Angele Christin is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology. Before coming to Princeton, she was trained in sociology of law and sociology of culture at the Ecole Normale Superieure (Paris).
In her dissertation project, “Clicks or Pulitzers? Journalists and their Work in the United States and France,” Angele explores the transformations of the fourth estate on both sides of the Atlantic. The printed press is undergoing a crisis in most Western countries. The circulation of newspapers and magazines has declined dramatically, as have advertising revenues. The only sector of the press that is doing well is online news. In 2010, for the first time, more people read news online than in print in the United States. Yet media critics have argued that investigative reporting and quality journalism are threatened at news websites because of the frantic pace of publication and the preponderance of opinion pieces. In her dissertation, Angele takes a step back from these heated debates about the future of the press, instead exploring how two different professional cultures – American and French journalists – use and interpret the same new technological innovations. The United States and France are often presented as having opposite journalistic traditions: American journalism is depicted as dominated by market forces, whereas the French journalistic field is more embedded in politics. Angele’s research explores how these national cultures and technological changes interact.
Drawing on ethnographic methods (months of observations at news websites and dozens of interviews with editors, journalists, and bloggers), Angele finds that there are strong pressures on web journalists in both countries to maximize “clicks” (the number of times an article is viewed). Though there have always been tensions in journalism between professional and market logics, these conflicts have become more salient at news websites with the emergence of internet metrics and instant feedback on each article’s online success. French and American websites also share the same software program that allows each writer to see detailed metrics on the online success of every article. Yet there are strong national differences in how journalists react to this pressure to maximize clicks. On the one hand, French web editors appear more reluctant than their American counterparts to trust market success as the main measure of professional value. On the other hand, French web journalists are even more obsessed with “clicks” than their American counterparts. These new measures of professional worth are then mirrored in the compensation practices of news websites, which have created a variety of new compensation structures.
Angele’s dissertation develops three broader themes. First, she shows that the tension between market logic and professional logic that characterizes the journalistic field has been reconfigured with the rise of the internet in both countries, leading to stronger market pressures on journalistic production. Second, in economic sociology and sociology of work, she argues that processes of commensuration – here, the transformation of different kinds of journalistic worth into a single metric, “clicks” – do not necessarily lead to a convergence between units. Instead, the metric takes on very different meanings depending on the website under consideration. Third, she argues that it is essential to focus on the organizational level, in addition to the national and field levels, for comparative cultural sociologists to make sense of findings such as these ones in the United States and France.
Angele is also interested in the sociology of law and sociology of culture. She graduated with a BA in Sociology from the Ecole Normale Superieure (Paris) and completed an MA in Social Sciences at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in 2006. Her master's thesis, an ethnographic analysis of a criminal procedure in a Parisian courthouse, was published by a major French academic publisher as: Comparutions immediates. Enquete sur une pratique judiciaire (La Decouverte, 2008). In this book, she emphasizes how organizational routines, categories of thought, and interpersonal relations influence the decisions of prosecutors and judges who operate under strong time pressure. During her first years at Princeton, Angele worked on the sociology of culture and conducted a statistical comparison of aesthetic taste and cultural participation in the US and France. In 2012, she published a second book with E. Ollion about contemporary sociology in the United States.
Angele received the De Karman Fellowship for the academic year 2013-2014 and the Porter Ogden Jacobus Honorific Fellowship for the academic year 2012-2013.
2012. La Sociologie Contemporaine aux Etats-Unis (with E. Ollion). Paris, La Decouverte, coll. Reperes.
2008. Comparutions immediates. Enquete sur une pratique judiciaire. Paris, La Decouverte.
Articles in peer-reviewed journals:
2012. "Gender and Highbrow Cultural Participation in the United States." Poetics, 40(5). 423-443.
2011. "Le role de la socialisation artistique durant l'enfance: Genre et pratiques culturelles legitimes aux Etats-Unis." Reseaux, 168-169(4): p. 59-86.
2011. "Camera, Terrain et Sciences Sociales. Presentation" (with Paul Pasquali). Revue de Synthese, 132 (6), n. 3, p. 319-324.
2006. "Jurys populaires et juges professionnels en France. Ou comment approcher le jugement penal," Geneses, 65, p. 138-150.