American Sociological Association

Color Perception in Sociology: Materiality and Authenticity at the Gods in Color Show

Color is a central feature of social life, yet its value in sociological theory is ambiguous. This paper establishes an approach to a social theory of color by focusing on color perception. Using theories from materiality studies and cultural sociology, I argue that color perception is an unstable and contestable phenomenon shaped by social and material factors. My argument is empirically grounded in a case study of a blockbuster museum show called Gods in Color. The show toured 21 cities in Europe and North America from 2003 to 2015. Its centerpiece—brightly painted reconstructions of ancient Greek and Roman marble sculptures—triggered a vigorous debate about the limits of science in correcting historical optics. The case has broader implications for sociological theories of authenticity, materiality, and aesthetic knowledge.


Rose-Greenland, F.





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