Conference Agenda

RN07_05: Sociology of Culture: Cultural consumption and stratification
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Dominik Zelinsky, University of Edinburgh
Location: GM.335
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Geoffrey Manton, Third Floor 4 Rosamond Street West Off Oxford Road


Cultural Capital and Emerging Culture: The case of meditation, yoga, and vegetarianism in the U.K.

Adam Gemar

Durham University, United Kingdom

Yoga and meditation have experienced a boom in Western appropriation

in recent decades and consistently grow more culturally ubiquitous.

Likewise, rates of vegetarianism are quickly rising. However, little

scholarly work has been produced around these newer forms upon the

cultural landscape. Even less adopts a sociological perspective. This

paper seeks to remedy this fact. It aims to advance understandings as to

the patterns of consumption regarding newer cultural forms, with yoga,

meditation, and vegetarianism as case studies. Proceeding with the UK

as the field of study, this paper presents an original national survey. It

performs regression analyses with the survey data to accomplish an

analysis of interaction with these cultural forms. From the results, this

paper asserts that objectified cultural capital is still salient for social

distinction of these forms. This paper also suggests criteria by which

emerging forms of culture may establish more quickly as high status

cultural objects in an age of globalisation.

Political Power Of The Private: Celebrity Discourse And Deserving Elites

Breda Luthar

University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

In the popular journalistic discourse the elites are overwhelmingly represented as controversial, corrupt and unjustified in occupying a high position in society, and therefore, the anti-elite discourse and celebrity discourse seem contradictory. Yet, I would like to argue that both discourses contribute to the growing normalization and individualization of inequality and, at the same time, to the populist egalitarian invocation of "the people" that involves the displacement of question of class at the expense of the national mobilization of "proto-national" sentiments, radical egalitarianism and anti-intellectualism.

The central concern of this contribution will be the role of celebrity discourse, and the discursive processes of celebrification in the populist mystification of class distinctions. By focusing on the analysis of representation of Melania Trump ("a slovene bride" as she is often lovingly called in local popular media), I will try to explain how representation of femininity in celebrity narratives, which are in themselves narratives about social distinctions and class, necessarily involves “doing” nation. The discourses on nationality, class and gender intersect in stories on Melania Trump, a celebrity, that is at the same time local and ours and global and foreign. Through the humanization of local celebrities (as deserving elites) popular media establish cultural myth of social egalitarianism and culturally constructing the mythological “community of sameness” by displacing the question of class as a key stratifying principle.

Canon Formation in a Polarised Cultural Elite - Results from a Social Network Analysis

Luca Kristóf, Dorottya Kisfalusi, Eszter Vit

Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungary

Since 2010, the Hungarian cultural field has experienced significant changes. The populist/illiberal governmental elite has been gaining increased influence and power over other elite groups, such as the economic and cultural elite. In the field of culture the incumbent political elite has aspired to eliminate old cultural structures in order to redistribute cultural positions and resources. The symbolic dimension of this fight is cultural canon formation, which is in the focus of our inquiry.

Hungarian cultural elite is deeply polarised. While the positional elite (i.e. leaders of public cultural institutions) is generally supportive of the government; the reputational elite (i.e. the most acknowledged artists and intellectuals) tend to be more critical. Our survey was carried out among the cultural elite (N=458). It combined positional and snowball sampling, which allows us to study the production and distribution of cultural reputation in the elite. According to the votes of our respondents, we compiled the list of the most prominent cultural actors, and included them in our sample. We used exponential random graph models to detect the social network structure of the elite, and to show how political polarisation (controlling for other relevant variables such as gender, age, cultural genre, education and public intellectual activity) affects the personal network and the cultural recognition of elite members.

Our results show that even in this divided structure, the structural network positions of the reputational elite reveal the stability of contemporary canon, despite the government’s attempts at controlling the cultural field.

The Constituents of Audience Affordances: A Cultural Sociological Approach to the Success of Turkish Soap Operas in Croatia

Mirko Petric, Zeljka Zdravkovic

University of Zadar, Croatia

The paper discusses one specific instance of the success of Turkey's export of scripted TV content, which has since the early 2000s become second only to that of the USA. “The Balkan craze for Turkish soap operas” has been interpreted in popular accounts as a sign of the audience’s recognition of the world represented in the TV products at stake. Likewise, the typical audience for such products has generally been taken to be “women” (viewed as an undifferentiated category). The paper attempts to offer an explanation of the success of Turkish soap operas in Croatia that would go beyond facile popular accounts centred on “cultural proximity”, but also beyond a cultural studies-style textual analysis centred on the “images of women” or “images for women”. An empirically based approach to the constituents of audience affordances was designed as an explanatory sequential mixed methods study. First, a two-step cluster analysis of nationally representative data on women’s gender equality attitudes was performed. Following that, the resulting typology was used in purposive sampling of interview and focus groups participants. Integration attempted both at the methods as well as the interpretation and reporting levels results in a broader picture of the researched topic, which includes a structural component. This research was carried out within the Croatian Science Foundation funded project on gender modernisation (GENMOD, HRZZ 6010).