Contesting the highbrow and lowbrow distinction

How Latin American scholars engage in cross-cultural debates

Authored by: María Luisa Méndez

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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Research regarding change in social structure as a by-product of neoliberal macro structural transformations has been ongoing for the past two decades in Latin America. Although this field has been taking shape in a relatively slow way, its attention to the broad effects of neoliberalism has been sustained (Filgueira and Geneletti 1981; CEPAL/ECLAC 1989, 2000; Filgueira 2001; Torche and Wormald, 2004; Atria 2004; Franco et al. 2007, among others). Given the expansion of the service sector and the explosion of a so-called consumer society (García Canclini 1989), one major focus of interest has been the study of the new urban middle classes as – arguably – the group that epitomizes processes of social and cultural change (Méndez 2010). This chapter will comment on studies conducted in the region on these groups, which are connected to broader and more pressing questions of cultural differentiation and the reshaping of social hierarchies in Latin America.

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