From Library Journal
Social scientists have long been interested in the question of how notions of taste and fashion change over time. Do aesthetic judgments reflect external forces such as state policies, class stratification, or commercial advertising, or are these judgments informed by largely subjective factors that are difficult to pin down in scientific terms? Lieberson (sociology, Harvard) has written a subtle and technically sophisticated analysis of changes in taste by examining the cultural patterns influencing the first names given to children in the past two centuries. As Lieberson notes, "compared with fashions in clothing, cars, and sodas, the naming process can be studied without worrying about the effect of organizations dedicated to influencing these tastes." While he acknowledges the impact of external forces on name selection (the emergence of popular movie stars, for example), he emphasizes the importance of "internal taste mechanisms" that shape fashion "even when external conditions are fixed." This carefully reasoned study should be of interest to sociologists, historians, and students of cultural studies. Recommended for academic libraries.DKent Worcester, Marymount Manhattan Coll., New York
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
About the Author
Stanley Lieberson is Abbott Lawrence Lowell Professor of Sociology at Harvard University.