize and solve those problems, we offer models where explanation requires methodological movement between the social and the cultural, where pertinent factors are located in and around the professional intercultures (or “translation cultures”) that define the borders of large-scale social systems, where causation appears as relatively asymmetric correlation, and where the sociological is partly quantitative (abstract empirical data) and the cultural is usually qualitative (signifying practices). The general approach is deemed suited to the study of mediators as people, rather than just texts as objects in systems. As such, it draws on advances in Interpreting Studies and resists subordination to any more general study of whole societies.


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