You tell me.

For the gazillionth time, I’m revising the syllabus for a class I teach on Cultural Organizations.  The course description boils down to this: “This course will focus on the production of culture, specifically the role of artists, firms and markets in creating cultural objects, ideas, and practices.”  My objective is to make this semester’s class centered on organizations, fields, networks, and workers.  I’m going to throw my current list of readings down, and ask for your suggestions.  Do write if you can.  (And rather than tell you what I think should be replaced or added, I’ll just wait for your first strike.)

What is a Cultural Organization?
1.    Hirsch, Paul M. “Cultural Industries Revisited.”  Organization Science, Vol. 11, No. 3 (May-June 2000), pp. 356-361.
2.    Lampel, Joseph, Theresa Lant, Jamal Shamsie.  “Balancing Act: Learning from Organizing Practices in Cultural Industries.”  Organization Science, Vol. 1, No. 3 (May-June 2000), pp. 263-269.

DiMaggio, Paul and Helmut K. Anheier.  1990.  “The Sociology of Nonprofit Organiations and Sectors.”  Annual Review of Sociology.  16: 137-59.

Cultural Organizations and Societal Context
1.    Selections from Pierre Bourdieu on Cultural Fields
2.    Ferguson, Priscilla P.  “A Cultural Field in the Making: Gastronomy in 19th Century France.”  American Journal of Sociology.  Vol 104, No. 3 (Nov. 1998), pp. 597-641.
3.    Allmendinger, Jutta and J. Richard Hackman.  “Organizations in Changing Environments: The Case of East German Symphony Orchestras.”  Administrative Science Quarterly.  Vol. 41 (3) (September 1996): 337-369.
4.    DiMaggio, Paul.  “Cultural Entrepreneurship in Nineteenth-Century Boston: The Creation of an Organizational Base for High Culture in America.”  Pp. 374-397.
5.    Zolberg, Vera.  1981.  “Conflicting Visions in American Art Museums.”  Theory and Society.  Vol. 10 (1): 103-125.

Information and Decision-Making
1.    Anand, N. and Richard A. Peterson.  2000.  “When Market Information Constitutes Fields: Sensemaking of Markets in the Commercial Music Industry.”  Organization Science.  Vol 11 (3): 270-284.
2.    Hirsch, Paul M. 1972. “Processing Fads and Fashions: An Organization-Set Analysis of Cultural Industry Systems.”  American Journal of Sociology.  77: 639-659.
3.    Bielby, William T. and Denise D. Bielby.  1994.  “All Hits are Flukes: Institutionalized Decision Making and the Rhetoric of Prime-Time Development.”  American Journal of Sociology, 99: 1287-1313.
4.    Wijnberg, Nachoem M. and Gerda Gemser.  2000.  “Adding Value to Innovation: Impressionism and the Transformation of the Selection System in Visual Arts”.  Organization Science, Vol. 11 (3): 323-329.

Careers in Cultural Organizations
1.    Smith, Vicki.  1997.  “New Forms of Work Organization.”  Annual Review of Sociology.  23: 315-339.
2.    Menger, Pierre-Michel.  1999.  “Artistic Labor Markets and Careers.”  Annual Review of Sociology.  25: 541-574.
3.    Faulkner, Robert R. and Andy B. Anderson.  1987.  “Short-Term Projects and Emergent Careers: Evidence from Hollywood.”  American Journal of Sociology.  92 (4): 879-909.
4.    Neff, Gina, Elizabeth Wissinger and Sharon Zukin.  2005.  “Entrepreneurial Labor among Cultural Producers: ‘Cool’ Jobs in ‘Hot” Industries.”  Social Semiotics.  15 (3): 307-334.
5.    Lang, Gladys and Kurt Lang.  1988.  “Recognition and Renown: The Survival of Artistic Reputation.”  94: 79-109.

Funding and Selecting Art
1.    Alexander, Victoria.  1996.  “Pictures at an Exhibition: Conflicting Pressures in Museums and the Display of Art.”  American Journal of Sociology.  Vol. 101 (4): 797-839.
2.    Ahlkvist, Jarl A. and Robert Faulkner.  2002.  “Will this Record Work For Us?: Managing Music Formats in Commercial Radio.”  Qualitative Sociology.  Vol. 25 (2): 189-215.
3.    Radio programmers article.

Controversy and Collaboration
1.    Glynn, Mary Ann.  2000.  “When Cymbals become Symbols: Conflict over Organizational Identity within a Symphony Orchestra.” Organization Science.  Vol. 11 (3): 285-298.
2.    Becker, Howard.  “Art as Collective Action.”  American Sociological Review.  Vol. 39 (6): 767-776.
3.    Fine, Gary Allen.  2003.  “Crafting authenticity: The validation of identity in self-taught art.”  Theory and Society.  32: 153-180.
4.    Fine, Gary Allen.  1996.  Kitchens: The Culture of Restaurant Work.



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3 responses to “You tell me.

  1. One area that I find particularly interesting — though it is a little bit off the beaten path looking at the rest of your syllabus — is the role of artists in the production of gentrification and real-estate markets. There are a couple of really great books. The best is Sharon Zukin’s Loft Living because it links the role of artists to the real-estate interests of landed aristocrats who opposed the plans of Robert Moses and allies to remake NYC in a Modernist image. She links the Artist in Residency program to the development of Lofts and the subsequent capital accumulation (based on this original cultural production). If you don’t want to add a whole book, there are a couple of good chapters in Landscapes of Power

    Your colleague Richard Lloyd is also an excellent source. I’ve only read the articles and pieces of his book, but his discussion of artists laying the cultural groundwork (often while losing money financially) to make areas “hip” is really fascinating. Finally, there are a couple of good articles or chapters by David Harvey on the same topic. I’d be happy to dig them up if you’re interested.

    I could just find all of this interesting because it is what I study, but I think that it could be a great application of the artist’s role in cultural production.

  2. About cultural industries you must read and teach David Hesmondhalgh (2007). The cultural industries, ando also Justin O’Connor (
    Best regards,
    Rogerio Santos (Portugal, EU)

  3. For artistic careers I think the fundamental issue is the “starving artist” phenomena and for that I like to contrast the “cost disease” model with the “turnament” model:

    Baumol and Bowen’s Performing Arts, the Economic Dilemma
    MacDonald, Glenn. 1988. “The Economics of Rising Stars.” American Economic Review 78: 155-166.

    I’ve also been increasingly interested in Galenson’s experiment/concept dichotomy and that in particular really seems to grab undergrads.
    Another thing I think is really interesting and I know you’ve been interested in too is consecration (ie, the social construction of artistic value). Note that this is basically the flip side of the “distinction” problem since consecration is about how people imbue status to objects, rather than objects imbue status to people. For this I like to use selections from:

    Baumann, Shyon. 2007. Hollywood Highbrow: From Entertainment to Art. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
    Bourdieu, Pierre. 1993. The Field of Cultural Production. New York: Columbia University Press.
    DiMaggio, Paul. 1982. “Cultural Entrepreneurship in 19th C. Boston” Media, Culture, and Society 4 (1).
    English, James. 2005. The Economy of Prestige: Prizes, Awards, and the Circulation of Cultural Value. Cambridge Mass.: Harvard University Press.

    I see Podolny’s Status Signals as a more generalized form of the consecration argument that Bourdieu is making, but the structural homology between corporate bond offerings and art galleries may be a bit too abstract for pedagogical purposes.

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