Demystifying authenticity in the sociology of culture

Authored by: David Grazian

Routledge Handbook of Cultural Sociology

Print publication date:  October  2018
Online publication date:  November  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138288621
eBook ISBN: 9781315267784
Adobe ISBN:


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Authenticity can refer to a variety of aesthetic, moral, or cultural traits, including credibility, originality, sincerity, naturalness, genuineness, innateness, purity, or realness. This chapter outlines three strategies that promote the social construction of authenticity in popular culture and public life: the assignment of authenticity through the production of discourse; the staging of authenticity as an integral part of the culture production process; and the performance of authenticity as an accomplishment of social interaction. In doing so, it illustrates how the theoretical tools of cultural sociology can demystify the production and performance of authenticity. The chapter concludes with a discussion of three emergent aesthetic practices – hybridity, irony, and transgression – that deconstruct or otherwise challenge the performance of authenticity.

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