What Does It Mean to Cross Cultural Boundaries?
Michael Hannan is Professor of Sociology at Stanford University and
Professor of Management at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He is one of the most-cited American sociologists and a founder of the influential organizational ecology approach in the sociology of organizations. His current work theorizes organizational categories and typecasting processes and empirically investigates the dynamics of categories in the wine and restaurant industries. From 22 September to 3 October he will be at the WZB as a guest researcher.
We propose a typology of audiences to understand which audience segments embrace or resist category spanning objects or organizations and therefore advance or hinder category innovation. We assert that, beyond the variety seeking dimension often studied by cultural sociologists, there exists another dimension of taste for atypicality, which helps us understand audiences' reaction to category spanning. We propose a novel methodological framework to map audience heterogeneity, and we test our argument in an analysis of two large-scale datasets of reviews of films and restaurants.