The Routledge Handbook of the Sociology of Arts and Culture offers a comprehensive overview of sociology of art and culture, focusing especially – though not exclusively – on the visual arts, literature, music, and digital culture. Extending, and critiquing, Bourdieu’s influential analysis of cultural capital, the distinguished international contributors explore the extent to which cultural omnivorousness has eclipsed highbrow culture, the role of age, gender and class on cultural practices, the character of aesthetic preferences, the contemporary significance of screen culture, and the restructuring of popular culture. The Handbook critiques modes of sociological determinism in which cultural engagement is seen as the simple product of the educated middle classes. The contributions explore the critique of Eurocentrism and the global and cosmopolitan dimensions of cultural life. The book focuses particularly on bringing cutting edge ‘relational’ research methodologies, both qualitative and quantitative, to bear on these debates. This handbook not only describes the field, but also proposes an agenda for its development which will command major international interest.
This paper provides a framework for understanding the ways in which social processes produce social inequality. Specifically, we focus on a particular type of social process that has received limited attention in the literature and in which inter-subjective meaning-making is central: cultural processes. Much of the literature on inequality has focused on the actions of dominant actors and institutions in gaining access to material and non-material resources, or on how ecological effects cause unequal access to material resources. In contrast, we focus on processes that contribute to the production (and reproduction) of inequality through the routine and taken-for-granted actions of both dominant and subordinate actors. We highlight two types of cultural processes: identification and rationalization. We describe and illustrate four processes that we consider to be significant analytical exemplars of these two types of cultural processes: racialization and stigmatization (for identification) and standardization and evaluation (for rationalization). We argue that attention to such cultural processes is critical and complementary to current explanations of social inequality.