Department of Sociology
609 Kenneth Taylor Hall
McMaster University


Photo by Christina De Melo

Photo by Christina De Melo


Phillipa K. Chong is a cultural sociologist who specializes in how we define and evaluate worth: this includes the value we assign to social objects (e.g., books, paintings, knowledge, opinions, etc) and social groups (e.g., experts, artists, minority groups, etc). To date, her empirical focus has been on book reviewers as market intermediaries in the cultural market.

Her present work explores how fiction reviewers engage in the dual project of constructing (i) the value of new novels in the absence of objective indicators of aesthetic quality; and (ii) the legitimacy of their professional judgments given the accepted subjectivity of taste. She has written a book on these topics, entitled, Inside the Critics' Circle: Book Reviewing in Uncertain Times, forthcoming with Princeton University Press.

She currently works as an Assistant Professor in Sociology at McMaster University.  Before arriving at her current post, she earned her PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto, and was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Sociology at Harvard University.


Cultural Sociology; Sociology of Knowledge; Evaluation; Professions/Expertise; Media and Popular Culture; Race, Gender, and Class