Do more experienced critics review differently? How field-specific cultural capital influences the judgments of cultural intermediaries

Matteo Corciolani*, Kent Grayson, Ashlee Humphreys

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Purpose: Cultural intermediaries define the standards many consumers use when evaluating cultural products. Yet, little research has focused on whether cultural intermediaries may systematically differ from each other with regard to the standards they emphasize. The purpose of this paper is to build on Bourdieu’s theory of cultural production to examine how the type of subfield reviewed and/or the cultural intermediary’s expertise (or “field-specific cultural capital”) affect the standards an intermediary uses. Design/methodology/approach: This paper employed a computer-aided content analysis of the full corpus of “Rolling Stone” music album reviews (1967-2014). Findings: Critics with lower field-specific cultural capital reflect the same logic as the subfield they are critiquing. Critics with higher field-specific cultural capital reflect the opposite logic. Research limitations/implications: Bourdieu was ambivalent about whether cultural intermediaries will reflect the logic of a subfield. Results show that the answer depends on the intermediary’s field-specific cultural capital. The results also reinforce previous findings that individuals with high field-specific cultural capital are more likely to break with the logic of a field. Practical implications: Not all intermediaries are created equal. Producers and consumers who rely on cultural intermediaries should understand the intermediary’s critical analysis within the context of his/her experience. Originality/value: This is one of the first studies to examine how a cultural intermediary’s field-specific cultural capital impacts his or her work. The findings are based on a large review sample and include reviewers’ analyses as they developed from having lower to higher field-specific cultural capital.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)478-510
Number of pages33
JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 5 2020


  • Authenticity
  • Automated content analysis
  • Cultural intermediaries
  • Field-specific cultural capital
  • Fields
  • Popular music
  • Reviews

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Marketing


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