Katharina Burgdorf, Henning Hillmann
Identity from symbolic networks: the rise of New Hollywood

Sociology Seminar, Center for Research in Economics and Statistics (CREST), Paris, 10. Dezember 2021

In this article the authors use data from the Internet Movie Database on more than 17,000 filmmakers who were active between 1930 and 2000 to show how the novel collective identity of auteur filmmaking emerged through the New Hollywood movement in the 1960s and 1970s. The authors contrast the role of tangible and symbolic network ties in the formation of collective identity. They show that a cohesive symbolic network, in which New Hollywood filmmakers shared references to revered films, served as a foundation for the collective identity of this new artistic movement. In contrast, tangible collaborations in film projects yielded merely a fragmented social network that did little to support the creative enterprise of New Hollywood. The evidence suggests that this new collective identity cohered around an emerging film canon, i.e., a collection of valuable films that were cited disproportionally and that still serves as a touchstone for filmmakers today. The authors argue that symbolic ties through shared citations allowed New Hollywood filmmakers to realize their vision of autonomous auteur filmmaking. The proponents of New Hollywood also used this network of symbolic bonds to draw boundaries that separated them from the established studio identity of Hollywood’s Golden Age.