Culture and microsociology: The anthill and the veldt

Gary Alan Fine, Corey D. Fields

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


The authors argue that sociologists must use the investigation of interpersonal situations as a strategy through which "culture" can be understood in practice. Culture includes a broad range of social processes, institutions, and value systems. In contrast to perspectives that treat groups and individuals as units to be shaped by powerful cultural forces, the authors contend that culture is established, manipulated, and promoted by individuals and groups. Microsituations serve as arenas of action in their own right, locations where culture is both produced and experienced. Drawing examples from five areas of microsociology-groups, cognition, identity/ self, performance, and emotion-the authors demonstrate how a distinctively microsociological perspective allows sociologists to examine how culture, across its various conceptions, has an effect on actors and, in turn, is affected by actors. By exposing the workings of culture in situ, microsociology forces us to theorize the connections between meaning, behavior, and structure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-148
Number of pages19
JournalAnnals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2008


  • Cognition
  • Culture
  • Emotion
  • Identity
  • Interaction
  • Microsociology
  • Small groups
  • Social psychology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences


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