The idea of cultural reproduction was first developed by Bourdieu who saw the function of the education system as being to reproduce the culture of the dominant classes, helping to ensure their continued dominance. Through his concepts of "cultural capital" and "habitus" Bourdieu's influence spread into other areas of socialization and high culture. However, despite the complex of influences that make up Bourdieu's theories, sociologists of culture and students of cultural studies seem to have picked up on the negative and critical elements in the work of Bourdieu's theories on reproduction. In particular, they developed the metaphor of reproduction as copy or imitation rather than reproduction as regeneration and synthesis. As a consequence, "cultural reproduction" has become part of the orthodoxy of studies in the theory of ideology and neo-Marxisms. While still addressing this well established theme of ideology and structural determinacy including cultural reproduction theory, the contributors original essays seeks also to explore other possiblities, in terms of ethnomethodology, Durkheimianism, structuralism and poststructuralism--many of the arguments put forward also confront the most contemporary challenges presented by postmodernism. The papers address an unusually wide spectrum of cultural formations including gender roles, fine art, film, journalism, education, consumerism, style, language and sociology itself. The Introduction discusses the origin and development of the concept of cultural reproduction and shows the variety of analytic possibilities within several traditions of social theorizing, all later expanded in the body of the text.
Most of the contributors are academics working in the area of sociology of communication studies. A;; have taught in and have continuing research interests in the sociology of culture.
"This is a stunning collection of essays. It poses some very important challenges in the debate over postmodernism; it is an invitation to sociologists and students to break free from the analytical inertia of mainstream sociological discourse. It will be a difficult book to ignore in the coming years."
-Peter McLaren, Miami University