Publishers, Authors, and Texts: The Process of Cultural Consecration in Prize Evaluation

Clayton Childress, Craig M. Rawlings, Brian Moeran

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    As cultural objects are of subjective quality, the determinants of their consecration as being of lasting value is a common focus of research. Most typically, scholars look to three constituent features of cultural objects: 1) the characteristics of their creators, 2) the statuses of their sponsoring organizations, and 3) more limitedly, the textual features of the objects themselves. Rather than treating these features as independently assigned, Bourdieu argues they are different manifestations of the same latent positional and dispositional spaces in the field from which new cultural objects emerge. Using a new dataset on the full population of submissions to the Booker Prize for Fiction over nine years (N = 1094), we rely on a suite of characteristics across these three areas of foci to examine the latent positions in the field through which “art” is defined and consecrated. Findings show the consecration process begins with publishers’ nominations, which reflect a relational field of competing positions occupied by different groups under the canopy of the former British Empire. Afterward, juries’ decisions of shortlisters and then winners reveal how consecration emerges through a distancing from England-centered voices, followed by a growing preference for legitimation by the literary establishment, and male over female voices.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)48-61
    Number of pages14
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017


    • Consecration
    • Literary field
    • Prizes and awards

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