This study explains four ways cultural marginality is managed when it comes to the issue of cultural production, both by the producers themselves and by field-specific cultural authorities. To do so, it revives the pre-war concepts of ‘the marginal man’ and ‘marginal culture’ and reframes them in terms of overlapping social structures. As a case of this general phenomenon, this project investigates the public discourse and performances of 22 Calvinist hip-hop artists affiliated with five independent start-up record labels, showing how they navigate their place on the margins of both mainstream American hip-hop and their conservative religious movement. The findings specify four mechanisms for the management of marginality. The first two pertain to the ways cultural authorities approach marginal artists as object, namely: authorities function as gatekeepers who grant moral acceptability upon the marginal product and who conspicuously display the marginal product and its producers to demonstrate their own commitments to diversity and inclusion. The second two mechanisms speak to the ways marginal artists, as subjects, manage their own marginality, namely: these artists draw symbolic boundaries to avoid being pigeonholed and they insist upon the unity of their self-understandings to foster authenticity. The article ends by discussing how this work contributes to the sociology of religion, sociological theory and cultural sociology.
American Journal of Cultural Sociology – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 12, 2016