Cultural Classification Systems in Transition

The Social Valuation of Cultural Goods in France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States, 1955-2005

This research project aims at clarifying and qualifying the changes that have occurred in the classification of cultural products in different western societies in the past 50 years. On this website you will find more information about the project and its members.

The comparative study of cultural classification systems - that is, the ways in which members of particular societies classify cultural products and develop corresponding rules of behavior and practices - constitutes a very challenging, emerging field of research. It can greatly improve our understanding of the social nature of artistic valuation processes and practices, and, moreover, it can shed light on underlying, broader processes of social and cultural change.
Since the 1950s, cultural classification systems in western societies appear to have become more international, less universally shared, more differentiated, less hierarchical, and more strongly guided by commercial values and practices. This research program aims at clarifying and qualifying the changes that seem to have occurred in the classification of cultural products in (different) western societies. This will be achieved by means of (i) a comprehensive comparative study of newspaper coverage of arts and culture in France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United States between 1955 and 2005 and (ii) a subsequent analysis of how overtime changes and crossnational differences in newspapers' treatment of (various) cultural products arts relate to broader social and cultural conditions in these countries.
The program aims at developing a new, integrative theoretical framework for the study of contemporary processes of cultural change. Distinctive features of the project are its multidimensional approach, its fundamentally comparative design, and its linkage of more general questions of cultural change to concrete empirical questions regarding the making and use of cultural classifications in the public sphere and the social embedding of such processes.

VICI-grant, Innovational Research Incentives Scheme
NWO-Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research
Host Institution
Dept. of Arts and Culture Studies / Dept. of Media & Communication
ERMeCC- Erasmus Research Centre for Media, Communication and Culture
Erasmus University Rotterdam

Research team

  • prof.dr. (Susanne) MSSE Janssen

    Susanne Janssen is full professor of Sociology of Media and Culture and research director of the Department of Media and Communication at the Erasmus School of…
    prof.dr. (Susanne) MSSE Janssen
  • prof.dr. (Marc) MNM Verboord

    Marc Verboord is professor of Media and Society at the Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication (ESHCC), Erasmus University Rotterdam. His research…
    prof.dr. (Marc) MNM Verboord

Other team members

Pauwke Berkers PhD Candidate, completed in 2009
Femke van Hest
PhD Candidate, completed in 2012
Annemarie Kersten
PhD Candidate, completed in 2012
Vaughn Schmutz
PhD Candidate, completed in 2009
Alex van Venrooij
PhD Candidate, completed in 2009
Giselinde KuipersPost-doctoral Researcher
Prof.dr. Timothy Dowd

Associate researcher

Dr. Kees van Rees

Associate researcher

Miriam van de KampResearch Assistant, PhD completed in 2009
Renee Mast, MAResearch Assistant
Mijke SlotResearch Assistant, PhD completed in 2013
Drs. Marjolein Mol

Research Assistant

Sharon van Noord MScResearch Assistant

(Inter)national cooperation

As the project addresses developments in France, Germany and the United States, specialists from/on these countries have been approached to partake in the project.

Advisory Board

The members of the project's Advisory Board serve as advisors on all kind of theoretical and methodological issues; help to establish contacts with relevant institutes in their respective countries; assist in the collection of data for these countries; and contribute to the final conference.

One of the subprojects of the CCST Project, Classifications in Music, is set up as a joint venture with Timothy Dowd and Vaughn Schmutz from Emory University.


PhD Projects

Below is a list of completed PhD projects within this research.

Pauwke Berkers (2009)
Classification into the Literary Mainstream? Ethnic Boundaries in the Literary Fields of the United States, the Netherlands, and Germany, 1955-2005
Doctoral dissertation, Erasmus University Rotterdam, 9 December 2009.
Supervisor Prof.dr. Susanne Janssen / Co-supervisor Dr. Marc Verboord Vaughn C. Schmutz (2009)

The Classification and Consecration of Popular Music. Critical Discourse and Cultural Hierarchies
Doctoral dissertation, Erasmus University Rotterdam, 9 December 2009.
Supervisors: Prof.dr. Susanne Janssen & Prof.dr. Timothy J. Dowd (Emory University) Alex van Venrooij (2009)

Classifications in Popular music. Discourses and Meaning Structures in American, Dutch and German Popular Music Reviews
Doctoral dissertation, Erasmus University Rotterdam, 9 December 2009.
Supervisors: Prof.dr. Susanne Janssen & Prof.dr. Timothy J. Dowd (Emory University) Annemarie Kersten (2012)

Terms of Enjoyment: Film Classification and Critics’ Discourse in Comparative Perspective
Doctoral dissertation, Erasmus University Rotterdam, 22 November 2012.
Supervisor: Prof.dr. Susanne Janssen / Co-supervisor Dr. Marc Verboord Femke van Hest (2012).

