Identity from Symbolic Networks: The Rise of New Hollywood.
What factors shape the allocation of peer recognition in Hollywood?
In this paper, I examine the emerging and shifting standards of peer recognition throughout three historical periods in US-American filmmaking: the Golden Age of Hollywood, the New Hollywood period, and the blockbuster era. I ask how a film's repetition of artistic content from other films - i.e., references in the form of adopted dialogue snippets, camera shots etc. - shape its chances of being referenced. I examine to what extent novelty, literacy, and openness of the used references influence a film's attracted references. I analyze the reference styles of 4,418 US-American films released between 1930-1990 and show how the standards for peer recognition emerge and evolve over time. While films of the Golden Age were particularly recognized for including novel references, films of the New Hollywood and Blockbuster era benefitted from signaling literacy – i.e., including many references – and openness – i.e., using European references. With this research, I contribute to the current debate in the sociology of culture that seeks to understand how an artwork's qualities shape its recognition through contemporary audiences.
The emergence of status orders in Hollywood filmmaking.
How do status orders emerge in cultural fields? Our study sheds new light on this question by investigating the interplay of networks, status, and culture among Hollywood filmmakers from 1920 to 2000. Information on artistic references and collaborations of more than 13,000 filmmakers retrieved from the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) allows us to examine long-term changes in the social organization of this cultural field. Our findings suggest that the distribution of social recognition—measured by filmmakers’ prominence in collaborative ties and artistic references—became more stratified as the field grew and matured. Furthermore, collaborations increasingly exhibited segregation according to filmmakers’ artistic status during the New Hollywood era (1960-1985). This period was characterized by the rising prominence of a new generation of filmmakers who established film as an art form in the U.S. Our article shows that contextual characteristics, such as a field’s size and institutional environment, can foster or impede stratification and segregation in collaborative networks among cultural producers. This paper is co-written with Mark Wittek (University of Cologne).
This article discusses the benefits and challenges of using archival data in social science research. We illustrate that, despite challenges, seemingly “hard-to-get” archival data are often ideally suited to answer the kinds of research questions that analytical sociologists ask. We further distinguish traditional tangible archives—repositories of manuscripts that need to be accessed in person—and new digital archives such as the IMDb that are often associated with the idea of “big data”. Drawing both on exemplary studies in analytical sociology and our own experience with archival data sources, we consider where the latter offer new solutions for old problems and avenues for addressing important new questions. This paper is co-written with Henning Hillmann and was published in the Research Handbook on Analytical Sociology, edited by Gianluca Manzo. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar. [Learn more]
The film festival sector and its networked structures of gender inequality.