Cultures of choice: towards a sociology of choice as a cultural phenomenon

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The article explores different ways to conceptualize the relationship between choice and culture. These two notions are often constructed as opposites: while sociologies of modernization (such as Giddens’) portray a shift from cultural traditions to culturally disembedded choice, dispositional sociologies (such as Bourdieu's) uncover cultural determination as the hidden truth behind apparent choice. However, choice may be real and cultural simultaneously. Culture moulds choice not only by inculcating dispositions or shaping repertoires of alternatives, but also by offering culturally specific choice practices, ways of choosing embedded in meaning, normativity, and materiality; and by shaping attributions of choice in everyday life. By bringing together insights from rival schools, I portray an outline for a comparative cultural sociology of choice, and demonstrate its purchase while discussing the digitalization of choice; and cultural logics that shape choice attribution in ways opposing neoliberal trends.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)845-864
Number of pages20
JournalBritish Journal of Sociology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© London School of Economics and Political Science 2017


  • Bourdieu
  • Giddens
  • choice
  • choosing techniques
  • consent
  • culture
  • digitalization
  • neoliberalism
  • online dating
  • sociological theory


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