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Cultural Analysis in Greece

In Search of a Cultural Sociology

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Handbuch Kultursoziologie

Abstract

The chapter presents an overview of cultural analysis in Greece during the last three decades, accounting for its institutional determinants. The “cultural turn” promoted a notably rich but no less scattered discussion. We showcase this using Diana Crane’s concept of “free-floating paradigm” which fits well enough to the cultural analysis in Greece as an open-ended set of theoretical and methodological settings shared by different social science disciplines. We also employ Wendy Griswold’s “cultural diamond” as a heuristic tool to classify a corpus of more than 250 theoretical and empirical studies. Greek scholars preferred qualitative media content analysis (mainly TV and cinema), focusing on issues of general interest like national identity, immigration, and city life. They are less interested in the sociology of cultural producers, the consumption of cultural goods and the shaping of cultural policy, while just a few of them are self-defined as cultural sociologists. Most of the studies are individual-centered desk research projects.

Nicolas Demertzis is Professor of Political Sociology and Communication at the University of Athens and Director of the National Center for Social Research (EKKE). Nicos Souliotis is researcher at EKKE. George Markatas is PhD candidate of cultural sociology at the University of Athens.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    As Philip Smith maintains, “European cultural theory, British cultural studies, and American cultural sociology are different animals almost by definition” (Smith 1998, p. 5).

  2. 2.

    In fact, the Anglophone “sociology of art” refers to what the French would call “cultural history”, “aesthetic sociology”, or “social history of art” (Heinich 2010).

  3. 3.

    On this account, Crane (2010) generically posits what she calls “cultural sciences” as the wider framework for studying meaning making. This framework accommodates, among others, cultural sociology per se, cultural history, visual culture, material culture, cultural studies, communication and media studies.

  4. 4.

    In this respect, Hall, Grindstaff and Lo’s (2010, p. 2–3) “broad program” according to which cultural sociology is sociology tout court, i.e. “a general sociology that is cultural on every front, in every subdiscipline”, a position shared by Alexander, Jacobs and Smith’s “strong program” (2012), is too sweeping and reflects a sort of academic imperialism. It is more than a “meaning-aware sociology”.

  5. 5.

    Regarding the influence of German sociological thinking on early Greek sociologists see Alexandros-Andreas Kyrtsis (1998).

  6. 6.

    Among 72 authors working on cultural issues of whom we have the relevant information (on the selection criteria see below), only 31 have conducted their PhD studies in Greece. As for the rest, 19 have studied in France and 13 in the UK, 2 in the USA, and another 2 in Bulgaria. Another 5 have completed their doctoral studies in Germany, Switzerland, Italy, the Netherlands, and Sweden.

  7. 7.

    For example, the department of Sociology in Panteion University of Athens was created in 1983, that of the University of Crete in 1984 and the department of Sociology in the University of the Aegean in 1999. Since 1988 and 2004 Bachelor’s degree programs in Social Anthropology were offered by the University of the Aegean and the Panteion University respectively.

  8. 8.

    On the criteria of the selection of these titles see below.

  9. 9.

    As mentioned above, sociology of culture and cultural sociology per se do not exist as distinct scientific subfields in Greece. It is characteristic that among the 100 university professors having a tenure post on some sociological expertise, only three are specialized in the “sociology of culture” (source: Table of teaching stuff of Greek universities, available in https://eklektorika.aegean.gr/node/216, accessed 20.02.2015).

  10. 10.

    In this chapter we present a selection of 41 authors and 85 titles which credibly portrait cultural analysis in Greece.

  11. 11.

    For example, two of the most important cultural institutions of Greece, the Athens Concert Hall and the Onassis Cultural Center, were founded in 1991 and 2004 respectively. A comprehensive Opera Hall is still missing but is currently under construction with the funding of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

  12. 12.

    Almost seventy from a total of two hundred and fifty titles of our list cope with Greek and international cinema.

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Demertzis, N., Souliotis, N., Markatas, G. (2019). Cultural Analysis in Greece. In: Moebius, S., Nungesser, F., Scherke, K. (eds) Handbuch Kultursoziologie. Springer Reference Sozialwissenschaften. Springer VS, Wiesbaden. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-658-07616-0_14

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