Teaching Abstracts: Sociology of Creative Industries

Originally published in Section Culture: Newsletter of the ASA Culture Section. Fall 2018. Vol. 30 Issue 3.

“Sociology of Creative Industries”

Professor: Hannah Wohl
Undergraduate course at
UC, Santa Barbara

Why do catalog models make more money than runway models? How do aspiring rappers learn to freestyle? How do comedians negotiate the boundary between originality and joke theft? This course explores sociological research on creative industries, such as visual art, film, music, gastronomy, comedy, fashion, literature, academia, and technology. Rather than address each industry separately, we compare and contrast research on different creative industries to identify common concepts and phenomena. The course is organized around three main processes: production, distribution, and consumption. We identify how social contexts, especially differences in race, gender, and class, affect the ways in which people produce, distribute, and consume creative products. Topics include globalization, place branding, creative careers, collaboration, experimentation, rankings and reviews, pricing, taste patterns, meaning and materiality, authenticity, morality, and censorship. Students conduct independent secondary research on a creative industry of their choice throughout the semester. In three papers devoted respectively to production, distribution, and consumption, they analyze their research in light of lectures and course readings.