Territorial Factors in a Globalised Art World? The visibility of countries in international contemporary art events
Doctoral dissertation, Erasmus University Rotterdam, 1 November 2012.
Supervisor: Prof.dr. Susanne Janssen & Professor Jean-Louis Fabiani (EHESS


Monographs & Edited Volumes

Timothy J. Dowd & Susanne Janssen (Eds.) (2011).
Globalization and diversity in cultural fields: Comparative perspectives on music, literature and television.
Special issue of American Behavioral Scientist, 55(5), 519-641. Shyon

Baumann, Timothy J. Dowd & Susanne Janssen (Eds.) (2009).
Classifying culture: Agents, processes, structures.
Special Issue of Poetics. Journal of Empirical Research on Culture, the Media and the Arts, 37(4),295-398. Timothy J.

Dowd, Susanne Janssen & Marc Verboord (Eds.) (2009).
Fields in transition, Fields in action.
Special Issue of Poetics. Journal of Empirical Research on Culture, the Media and the Arts, 37(5-6), 399-506. Susanne

Janssen & Richard A. Peterson (2005).
Comparative Research on Cultural Production and Consumption.
Special issue of Poetics: Journal of Empirical Research on Culture, the Media and the Arts, 33(5-6), 253-418. Susanne

Janssen (2005)
Het soortelijk gewicht van kunst in een open samenleving. De classificatie van cultuuruitingen in Nederland en andere Westerse landen na 1950
[The Status of Art in een Open Society]
Rotterdam, 2005. ISBN 90-901-9818-0


Articles & Book Chapters (in English)

Pauwke Berkers, Susanne Janssen & Marc Verboord (2013)
Assimilation into the Literary Mainstream? The Classification of Ethnic Minority Authors in Newspaper Reviews in the United States, the Netherlands and Germany
Cultural Sociology. Online first: DOI: 10.1177/1749975513480960

Annemarie Kersten & Marc Verboord (2013)
Dimensions of Conventionality and Innovation in Film: The Cultural Classification of Blockbusters, Award Winners, and Critics’ Favourites.
Cultural Sociology. Online first: DOI: 10.1177/1749975513480959

Annemarie Kersten & Denise D. Bielby (2012)
Film Discourse on the Praised and Acclaimed: Reviewing Criteria in the United States and United Kingdom.
Popular Communication, 10,183-200.

Marc Verboord (2012)
Female bestsellers: A cross-national study of gender inequality and the popular-highbrow culture divide in fiction book production, 1960-2009.
European Journal of Communication, 27(4), 395-409. DOI: 10.1177/0267323112459433

Susanne Janssen, Marc Verboord & Giselinde Kuipers (2011).
Comparing Cultural Classification. High and Popular Arts in European and U.S. Elite Newspapers, 1955-2005.
KZfSS Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie, 63 (special issue 51), 139-168.

Pauwke Berkers, Susanne Janssen & Marc Verboord (2011).
Contra-flows in Literary Journalism? Coverage of Foreign, Non-Western and Ethnic Minority Literatures in French, German, Dutch and American Newspapers, 1955-2005.
In P. Broomans & E. Jiresch (Eds.).The Invasion of Books in Peripheral Literary Fields. Transmitting Preferences and Images in Media, Networks and Translation (pp. 2-48). Groningen: Barkhuis.

Pauwke Berkers, Susanne Janssen & Marc Verboord (2011).
Globalization and ethnic diversity in Western newspaper coverage of literary authors: Comparing developments in France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States, 1955-2005.
American Behavioral Scientist, 55 (5), 624-641.

