Globalization and cultural production

Authored by: Denise D. Bielby

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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Among the many transformations in the world economy during the last quarter-century is the expanded trans-nationalization of cultural production. The industry trade publication The Hollywood Reporter (Turner 2008) reported that in 2007 the major US studios alone generated an estimated $6 billion in international program sales, and as a singular measure this figure is but one small indicator of how the robust production and distribution of cultural products that include film, radio, television, books, music, and new media now constitute an overwhelmingly vibrant global economic sector. Although world markets are not new, what has changed is the rapid acceleration of the globalizing world economy, and, in particular, the organizational arrangements that underlie it. As organizations have become increasingly transnational in scope, industrial arrangements of production and distribution have become more complex. Social theorists (Weber 1978 [1921]) recognized that globalization of industrial forms would be the end-point of modernity, itself the outgrowth of scientific technology and industrial production that has yielded a world of economic markets, legal settings, and political organizations in which social institutions operate under rational organizational principles. In the study of these arrangements, however, organization scholars found that when firms expand into less familiar cultural locales, they are often confronted with ambiguous marketplaces and no clear route to success, and it is within those contexts that firms collectively develop conceptualizations of how their market is structured along lines of, for example, competitive strategies (Fligstein 1996), labor relations (Dobbin et al. 1993), and organization boundaries (Davis et al. 1994) to augment familiar institutional strategies for action. Strategic corporate leaders play a pivotal role in this process (Fligstein 2001).

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