Academic journal article Polish Sociological Review

Beyond Economic and Cultural Capital: Network Correlates of Consumption Tastes and Practices

Academic journal article Polish Sociological Review

Beyond Economic and Cultural Capital: Network Correlates of Consumption Tastes and Practices

Article excerpt

Introduction

According to a common sense intuition, expressed in proverbs such as: "birds of a feather flock together" or "who keeps company with the wolves will learn to howl," what we think, like or do depends on or affects with whom we keep in touch or where we belong to. The paper is a part of an ongoing debate concerning the mutual links between social network characteristics (e.g. size, intensity, diversity or density) and cultural preferences, knowledge and activities. How do social contacts and their structure affect the cultural repertoire of individuals and how does the latter (e.g. type of knowledge or preferences for different cultural genres) shape personal contacts and ties?

This research topic derives from the classical sociological problem pertaining to a relation between social structure and culture and expands it into social networks (DiMaggio 1987). Although the idea that culture is in some relations to structural factors (irrespective of the direction of the causal relationship) is well known in sociology, the role of social networks (or social capital) seems to remain a blind spot (DiMaggio 2004). In the traditional framework, the main research focus was rather on the link between social positions (classes or statuses) and cultural tastes or practices (with no reference to personal ties). In this area three main arguments were formulated: a) the homology argument, b) the individualization or neotribalism argument and c) the omnivore-univore argument (Chan and Goldthorpe 2007; López-Sintas and Garcia-Álvarez 2002; Cebula 2013). For example, although Pierre Bourdieu considers the roles played by different forms of capital in the construction of social space and reveals mechanisms underlying processes of social reproduction, e.g. transmission of capital in the families, accumulation and convertibility of its different types (Bourdieu 1997; Bourdieu and Passeron 2013), in his empirical research (Bourdieu 2000) "the concepts of economic and cultural capital perform the entire analytical work, while social capital disappears from the stage" (Cveticanin and Popescu, 2011: 444; cf. Erickson, 1996; Warde and Tampubolon 2002; Kane 2004). He does not use the term very often to analyze consumption empirically and does not fully theorize the directional link from cultural to social capital (or inversely).

The paper is a tentative attempt to fill this void by using and developing the concept of social capital, and social networks in particular, and testing it in the study of consumption tastes and practices in Polish society. By tackling the problem of networks-consumption link, the project contributes to better understanding the mechanisms of social structuralization and cultural participation in Poland (cf. Drozdowski et ah, 2014). The most recent research indicate that social connections matter. Basing on data from panel study conducted on a national sample in Poland, Kazimierz M. Stomczynski and Irina Tomescu-Dubrow (2007) have argued that having a large number of nonredundant friends (friends who do not know each other) is conducive to income performance-it works as a social capital (giving an access to new information, influence, social credentials, identity reinforcement). Similarly, the results of research on the lives of "transformation generation" (meaning the 18-year-olds of 1989) have given grounds to the conclusion that social networks play an important role in professional careers (e.g. job searching, upward mobility) and in psychological functioning of individuals (e.g. self-assessment) (Sadowski 2012). Different kinds of social capital (so called "bridging" and "bonding") can have divergent effects on social functioning and attitudes (Growiec 2011). The latter is more likely to be responsible for low level of widespread trust among people and conducive to authoritarian orientation, the former goes hand in hand with greater life satisfaction and leads to innovative behaviour.

These works show promising connections between networks and many other variables that heighten the desire for extending the network analysis into cultural preferences and practices. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.