Patricia A. Banks

Associate Professor of Sociology
sociology of culture; sociology of art; consumers and consumption; race and ethnicity; philanthropy; qualitative methods

Patricia A. Banks (Harvard University P.h.D. & A.M./Spelman College B.A.) is a sociologist whose research program lies at the intersection of culture, consumption, and markets. In 2018-2019 Banks was in residence at Stanford University as a CASBS Fellow. With a focus on the African Diaspora, she studies the determinants, consequences, and meanings of cultural consumption and the processes underlying the emergence and growth of cultural markets. Some of the topics she explores are the bi-directional relationship between art collecting and identity, structural and cultural explanations of museum philanthropy, and the influence of consecration on the art market. At Mount Holyoke College she is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and a faculty member in the Program in Africana Studies and the Program in Entrepreneurship, Organizations, and Society.

Banks is author of the books Diversity and Philanthropy at African American Museums (Routledge 2019) and Represent: Art and Identity Among the Black Upper-Middle Class (Routledge 2010). She has published articles in journals such as Poetics, the Journal of Consumer Culture, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Cultural Sociology, and Qualitative Sociology. Her research involves various methods including in-depth interviews, visual analysis, participant observation, and archival research. Represent is the first major empirical and theoretical analysis of art collecting as a practice of black identity construction. She is currently working on the book Race, Ethnicity, and Consumption: A Sociological View (Under Contract Routledge) where she brings sociological theory to bear on race and ethnicity in the for-profit and non-profit marketplaces. In other research projects Banks is investigating philanthropy at African American museums, corporate support for the arts, and the global market for contemporary African art.

Banks has been a Sheila Biddle Ford Foundation Fellow and Non-Resident Fellow at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research (now the Hutchins Center) at Harvard University, and received fellowships or grants from institutions such as the UNCF/Mellon Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, and the American Association of University Women. She was recently elected to serve a three year term as the Secretary-Treasurer of the Sociology of Consumers and Consumpution section of the American Sociological Association. Banks is also an elected Council Member for the Sociology of Culture section of the American Sociological Association and has served in an elected position as Secretary-Treasurer of the American Sociological Association Section on Race, Gender and Class. Her work with students has been recognized by a teaching award from the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning at Harvard University and election as the Junior Faculty Baccalaureate Speaker at Mount Holyoke College. Banks has lectured and given talks on issues related to art and culture internationally and nationally. She is also the creator of the African American Museums Database (AAMD) which is a digital archive that allows researchers and other users to search for over 300 African American museums and related organizations across the United States. For more information about how her research on art collecting and racial identity has been incorporated into the sociology of art see Sociology Looks at the Arts (Routledge 2014).

Selected Courses

Selected Past Courses

  • Art and Society (Mount Holyoke College)
  • Black Cultural Production and Consumption (Mount Holyoke College)
  • Class in the Black Community (Mount Holyoke College)
  • Foodies: Taste and Culture in a Global Society (Mount Holyoke College)
  • Introduction to Qualitative Research and Data Analysis (Mount Holyoke College)
  • Introduction to Sociology (Mount Holyoke College)
  • Race in America (Mount Holyoke College)
  • The Business of Culture: Marketing and Selling Symbolic Goods (Mount Holyoke College)

Selected Past Independent Studies

  • The Market for Art by Contemporary African Artists: Artist Histories (Independent Study, Mount Holyoke College)
  • Fashion, Business, and Society (Independent Study, Mount Holyoke College)
  • Social Entrepreneurship at Mount Holyoke College (Independent Study, Mount Holyoke College)
  • African Immigrants and Assimilation in the United States (Independent Study, Mount Holyoke College)

Selected Publications


Banks, Patricia A. Race, Ethnicity, and Consumption: A Sociological View. Under Contract Routledge.

Banks, Patricia A. 2019. Diversity and Philanthropy at African American Museums. New York. Routledge.

Banks, Patricia A. 2010. Represent: Art and Identity Among the Black Upper-Middle Class. New York: Routledge.

*Reviews: Contemporary Sociology, International Review of African American Art

*Introductory Texts: Sociology Looks at the Arts (Routledge 2014)

Articles, and Chapters

Banks, Patricia A. 2019. “High Culture, Black Culture: Strategic Assimilation and Cultural Steering in Museum Patronage.” Journal of Consumer Culture.

Banks, Patricia A. 2019. “Cultural Justice and Collecting: Challenging the Underrecognition of African American Artists,” in Guillaume D. Johnson, Sonya A. Grier, Kevin Thomas, and Anthony Kwame Harrison (Ed.). Race in the Marketplace: Crossing Critical Boundaries. London: Palgrave.

