With the generalization of cultural sociology, however, the critical impact has vanished. Sociology has ceased to be demystifying because it has become the way everyone thinks. Discussions about the arts now have an awkward, paralyzed quality: few judgments about the independent excellences of works are offered, but everyone wants to know who sat on the jury that gave out the award. It’s become natural to imagine that networks of power are responsible for the success or failure of works of art, rather than any creative power of the artist herself.
It’s a basic tenet of much Marxist-related thinking that the individual is not a coherent unit of sociopolitical analysis; only the study of class, gender and race (plus a few other distinctions that the article mentions) reveals the interests and forces at work in the body politic. And so, in what I’m starting to think of as the blogtwitosphere —the part of the Internet consisting mainly of social media peacocking and posturing, pop/youth/geek culture enthusiasm, self-congratulatory “I see what you did there” humor, malignant snarkomas, and vaguely progressive woo-girlish politics — you get a lot of former humanities students who offer up half-baked analysis of pop culture by way of irrelevant metrics. It’s enough to make me glad I never went to college.