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#1599CONTEMPORARY SOCIOLOGYVOL 33 NO 4FILE: 33402-reviews Ideology and Cultural Production455

and non-profits, artists, and globalization. The third part on the consumption of culture includes chapters on reception approaches, audience studies, and social boundaries. The fourth part has chapters on the art itself, and a chapter that returns to the issues with which the book began, the constitution of art in society. This latter chapter builds on the thesis Alexander has been developing through the prior chapters, that the meaning of art is socially constructed and reciprocally that art facilitates the construction of society. The fifth part is a brief Conclusion. Each of the chapters opens with a well chosen illustrative epigraph and a clear statement of the goals of the perspective being examined. It then explicates the perspective by critically reviewing a number of exemplary studies drawn from widely different areas of the arts. Each of the substantive chapters is followed by an intrinsically interesting five- to eight-page illustrative case study drawn from one or more linked studies, and each of these case studies is headed by three or four Points for Discussion. In the hands of a less skilled writer, this strategy of presentation could be numbingly mechanical, but Alexander seems to carry it off effortlessly. One measure of the range and even-handed exposition of the studies is that it would be impossible to guess that her own research has centered on the changing role of art museums in society. Is there nothing wrong with the book then? Well, Alexander follows a current trend among those who study the patronized fine arts to lump them together under the generic term art with the popular culture, here called popular art, that flourishes in a market economy. In her case study examples, Alexander illustrates the numerous organizational differences between the arts that depend (in part) on patronage and those that depend (entirely) on a market, but she does not make clear the many differences between the two that derive from consumers contrasting criteria of evaluation. Researchers have long distinguished between folk/communal, popular, and fine art criteria of evaluation. I think some explicit recognition of the differing discourses of evaluation would strengthen the section on the consumption of culture. One might well guess that the organization and clarity of presentation of this book come in part from years of teaching courses in the sociology of art and culture, and in fact, Alexander points to the role of students innumerable questions in clarifying her thinking and organization of the book. She also acknowledges her intellectual debts to a number of teachers and professional colleagues. That said, Alexanders way of framing the field and her careful summaries of numerous diverse studies should facilitate the research of scholars for years to come. Equally, students should enjoy reading this well illustrated text, and numerous courses on art and culture may be launched by those emboldened by having such a teachable foundation for the course.

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Adorno on Popular Culture, by Robert W. Witkin. London, UK: Routledge, 2003. 200 pp. $90.00 cloth. ISBN: 0-415-26824-9. $22.95 paper. ISBN: 0-415-26825-7.

This is a self-described critical appreciation of the work of the critical theorist, Theodor Adorno, by a British sociologist who has written previously not only about Adorno, but many of the topics of interest to him, including aesthetics, art, jazz, and so on. It has become commonplace in this age of multiculturalism, postmodernism, and even postpostmodernism to reject out of hand the thinking of the critical school in general, and Adorno in particular. Critical theorists have not only come to be seen as despised modernists, but also as elitists who seem not only to know too much, but also to possess standards that allow them to critique and dismiss many aspects of the contemporary world. In the parlance of the multiculturalists, they seem to claim that they possess the standpoint and that other standpoints are far less valid, if not irrelevant. It is their standard that allows the critical theorists, and seemingly only the critical theorists, to assess the truth value of any social phenomenon. These standards permit the critical theorists to do what they do best, critique society, especially the only culture most of us know, mass culture, and more important its producers, the culture industry. Virtually everyone feels under assault by the critical theorists
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and is made to feel inadequate, not only because of the latters obviously superior knowledge of high culture (in Adornos case, classical music is one example), but also by the fact that they, in contrast to most of us, have clear standards that allow them to render the kind of judgments (Adornos preference for Schoenberg, for example) that most others today would find impossible and in many cases (e.g., the critique of popular movies) questionable. As a result, most sociologists these days, even many social theorists, are inclined to dismiss the work of the critical school in general and Adorno in particular. Of course, this rejection is made easy by the fact that few bother to read the work before rendering such a judgment. Adorno on Popular Culture allows the critic to get a better sense of Adornos ideas without having to labor through his heavy tomes and often incomprehensible prose. Robert Witkins work is useful in this regard, although it can be seen as guilty of committing the sin of many of the cultural works criticized by Adornowresting a few nuggets from the totality of a work and thereby losing a sense of that totality and the place of each element in it. Thus, just as Adorno criticized classical music and opera for their focus on popular tunes or arias in isolation from their larger symphonic or operatic context, Witkin can be critiqued for isolating a few of Adornos ideas from their larger context. This problem is exacerbated by the structure of the book, which reads more like a series of independent essays than a coherent text, with the result that there is enormous repetition, including repetition of the relatively few ideas that were isolated from Adornos corpus for discussion. That being said, this book makes a useful contribution, especially in making it clear that some of the easy assertions about the elitism of Adorno (and other critical theorists) are far off the mark. Yes, Adorno was extraordinarily sophisticated and knew a great deal about many things, but we must not be critical of him (or anyone) for that. While he was a critic of mass culture, he liked some of it (Chaplin, the Marx Brothers, and he deplored the tendency to intellectualize such comedy) and, more important, was also critical of elite culture. Thus, symphonic music (especially that of Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff), and opera (especially
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Wagner), as well as the star system of composers and conductors that has become so central to those worlds, were also subjected to a withering critique by Adorno. But these judgments were not merely a matter of taste, or more specifically Adorno s seemingly more sophisticated taste, but rather derived from a theoretical standard, dialectical Marxian view of the part-whole relationship, which was applied in a dispassionate way to all art, high and low. Thus, Adorno cannot be dismissed as an elitist both because he was critical of much of high culture and because his judgments were not based on his possession of better taste than the rest of us. Rather, he applied a theoretical idea (much like Marx did with species being) to all realms of the cultural world. There is a ring of truth in Adornos critique of culture, both high and low. Many of todays opera and symphony goers are pretty unsophisticated and to attend, among other Delivered by Ingenta reasons, to hear a favorite tune or aria (or see User Unknown a star conductor or singer), and have little IP: 212.159.124.238 interest in, or understanding of, the entirety 2004..12..29..14..04.. of which it is (or should be) a part. There is a similar feeling of truth to Adornos critique of mass culture, for example, in jazz. There is a tendency among academics to deify jazz as a truly innovative art form and to applaud the improvisation characteristic of jazz pieces and jazz musicians. It appears on the surface to avoid the standardization and rationalization of which Adorno (and the Frankfurt School) were so critical. The traditional view is that after a few minutes of playing a tune, each member of a jazz band is then free to improvise making each rendition unique. While this is true, it is also the case, as Adorno points out, that there is standardization to all of this; after playing together each member predictably does a riff of his or her own. Jazz aficionados may not like this view, but it has much the same kind of truth-value as Adornos critique of much symphonic and operatic music. In spite of the validity of many of the muticultural and postmodern critiques, social theorists and sociologists more generally need to have standards and to use them to make judgments. Without such standards and judgments, theory and sociology become thoroughly denuded. Adorno develops a series of standards derived from theory (in his case, Marxian theory) and uses them to

