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Is Category Spanning Truly Disadvantageous? Niche Fitness and Audience Confusion in Primary and Secondary Movie Markets
Linköping University, The Institute for Analytical Sociology, IAS. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Department of Sociology, LMU Munich, Munich, Germany.
2017 (English)In: Social Forces, ISSN 0037-7732, E-ISSN 1534-7605Article in journal (Refereed) Accepted
Abstract [en]

Genre assignments help audiences make sense of new releases. Studies from a wide range of market contexts have shown that generalists defying clear mapping to established categories suffer penalties in market legitimacy, perceived quality, or audience attention. We introduce an empirical strategy to disentangle two mechanisms, reduced niche fitness and audience confusion, causing devaluation or ignorance of boundary-crossing offers. Our data on 2,971 feature films released to U.S. theaters and subsequently made available on digital versatile disc (DVD) further reveal that consequences of category spanning are subject to strong moderating influences. Negative effects are far from universal, manifesting only if (a) combined genres are culturally distant, (b) products are released to a stable and highly-institutionalized market context, and (c) offers lack familiarity as an alternative source of market recognition. Our study provides ramifications as to the scope conditions of categorization effects and modifies some widely acknowledged truisms regarding boundary crossing in cultural markets.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Oxford University Press, 2017.
Keyword [en]
Combining genres, cultural choice, film industry, niche fitness, symbolic boundaries
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-136537OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-136537DiVA: diva2:1089595
Funder
German Research Foundation (DFG), KE 2020/2-1Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, M12-0301:1
Available from: 2017-04-20 Created: 2017-04-20 Last updated: 2017-05-08

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Citation style
  • apa
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