Banks, Patricia A. 2018. “The Rise of Africa in the Contemporary Auction Market: Myth or Reality?” Poetics.

Banks, Patricia A. 2018. “Money, Museums, and Memory: Cultural Patronage by Black Voluntary Associations.” Ethnic and Racial Studies.

Banks, Patricia A. 2017. “Ethnicity, Class, and Trusteeship at African American and Mainstream Museums.” Cultural Sociology 11 (1): 97-112.

Banks, Patricia A. 2015. “Identity and the Consumption of African American Art in Art Education.” Art Education Journal 68(6): 16-21.

Banks, Patricia A. 2013. “Collecting Kara Walker.” Harper's Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated). Exhibition Catalog. South Hadley, MA: Mount Holyoke College Art Museum.

Banks, Patricia A. 2012. “Cultural Socialization in Black Middle-Class Families.” Cultural Sociology 6 (1): 61-73.

Banks, Patricia A. 2010. “Conceptions of Art Ownership as a Form of Wealth Accumulation Among the Black Middle-Class.” Qualitative Sociology 33 (3): 333-348.

Banks, Patricia A. 2010. “Reflecting the Nation: Culturally Inclusive Arts Policy and Race and Ethnicity.” Journal of Race and Policy 6 (1): 95-105.

Reviews, Essays & Other Writing

Banks, Patricia A. 2019. “Why Boards of Cultural Organizations Need to Diversify-and How to Do It.” Scholars Strategy Network.

Banks, Patricia A. 2019. “Black Artists and Elite Taste Culture.” Contexts.

Banks, Patricia A. 2019. Invited review of Michèle Lamont, Graziella Moraes Silva, Jessica S. Welburn, Joshua Guetzkow, Nissim Mizrachi, Hanna Herzog and Elisa Reis. Getting Respect: Responding to Stigma and Discrimination in the United States, Brazil and Israel. (Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ). Cultural Sociology.

Banks, Patricia A. 2017. “Collecting African American Art: From the Harlem Renaissance to the Obama Era.” Black Past.

Banks, Patricia A. 2017. “Sotheby's Modern and Contemporary African Art Sale: Fluid Categories.” C&. May 25

Banks, Patricia A. 2016. Invited review of Susan E. Cahan. Mounting Frustration: The Art Museum in the Age of Black Power. (Durham, NC: Duke University Press). Ethnic and Racial Studies. DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2016.1232430.

Banks, Patricia A. 2014. “Art Ownership as Wealth Accumulation.” Encyclopedia of Quality of Life Research. New York: Springer.

Banks, Patricia A. 2012. “Cultural Capital.” in J. Banks (ed) Encyclopedia of Diversity in Education. London: Sage.

Banks, Patricia A. 2012. Invited review of Diane Grams. Producing Local Color: Art Networks in Ethnic Chicago. (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press). American Journal of Sociology 117 (4): 1284-1286.

Banks, Patricia A. 2011. Invited review of Daniel Widener. Black Arts West: Culture and Struggle in Postwar Los Angeles. (Durham, NC: Duke University Press). Ethnic and Racial Studies 34 (2): 397-398.

Banks, Patricia A. 2010. Invited review of Kimberly Eison Simmons. Reconstructing Racial Identity and the African Past in the Dominican Republic. (Gainesville, FL: University of Florida Press). Ethnic and Racial Studies 33(6): 1142.

Banks, Patricia A. 2008. Invited review of Karyn R. Lacy. Blue-Chip Black: Race, Class, and Status in the New Black Middle-Class. (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press). Society 45: 210-211.

Upcoming and Recent Presentations

Presenting-“Diversity Capital: How Cultural Patronage Shapes Corporate Identity”, Sociology Department, University of California, Berkeley, March 2019, Berkeley, CA

Presenting-“Diversity Capital: Culture and Racial Signaling in Corporations,” Sociology Department, Stanford University, March 2019, Stanford, CA

Presenting-“Philanthropy and Black Culture,” CASBS, Stanford University, February 2019, Stanford, CA

Presenting-“Diversity Capital: Corporate Support of Black Culture,” Culture, Organizations, and Identities panel. Southern Sociological Society, April 2019, Atlanta, GA

Presenting-“Giving Black: Cultural Consumption and Cultural Steering Among Wealthy African Americans,” American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, August 2018, Philadelphia, PA

Presenting-“Patrons of Memory: Museum Philanthropy among Black Voluntary Associations,” American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, August 2018, Philadelphia, PA

