1932

Abstract

The study of cultural objects and their materiality has moved to the center of cultural sociology. This review synthesizes the work of this third wave of cultural sociology, demonstrating how insights from the study of cultural objects and their mechanisms of meaning-making deepen our theories of culture in action, culture and cognition, and the production and reception of culture. After placing this third wave in the historical context of cultural sociology, this review clarifies three concepts: cultural objects, material culture, and materiality. This review then makes a series of interventions around meaning-making and action based on insights from scholarship on cultural objects and materiality. First, it advocates attention to qualities in addition to symbols. Then it examines how object affordances constrain and enable meaning and use and how objects have material agency. Then the role of cultural objects in stabilizing and destabilizing meaning and social arrangements is discussed. Finally, cultural power—whether and how cultural objects shape belief and behavior—is considered through the orienting concepts of figure and ground.

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2023-07-31
2024-05-27
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