Alex van Venrooij (2011).
Classifying popular music in the Netherlands and the United States.
American Behavioral Scientist, 55 (5), 609-623.

Marc Verboord, (2011).
Cultural products go online. Comparing the Internet and print media on distributions of gender, genre and commercial success.
Communications. The European Journal of Communication Research 36 (4), 441-462.

Marc Verboord (2011).
Market logic and cultural consecration in French,German and American bestseller lists, 1970–2007.
Poetics. Journal of Empirical Research on Culture, the Media and the Arts, 39, 219-315.

Vaughn Schmutz, Alex van Venrooij, Susanne Janssen & Marc Verboord (2010).
Change and continuity in newspaper coverage of popular music since 1955: Evidence from the United States, France, Germany, and the Netherlands.
Popular Music and Society,33 (4), 501-515.

Vaughn Schmutz & Alison Faupel (2010).
Gender and Cultural Consecration in Popular Music.
Social Forces,89(2), 685-705.

Alex van Venrooij & Vaughn Schmutz (2010).
The evaluation of popular music in the United States, Germany and the Netherlands:
A Comparison of the Use of High Art and Popular Aesthetic Criteria.
Cultural Sociology, 4(3), 395-421.

Marc Verboord (2010).
The legitimacy of book critics in the age of the Internet and omnivorousness: Expert critics, Internet critics and peer critics in Flanders and the Netherlands.
European Sociological Review 26 (6),623-637.

Pauwke Berkers (2009).
Ethnic Boundaries in National Literary Histories: Classification of Ethnic Minority Fiction Authors in American, Dutch and German Anthologies and Literary History Books, 1978-2006.
Poetics, 37(5-6), 419-438.

Pauwke Berkers (2009).
Ethnic Boundaries in American, Dutch and German National Literary Policies, 1965-2005.
International Journal for Cultural Policy,15(1), 35-52.

Susanne Janssen  (2009).
Foreign Literatures in National Newspapers.
Arcadia. International Journal for Literary Studies, 44(2), 77-103.

Vaughn Schmutz (2009).
Social and symbolic boundaries in newspaper coverage of popular music, 1955-2005: Gender and genre in the US, France, Germany and the Netherlands.
Poetics. Journal of Empirical Research on Culture, the Media and the Arts,37(4), 298-314.

Alex van Venrooij (2009).
The aesthetic discourse space of popular music: 1985-2005.
Poetics. Journal of Empirical Research on Culture, the Media and the Arts,37(4), 315-332.

Marc Verboord & Kees van Rees (2009).
Literary education curriculum and institutional contexts. Textbook content and teachers' textbook usage in Dutch literary education, 1968-2000.
Poetics. Journal of Empirical Research on Culture, the Media and the Arts, 37(1), 74-97.

Marc Verboord & Joost van Luijt (2009).
Peer-produced websites and legitimate culture.
Observatorio (OBS), 8, 97-121.

Diana Crane & Susanne Janssen (2008).
Cultural Globalization and American Culture.
In B. Crawford, M. Bertho & E.A. Fogarty [Eds.] The impact of globalization on the United States, Vol. I. Culture and society (pp. 129-159). New York: Praeger.

Susanne Janssen, Giselinde Kuipers & Marc Verboord (2008).
Cultural Globalization and Arts Journalism. The International Orientation of Arts and Culture Coverage in American, Dutch, French, and German Newspapers, 1955-2005.
American Sociological Review,73, 719-740.

Marc Verboord & Kees van Rees (2008).
Cultural classifications in literary education: Trends in Dutch literary textbooks 1968-2000.
Cultural Sociology, 2(3), 321-343.

Susanne Janssen (2006).
Fashion Reporting in Cross-National Perspective, 1955-2005
Poetics / Journal of Empirical Research on Culture, the Media and the Arts, 34, 383-306.

Susanne Janssen & Richard A. Peterson (2005).
The Art of Comparison: Introduction.
Poetics / Journal of Empirical Research on Culture, the Media and the Arts,33, 253-256.

Vaughn Schmutz (2005).
Retrospective Cultural Consecration in Popular Music: Rolling Stone's Greatest Albums of All Time.
American Behavioral Scientist, 48, 1510-1523.

