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Culture and Society: Understanding Theories of Culture

A guide to library resources (e.g. books, databases, encyclopedias) related to the sociology of culture.

Understanding Theories of Culture

Do not feel embarrassed if you are experiencing some difficulty understanding sociological theories of culture!  Some scholars have built their entire careers interpreting what these theorists say.  Pierre Bourdieu, in particular, is has a writing style that can be difficult for new sociologists to understand.  For this reason, you might also consider using secondary sources to help you understand the theory you read.  Below you will find summaries and explanations of classic theoretical texts.

For example, Cheryl Robinson, of the University of Huddersfield, has a series of YouTube videos explaining core concepts in Bourdieu's work.  Her video on Bourdieu's field theory is below: 

Books for Better Understanding Cultural Theory

Encyclopedias and Dictionaries

Encyclopedias and dictionaries are a great way to get an overview of a new topic.  A good encyclopedia will have entries written by eminent scholars in the field and will point you to the key readings in a subfield.  

You can find general sociology dictionaries and encyclopedias under the subject headings: 

We also have a variety of reference databases where you can look up a concept and see where it appears in different reference resources.  For example, if you search "habitus" in Credo Reference Unlimited, you'll see that it appears in the following dictionaries, all of which are accessible online: 

Other digital reference sources include: 

Oxford Bibliographies

Oxford publishes bibliographies on a variety of academic topics, written by experts in the field.  The bibliographies always begin with an overview of the topic, followed by additional readings on the subject.  

Check out the entry for Max Weber, which lists his works in German and selected English translations.

Max Weber. Photo from

Fun with Theory

Max Weber As Told By Emojis by Stanford University Press Blog


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