Pop culture institutions

From production to aesthetics

Authored by: Marshall Battani

Handbook of Cultural Sociology

Print publication date:  July  2010
Online publication date:  September  2010

Print ISBN: 9780415474450
eBook ISBN: 9780203891377
Adobe ISBN: 9781134026159


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The study of popular culture institutions developed into a legitimate sociological specialty as sociologists of culture harnessed conceptual toolkits already developed for the study of organizations and occupations to focus on the systemic institutionalized nature of the creation, distribution, and valuation of popular culture. The production of culture perspective (Peterson 1976) is emblematic of this orientation. Other approaches informed by ambitious classical studies of culture, and by critiques of cultural hegemony, persist as well, and have influenced sociologists taking up the study of audience “reception” and uses of popular culture (Press 1994). This chapter outlines the field of production, reception, and critical studies, and more recent moves to incorporate aesthetic argument into sociological studies of pop culture institutions. Reviewing the field this way illustrates the development of increasingly complex views of culture in social life and suggests that the incorporation of aesthetic argument provides an important next step in that development.

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