An article in the current issue of Sociological Theory explores the status-hierarchy created by celebrity, a kind of status ignored by Weber in his treatment of status in capitalist societies. The abstract says,
"Max Weber's fragmentary writings on social status suggest that differentiation on this basis should disappear as capitalism develops. However, many of Weber's examples of status refer to the United States, which Weber held to be the epitome of capitalist development. Weber hints at a second form of status, one generated by capitalism, which might reconcile this contradiction, and later theorists emphasize the continuing importance of status hierarchies. This article argues that such theories have missed one of the most important forms of contemporary status: celebrity. Celebrity is an omnipresent feature of contemporary society, blazing lasting impressions in the memories of all who cross its path. In keeping with Weber's conception of status, celebrity has come to dominate status 'honor,' generate enormous economic benefits, and lay claim to certain legal privileges. Compared with other types of status, however, celebrity is status on speed. It confers honor in days, not generations; it decays over time, rather than accumulating; and it demands a constant supply of new recruits, rather than erecting barriers to entry."
posted by Peter J. Leithart on Saturday, November 17, 2007 at 07:43 AM
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