chapter  4
34 Pages

Social Structure, Institutions, and Cultural Goods: The Case of the United States

WithPaul DiMaggio

Research in anthropology, sociology, and other fields unanimously reports that people's choices of expressive goods are profoundly cultural and social. This chapter argues that changes in social structure and the rise of an open market for cultural goods have weakened institutionalized cultural authority, and created more differentiated, less hierarchical, less universal, and less symbolically potent systems of cultural classification than those in place. The difference is riot intrinsic to particular expressive goods: cultural capital and cultural resources must be distinguished empirically. For a society to have cultural capital there must be institutions capable of valorizing certain symbolic goods and social groups capable of appropriating them. The constitution of certain cultural goods as "cultural capital" was by no means automatic, but rather required collective action on the part of elites. The first step in the vesting of cultural authority over the arts in organizations rather than persons was the creation of US art museums and symphony orchestras.