, Volume 41, Issue 6, pp 527-556
Date: 05 Oct 2012

Mutual halo effects in cultural production: the case of modernist architecture

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Abstract

Previous research has suggested that in cultural production fields the concatenation of eminence explains success, defined as influence and innovation. We propose that individuals in fields as diverse as philosophy, literature, mathematics, painting, or architecture gain visibility by cumulating the eminence of others connected to them across and within generations. We draw on interaction ritual chain and social movement theories, and use evidence from the field of modernist architecture, to formulate a model of how networks of very strong ties generate motivations and emotional enthusiasm, change reputations, and form collective movements that over time transform the structure of cultural fields. Because major aesthetic innovations break sharply with older styles, they need very strong group solidarity over a long period of time to propagate a new standard of practice. We propose mutual halo effects, i.e., the reciprocal reinforcement of upstream and downstream prestige on a given individual node, as the key factor accounting for success in a cultural production field. We discuss the relevance of these results for building a model of influence and innovation in cultural production fields in which networks—reshaped by shifting technological, political, and economic conditions—trigger new styles.