Networks and culture

Authored by: Alix Rule , Peter Bearman

Routledge International Handbook of the Sociology of Art and Culture

Print publication date:  September  2015
Online publication date:  September  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415855112
eBook ISBN: 9780203740248
Adobe ISBN: 9781135008895


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Social networks invoke relations between people giving rise to social structures. Culture, broadly construed, invokes meanings. The fact that ties between people are necessarily infused with meaning and that meaning is no more than a network of people, objects, and ideas in practice makes the distinction between culture and networks an analytical convenience – a device for thinking about the relationships between culture and groups. In this essay we aim to show that this insight can illuminate the study of a variety of complex empirical settings, and thus provide answers to classic questions in the sociology of culture: (1) how tastes differentiate people, (2) how structures of meaning and structures of social relations co-evolve and (3) how transformations in structures of meaning articulate with and shape transformations in structures of dominance. Throughout, we use an idea from Arthur Danto that crystalizes the thought that networks and culture constitute one another.

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