What is Cultural Sociology?
What is Cultural Sociology?

Culture, cultural difference, and cultural conflict always surround us. Cultural sociologists aim to understand their role across all aspects of social life by examining processes of meaning-making.

In this crisp and accessible book, Lyn Spillman demonstrates many of the conceptual tools cultural sociologists use to explore how people make meaning. Drawing on vivid examples, she offers a compelling analytical framework within which to view the entire field of cultural sociology. In each chapter, she introduces a different angle of vision, with distinct but compatible approaches for explaining culture and its role in social life: analyzing symbolic forms, meaning-making in interaction, and organized production.

This book both offers a concise answer to the question of what cultural sociology is and provides an overview of the fundamental approaches in the field.

Show More
Buy Now

From Wiley.com

Order Exam Copy

For Lecturers Only

More Info
  • January 2020
  • 160 pages
  • 143 x 219 mm / 6 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $59.95
  • 9781509522804
  • Paperback $19.95
  • 9781509522811
  • Open eBook $9.99
  • 9781509522842
Table of Contents
1. Introduction
2. Making Meaning Central
3. Meaning and Interaction
4. Producing Meaning
5. Conclusion: Landscapes, Stages, and Fields
About the Author
Lyn Spillman is Professor of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame
Show More


What is Cultural Sociology? reveals Spillman's remarkable ability for analytical synthesis, and her knowledge of (often little-known) empirical studies adds welcome depth to her theoretical discussion. Rather than posing cultural sociology as a battle between schools, Spillman reconstructs it as a relatively coherent model of social life, developing a sophisticated and compelling model that provides an organizing frame for the entire cultural sociological field.”
Jeffrey C. Alexander, Yale University, and Co-Director, Center for Cultural Sociology

“Spillman has produced a particularly smart, sound, clear, and up-to-date description of the state of the field of cultural sociology. With a focus on meaning-making and cultural processes, she takes stock and provides an excellent account of what this popular field has to offer after thirty exciting years of dynamic growth. Her book should become an essential tool for all sociologists and a popular reference source.”
Michèle Lamont, Harvard University and former President of the American Sociological Association

Show More