Marc Verboord (2005).
Long-term effects of literary education on book-reading frequency: an analysis of Dutch student cohorts 1975-1998.
Poetics / Journal of Empirical Research on Culture, the Media and the Arts, 33, 253-256.

Marc Verboord (2003).
Classification of Authors by Literary Prestige.
Poetics / Journal of Empirical Research on Culture, the Media and the Arts,31(34), 259-281.

(Related previous publication) Susanne Janssen (1999).
Art journalism and Cultural Change: The Coverage of the Arts in Dutch Newspapers 1965-1990 Poetics.Journal of Empirical Research on Culture, the Media and the Arts, 26, 329-348.

(Related previous publication) Kees van Rees, J. Vermunt & Marc Verboord (1999).
Cultural Classifications under Discussion. Latent Class Analysis of Highbrow and Lowbrow Reading.
Poetics, 26, 349-365.


Articles & Book Chapters (Dutch)

Pauwke Berkers, Susanne Janssen & Marc Verboord (2010).
Assimilatie in de literaire mainstream? Ethnische grenzen in dagbladrecensies van ethnische minderheidsauteurs in de Verenigde Staten, Nederland en Duitsland.
Mens en Maatschappij, 85(3), 284-313.

Susanne Janssen (2010).
De institutionele logica van de journalistiek: onderzoek naar het journalistieke veld in het spoor van Bourdieu
Tijdschrift voor Communicatiewetenschap, 38(3),259-267.

Susanne Janssen, Marc Verboord & Giselinde Kuipers (2010).
Classificaties in de kunstjournalistiek.Hoge en populaire cultuur in Europese en Amerikaanse Elitekranten.
Sociologie, 6(4),51-77

Marc Verboord (2010).
Commercialisering, culturele consecratie en bestsellerlijstsucces in het Franse, Duitse en Amerikaanse literaire veld, 1970-2007.
Sociologie,6(1), 46-75.

Pauwke Berkers, Susanne Janssen & Marc Verboord (2009).
'Contraflows' in de literaire journalistiek? Een vergelijkende analyse van de aandacht voor niet-westerse schrijvers uit binnen- en buitenland in Amerikaanse, Duitse, Franse en Nederlandse dagbladen, 1955-2005.
Nederlandse Letterkunde,14 (3),77-103.

Susanne Janssen, Giselinde Kuipers & Marc Verboord (2008)
Cultuurberichtgeving in een tijdperk van globalisering
Tijdschrift voor Communicatiewetenschap,36(3), 70-98.

Marc Verboord & Susanne Janssen (2008).
Informatie uitwisseling in het huidige Nederlandse en Vlaamse literaire veld. Mediagebruik en gelezen boeken door literaire lezers en bemiddelaars.
In: R. Gruttemeijer & J. Oosterholt (Eds.) Een of twee literaturen? Contacten tussen de Nederlandse en Vlaamse literatuur sinds 1830 (pp. 307-322). Leuven: Peeter Publishers.

Marc Verboord (2007).
Uittrekselsites, mediaoriëntatie  en het lezen van het leesdossier door havo- en vwo-leerlingen. 
Tijdschrift voor communicatiewetenschap,35(2),141-157.

Susanne Janssen (2006).
Grenzeloze literatuur. Het internationale gehalte van de literaire berichtgeving in Duitse, Franse, Nederlandse en Amerikaanse kranten in 1955 en 1995.
In: P. Broomans et al. (red.)Object: Nederlandse literatuur in het buitenland. Methode onbekend (pp. 170-193) Groningen:Barkhuis.

Kees van Rees, Susanne Janssen & Marc Verboord (2006).
Classificatie in het culturele en literaire veld, 1975-2000. Diversificatie en nivellering van grenzen tussen culturele genres. [Classification in the Dutch literary and cultural field 1975-2000]
In: G. Dorleijn & K. van Rees (eds.) De productie van literatuur. Het literaire veld in Nederland 1800-2000 (pp. 239-283). Nijmegen: Vantilt

Susanne Janssen (2006)
De status van de kunsten in de Nederlandse pers, 1965-1990 [The status of the arts in the Dutch press, 1965-1990]
In: G. Dorleijn & K. van Rees (eds.)De productie van literatuur. Het literaire veld in Nederland 1800-2000 (pp. 199-216). Nijmegen: Vantilt

