Social order through a prism: Color as collective representation

Gary Alan Fine, Beth Montemurro, Bonnie Semora, Marybeth C. Stalp, Dane S. Claussen, Zayda Sierra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Although color has rarely been examined as a sociological topic, the meaning of color is linked to numerous social domains and serves as a collective representation. Color contributes to social meanings in institutional orders, stratification systems, and identity. While color has some meaning separate from its linkage to particular objects, in most cases colors are situated. We perceive not color, but colored objects. Any given color has multiple meanings that are understood in context. Through our examination of a range of domains in which color has social significance, we suggest that the examination of this field has considerable promise. We conclude by linking the analysis of color to the model of cultural formation suggested by Schudson (1989), focusing on retrievability, rhetorical force, resonance, institutional retention, and resolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)443-457
Number of pages15
JournalSociological Inquiry
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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