|Title:||Processing Fads and Fashions: An Organization-Set Analysis of Cultural Industry Systems|
|Author(s):||Hirsch, P. H.|
|Citation:||Hirsch, P. M. (1972). Processing Fads and Fashions: An Organization-Set Analysis of Cultural Industry Systems. American journal of sociology, 639-659.|
|Link(s):||Definitive , Open Access|
|Key Related Studies:|
|About the Data|
|Data Description:||To gather data the author conducted an extensive sampling of trade papers directed at members of the movie, music and book publishing industries,. primarily: - Publishers' Weekly, Billboard and Variety. Also conducted 53 open-ended interviews with individuals at all levels of the publishing, recording and broadcasting industries; and a thorough review of available secondary sources.|
|Data Type:||Primary and Secondary data|
|Secondary Data Sources:|
|Data Collection Methods:|
|Data Analysis Methods:|
|Cross Country Study?:||No|
|Government or policy study?:||No|
|Time Period(s) of Collection:||
Organizations engaged in the production and mass distribution of “cultural" items often are confronted by highly uncertain environments at their input and output boundaries. This paper outlines the structure and operation of entrepreneurial organizations in the most speculative segments of three cultural industries : book publishing, phonograph records and motion pictures. Commercial "cultural" products are conceived as “non-material" goods, directed at a mass public of consumers, for whom they serve an "esthetic," rather than a clearly "utilitarian" purpose. Three adaptive "coping" strategies are set forth and examined: the deployment of "contact" men to organizational boundaries; overproductioll and differential promotion of new items; and the cooptation of mass media gatekeepers. The concept of an "industry system" is proposed as a useful frame of reference in which to trace the filtering of new products and ideas as they flow from producer to consumer, and in which to examine relations among organizations. This substantive area, seldom viewed from an organizational perspective, is then related to a growing body of literature in the sub-field of interorganizational relations.
Main Results of the Study
The paper outline s the structure and operation of entrepreneurial organizations engaged in the production and mass distribution of three types of "cultural" items: books, recordings and motion pictures. Focusing specifically on publishing houses, movie production companies and record companies. The paper outlined 3 main strategies employed to limit dependence of elements in their “task environment” and to fight constraints on output distribution imposed by gatekeepers and contingencies in recruiting creative material.
- Using contact men in organisational boundaries: The role of the contact men who are talent scouts, promoters, press agents etc. is to link cultural organisations with the artist community
- Differential promotion of new items and overproduction: This is in response to low capital investment and demand uncertainty. This causes resources such as promotional materials to be distributed unevenly with emphasis on only a few items. There is thus an expectation that many new cultural items will fail.
- Cooptation of mass media gatekeepers: An example of this would be a record company advertising in the trade press or encouraging a gatekeeper, which could be a popular radio station, to cover their new artist. This however conflicts with the interest of the gatekeeper, because if done too much it could affect the reputation of the gatekeeper negatively.
The authors conclude by introducing the concept of “industrial systems” as a frame of reference to trace the flow of new products/ideas as they are filtered at each level or organisation and to examine relationships among organisations.
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
A greater degree of independence of cultural organizations from mass media gatekeepers might result in the former avoiding the most costly and illegitimate tactics when attempting to co-opt autonomous consumer surrogates.
Coverage of Study
|Level of aggregation:||Individual|
|Period of material under study:||1972|