Marc Verboord (2006)
Het leesrepertoire van leerlingen in het secundair onderwijs, 1962-2005. De literatuurlijst Nederlands als culturele classificatie.
Sociologie,2, 386-415

Marc Verboord (2006)
Veranderingen in benaderingen van literatuuronderwijs. Literatuuropvattingen overgedragen door docenten Nederlands tussen 1975 en 2000.
In: G. Dorleijn & K. van Rees (eds.) De productie van literatuur. Het literaire veld in Nederland 1800-2000 (pp.217-238). Nijmegen:Vantilt

Marc Verboord (2006)
Leesplezier als sleutel tot succesvol literatuuronderwijs?
In: K. Hilberdink & S. Wagenaar (Eds.) Leescultuur onder vuur (pp. 35-51). Amsterdam: Royal Academy of Sciences

Marc Verboord, Susanne Janssen & Kees van Rees (2006)
Indicatoren voor classificatie in het culturele en literaire veld [Measuring classification in the cultural and literary field]
In: G. Dorleijn & K. van Rees (Eds.) De productie van literatuur. Het literaire veld in Nederland 1800-2000 (pp. 285-310). Nijmegen: Vantilt

Susanne Janssen (2005)
Vervagende grenzen. De classificatie van cultuur in een open samenleving [Fading Borders. Classification of culture in an open society]
In: Hoge en Lage Cultuur [High and Low Culture]. Special issue of Boekman.Tijdschrift voor kunst, cultuur en beleid, 17 (65), 6-26

Susanne Janssen (2005)
Het soortelijk gewicht van kunst in een open samenleving  [The status of art in an open society]
Sociologie, 1 (3), 292-315

Marc Verboord (2004)
Auteursclassificaties in literatuurmethoden Nederlands 1968-2000
Nederlandse Letterkunde, 9 (4), 380-403

Susanne Janssen (2003)
Kunstjournalisten in de kijker.
Een onderzoek naar de achtergrondkenmerken, beroepspraktijk en professionele opvattingen van kunstmedewerkers van Nederlandse dag- en weekbladen [Professional features of arts journalists working for the Dutch daily and weekly press]
Boekman.Tijdschrift voor kunst, cultuur en beleid,15 (57), 15-26



Jeffrey Braithwaite: Fixing problems that never happened: how to enact safety-II?

Healthcare as a multifaceted system differs significantly from most traditional industries. Solutions based on linear thinking in engineered systems do not always work well in complicated, multi-stakeholder non-engineered systems, of which healthcare is a leading example. A prerequisite for improving healthcare and making it more resilient is that the nature of everyday clinical work be well understood. Despite the common focus on deviations, errors and failures, it is undeniable that clinical work goes right far more often than it goes wrong, and that we only can make it better if we understand how this happens.

Jessica Mesman: Exnovation: about ways of knowing and doing within real-life complexity in health Care

Jessica Mesman will reflect critically on the dominant understanding of patient safety. Improvement of patient safety should not only be based on error-reducing activities, but also on a sophisticated understanding of the vigor of health care practices. In the presentation she will focus in particular on the exnovation of the competencies of frontline clinicians to preserve adequate levels of safety within real-life complexities in health care. Taking the full range of these competencies serious requires another conceptualization of safety: one that goes beyond a binary understanding of health care reality.

New forms of regulation (the inspection of things that go right): Renate Verkaik, Annemiek Stoopendaal, Chair Paul Robben

Renate Verkaik (NIVEL) evaluated the pilot with the Short Observational Framework for Inspection (SOFI), a new inspection instrument, developed in the United Kingdom, and introduced last year to the Dutch Healthcare Inspectorate. It offers inspectors a framework to observe caregiver-client interactions and the experience of care by clients who have limited communication skills.

Annemiek Stoopendaal (ESHPM) evaluated the pilot projects System Based Regulation and Mystery Guests in the regulatory practices of the Dutch Healthcareare Inspectorate. What do care providers, and inspectors think about these new regulatory practices? Do they provide opportunities for introducing more pluriformity in the notion of quality and safety in healthcare inspections?

