Sociology of Texts

Renaissance/early modern print cultures begin to associate the production of literature with the “Sociology of Text”- a complex of economic and social trends along with related changes in institutions like patronage. “Sociology of Text” means that the writers and publishers have to keep in mind the socio-economic demands.

Roland Barthes’ influential definition is that a text is always unstable. It is not a fixed entity like the physical book. Book is fixed, objectified, specified but text is not. Text is a “field” of force. It is volatile, indeterminate, and open-ended process. Renaissance regards the text as equal to “work”- a fixed entity, bound between covers, having an author and a clearly defined purpose.
But, early modern approach to “text” is just opposite to the Renaissance. Text operates independently. They say that there is no fixity, text is not bound between covers, and it is not like “book”.
It is important here to quote Roland Barthes’ assertion that “interdisciplinary work is not a peaceful operation it begins effectively when the solidarity of the old disciplines breaks down”. His assertion can be applied in case of shifting of category from Renaissance to early modern as early modern dissolves the appearance of autonomy of literary studies. Neither Renaissance nor early modern is solidly fixed in meaning both of them are shifty not only in the case of meaning, the shift can be found in the case of the precise time period. Renaissance is sometimes applied to the European cultural phenomena occurring during the twelfth century, the later term early modern refers to the phenomena of the last quarter of the eighteenth century. We need to be conscious here that Renaissance, as a European revolution, occurred not in one particular category rather whole Cultural Revolution had been occurring and literature was one of the parts.