Doing sociology and culture: Richard Peterson's quest and contribution

Paul M. Hirsch*, Peer C. Fiss

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Within the discipline of sociology, approaches to studying culture have shifted markedly over the last forty years. In this article, we review these changes as well as Richard Peterson's contributions to the field, arguing that his work played a vital role in developing the study of culture as a legitimate subject. While studies of culture were marginal during sociology's structural period of the 1960s, the 'production of culture' perspective of the 1970s established the arts as a legitimate topic by applying structural analysis to the popular culture industry and focusing on the organizational processes that constrain aesthetic choices. This depoliticizing of culture opened up the field for the developments of the 1980s and 1990s, which saw a rapid growth of interest in the analysis of cultural meaning as well as a broader conceptualization of culture. By considering Peterson's contributions along this time line, we show how his work contributed to current theories of culture, and how these theories have been applied to the arts in general, and to the music industry in particular.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-105
Number of pages9
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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