This article studies trends in gender inequality in the domain of fiction books between 1960 and 2009 in France, Germany and the United States by analysing bestseller lists and literary award winners. It is argued that gender inequality is larger in fields or genres where more status is at stake for individual agents, as this causes an influx of men who then 'edge' women out of the field. The study finds evidence for this mechanism, as the presence of female authors in bestseller lists (exponent of the popular culture system) is larger than that among literary award winners (highbrow culture system) in all three countries. Cross-national differences are consistent (US smallest inequality, France largest), emphasizing the importance of field characteristics in explaining social inequalities in cultural production.

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ERMeCC - Erasmus Research Centre for Media, Communication and Culture
European Journal of Communication
Department of Media and Communication

Verboord, M. (2012). Female bestsellers: A cross-national study of gender inequality and the popular-highbrow culture divide in fiction book production, 1960-2009. European Journal of Communication, 27(4), 395–409. doi:10.1177/0267323112459433