Culture and Networks in Online Social Fields. Studying the Duality of Culture and Structure in Social Media through Bourdieu’s Theory and Social Network Analysis

Marco Serino


This paper sets forth a theoretical and methodological framework to examine the interplay between networks and culture by considering how tastes and distinctive practices are conveyed via the use of social media, where online interactions occur among users and between these latter and online shared contents. Conceiving of social structure as networks of online connection among social media users, and of culture as networks of symbolic elements shared by them on these platforms, the paper contends that interactions in online fields can be analysed through both Bourdieusian theory and social network analysis (SNA). Methodological foundations of this perspective stem from a common ground lying in the so-called ‘cultural matrix approach’, by which the interplay between structure and culture can be formalized through conventional ‘people-by-choice’ data tables or through matrices representing affiliation networks, where actors are connected to each other thanks to the choices they share in terms of cultural products and practices, while these latter are connected through those actors who share them. Combining Bourdieu’s field theory and network theory, this proposal will be exemplified by discussing how the processes of content sharing and tie formation are at work on Facebook and Pinterest, this latter being key to this proposal for it permits social actors to classify cultural and symbolic content and to connect to each other mainly via such content.


Bourdieu; social network analysis; social media

Full Text:



Copyright Licenza Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC-BY)

 - Peer Reviewed Journal

Indexed on: Google Scholar, ProQuest - Sociological Abstracts, Ebsco Discovery Service, Scopus, ERIH PLUS, DOAJ.

Scientific Magazine classified for ANVUR (Resolution n.89 del 6th November 2012)

Scientific Magazine class A according to ANVUR (Resolution of 11th August 2020)

ISSN 2239-8589 | Managing Editor: Debora Viviani | Editor in Chief: Paola Di Nicola