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critique various cultural (and social) forms. We may not agree with his particular standards, theory, or judgments, but we must agree with his commitment to use theory to develop standards in order to render judgments about the social and cultural world. This is not to say that Adorno is faultless. For example, Witkin points out that Adorno often did empirical research (on radio programs, for example) in which he paid little or no attention to the data and, in any case, did not and would not let such a trifling matter as data interfere with his preordained theoretical judgments. There is more to this book than merely an exegesis on Adorno: Witkin offers a number of criticisms of Adorno, as well as his own analyses of popular culture. For example, he offers a positive view of some of Woody Allens movies (many of his recent movies are mercifully ignored) and argues that Adorno was generally unable to see the strength in some popular culture. That critique seems to be contradicted by Adornos aforementioned appreciation of Chaplin and the Marx Brothers. In any case, the main reason to read this book is not to learn about the authors thinking, but to get a better appreciation for the continuing relevance of Adorno and his critical thinking, as well as his uncompromising negative dialectics in which there is acceptance of the impossibility of a positive reaction to our alienated condition, the rupture is acknowledged, and resistance is accepted in the form of refusing to overcome the rupture. It is not a very romantic conclusion, but Adorno was highly critical of romanticism not just in classical music and opera (e.g., Tchaikovsky, Wagner), but in all of its many guises. One final note. This book makes it clear that Adorno was one of those pioneers who extended theory from production to leisure and consumption. Sociologists and social theorists not only have much to learn from the specific content of Adornos work, but many more ought to be following his lead and devoting more attention to the realm of leisure/consumption, which he had already recognized as one of growing importance decades ago. The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction, by Jonathan Sterne. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003. 472 pp. $69.95 cloth. ISBN: 0-8223-3004-0. $22.95 paper. ISBN: 0-8223-3013-X.

WILLIAM G. ROY
University of California-Los Angeles billroy@soc.ucla.edu I tell my undergraduate students that sociology can help us see the familiar world in new ways and introduce us to parts of social life that are far removed from our own experience. Jonathan Sternes The Audible Past is a remarkable book that does both. It addresses the technology, science, culture, and business of sound reproduction; how sound is mediated by objects, from the stethoscope to the cell phone. While scholarship has thoroughly interrogated vision, as evident in the literal and by metaphorical prominence of such Delivered Ingenta to terms as gaze, image, vision, and seeing, User Unknown there has not been much attention paid to IP: 212.159.124.238 sound, especially mediated sound. This book 2004..12..29..14..04.. will indelibly change how the reader listens to the radio, telephone, and CD player. It achieves this not by elucidating the experience of listening but by probing the history of how sound has been mediated. In modern life, sound becomes a problem: an object to be contemplated, reconstructed, and manipulated, something that can be fragmented, industrialized, and bought and sold (p. 9). While some authors would be content to document this important but not terribly original insight, Sterne brilliantly probes how and why sound has been problematized and mediated in the modern world. Sternes basic thesis is that while the ways in which sound has been mediated by objects has taken characteristically modern forms, the particular technology, understandings, institutional settings, and modalities of sound have not been inevitable, but must be concretely explained with historical inquiry. He resists the temptation to describe new developments as revolutionary, but frequently emphasizes the continuity beneath apparently novel developments. He astutely avoids the common tendency to inflate the importance of the changes he is studying by exaggerating the extent of change, frequently
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