Narrative & generative accountability: Gerdienke Ubels, Sonja Jerak- Zuiderent

Sonja Jerak-Zuiderent challenges the taken for grantedness of our understanding of accountability. She shows that accountability and care are both highly circumstantial, emerging and relational notions, and that it is not clear-cut who or what cares or accounts for what, whom, where, and how. Taking this on-the-ground finding theoretically seriously she suggests the notion of generative accountability instead. She shows how paying due attention to the generative interweaving of accounting and caring, that is, to the narrative work of care professionals to creatively reconnect care experiences, observations, records and relations generates accountability with care. Generative accountability requires thereby attention to narrative work taking place within ecologies of safety 1, 2, 3 or X.
Click here for the presentation.

Gerdienke Ubels shows from a historical perspective how the ActiZ program ‘Renewed Quality Awareness’ (2012-2014) was developed. With roots both in narrative gerontology and generative accountability (Sonja Jerak), the program was designed to combine the practice of care organizations with scientific research and policy-making. With the program, ActiZ actively wanted to serve a qualitative turn in eldercare and find ways for a renewed story of accountability and quality with a more "story-conscious" way of engaging with the realities of both life and care.
Click here for the presentation.

New practices and technology to enact resilience in governance: Yolande Witman, Julianne Meijers

 A member of the supervisory board and the board of the Siza Zorggroep show new ways to combine governance and resilience in the care for mentally and physically handicapped people. They elaborate on some specific ‘tools’, which Siza has introduced in the last few years. Learning is the main purpose of these instruments; accounting follows the improvement of care. Some tools give patients a greater say, e.g. ‘this is what I think about it (‘Dit vind ik ervan’) and ‘dialogue’ (‘tweespraak’). Other tools aim more specifically at professional development, for instance ‘internal auditing’. They explore the consequences for governance, and address the dilemmas and questions. How to transfer individual learning to the organization / the system and vice versa? How to create time and space for reflection and sharing experiences in daily practice? Is there a need for a different role of employee participation, the supervisory board and the way of reporting?

‘Everyday life’ accountability: Suzanne Rutz, Hester van de Bovenkamp, Antoinette de Bont, Ian Leistikow

This workshop focuses on the issue of patient/client participation based on amongst others research into the participation of young people in the work of the joint Inspectorate for Youth. We will further explore the issue of how to do justice to the experience of clients/patients in inspection work, that workshop 1A already touched upon. Here we focus on the active participation of patients in the work of Inspectorates. Inspectorates have developed several methods aiming to actively involve patients/clients of health care services. The assumption is that active citizenship empowers people to voice their opinion on matters that influence their lives. In addition, it is assumed that active citizenship will increase effectiveness and quality of services provided to them.

Yet, it proves difficult for inspectors to incorporate the input of users in assessments which leads them to put the issues users raise aside. If participation is taken seriously, inspectorate should be willing to discuss their own criteria and frameworks. The question is if they are willing to and if so how this should be done.

Kieran Walshe: The regulatory response: how regulation might help or hinder organisational innovation, resilience, safety and improvement?

Healthcare regulation is often characterised by regulated entities as a burdensome, bureaucratic straitjacket which limits or constrains their abilities to innovate and particularly to improve quality and safety. Little empirical evidence is offered to support these assertions but they have widespread intuitive appeal to healthcare providers in particular. Regulators have been slow to build a research base for their regulatory regimes and to evaluate their impacts.

This presentation will explore how regulators can build and use logic models of their regulatory regime both to improve regulatory design and to serve as the basis for ongoing regulatory evaluation. It will examine how regulators seek to influence organisational behaviour through their regulatory interventions and will argue that external oversight by regulators is an important tool for improving safety and quality, not a barrier to such improvement.

CCST Portal Media & Culture

The CCST project has drawn on a variety of online sources to map and examine longterm developments in each country with respect to: 

  • the national press, the journalistic field and the surrounding media system;
  • production and supply of various categories of cultural goods;
  • import/export ratios for various forms of culture;
  • cultural participation, media use, and consumer demand for various cultural products;
  • cultural policies and level of state support for various cultural products;
  • the educational system;
  • social stratification.

These sources have all been included in the CCST Media & Culture Portal  which is freely accessible for interested students and researchers.

This project was funded by NWO and VICI


For more information about the funding, please see the NWO website.

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