Presenting-“Racism Rehab: Rebranding to Recover from a Racial Image Crisis,” Consumers and Consumption Mini-Conference, August 2018, Rutgers University-Camden. Camden, NJ

Remarks & Conversation-“Sociology of Museums,” Excavating the Image: Little Frank and His Carp (2003) by Andrea Fraser, Smith College Museum of Art and Kahn Liberal Arts Institute, March 2018

Presenting-High Culture, Black Culture: Strategic Assimilation and Cultural Steering in Museum Philanthropy, Culture, Wealth, and Elites session, Class and Culture Mini Conference, Eastern Sociological Society Annual Meeting, February 2018, Baltimore, Maryland

Invited Guest Lecture-African American Museums and their Meanings, MUX 119: Museums in Society, Smith College, 6 October 2017

Panelist-The Globalization of Contemporary Art: Markets, (De-) Coloniality and (De)Commodification, American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, August 2017, Montreal, Canada

Faculty Workshop Participant-“Crafting Management Skills for the Arts,” The Business of Teaching, Copenhagen Business School, July 2017, Copenhagen, Denmark

Faculty Forum Participant-Race in the Marketplace (RIM) Forum, Kogod School of Business, American University, Washington, D.C., May 2017

Presenting-Philanthropy and Diversity at African American Museums, Fifth Exposure Seminar (The Dark Room Seminar), Mount Holyoke College, May 2017

Presenting-E-Commerce and the Fine Art Market, Mini-Conference: Digital Sociology: XII: Digitally Networked Field Studies, February 2017, Philadelphia, PA

Invited Guest Speaker, American History as African American History: Visiting the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smith College visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, April 2017, Washington, D.C.

Presenting-Is the Market for Contemporary African Art on the Rise?, Black Portraiture[s] III: Reinventions: Strains of Histories and Culture, 17-19 November 2016, Turbine Hall, Johannesburg, South Africa

Panelist-Professional Development Workshop and Business Meeting: Navigating the Faculty/Post-Doc Job Market as a Cultural Sociologist, American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, 20 August 2016, Seattle, Washington, 4:30 p.m.

Panelist-Conversation featuring Riché J. Daniel Barnes and her new book Raising the Race: Black Career Women Redefine Marriage, Motherhood, and Community (Rutgers 2016), 29 April 2016, Smith College, Neilson Browsing Room, 4:30 pm

Presenting-Intersectionality and the Market for Contemporary Art, Fourth Exposure Seminar (The Dark Room Seminar), 23 April 2016, Mount Holyoke College, Gamble Auditorium, 11:15 am-12:45 pm

Presenting-The Rise of Africa in the Contemporary Art Market: Myth or Reality?, The Art Market in a Global Perspective, 28 January 2016, University of Amsterdam

Interviewing-Touria El Glaoui, Founder 1:54: Contemporary African Art Fair, The Art Market in a Global Perspective, 28 January 2016, University of Amsterdam

Presenting-Black Artists in the Art Market, Family & Friends Weekend, 25 October 2015, Mount Holyoke College, Hooker Auditorium, 11 am-12 pm

Presenting-Prices for Art by Female and Male Artists of African Descent in the Auction Market, Section on Sociology of Culture Paper Session: Art, Money, and Meaning Panel, American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, 24 August 2015, Chicago, IL.

Selected Professional Service

Secretary-Treasurer (elected), Section on Sociology of Consumers and Consumption, American Sociological Association (2019- )

Member of Editorial Board, Poetics (2018- )

Council Member (elected), Section on Sociology of Culture, American Sociological Association (2017- )

Chair, Assistant Professor of Sociology Search Committee, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Mount Holyoke College (2017-)

Chair, LITS (Library, Information, & Technology Services) Committee, Mount Holyoke College (2017- )

Chair, Mary Douglas Prize for Best Book, Section on Sociology of Culture, American Sociological Association (2017)

Chair, Art Museum Director Search Committee, Mount Holyoke College Art Museum (2016)

Chair (Acting), Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Mount Holyoke College (2016)

Member, Distinguished Contributions to Teaching Award Committee, American Sociological Association (2015- )

Chair, Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Book Award Committee, Section on Race, Gender, and Class, American Sociological Association (2013, 2014)

Secretary-Treasurer (elected), Section on Race, Gender, and Class, American Sociological Association (2011-2014)

Fellowships Panelist, National Endowment for the Humanities (2009)

News Links

Artnet News, Quoted in Article
The Studio Museum Residency Has Shaped the World’s Understanding of Black Contemporary Art

New Books Network Podcast
“Diversity and Philanthropy at African American Museums”

“CASBS fellowship: Patricia Banks”

“What is Fellowship at CASBS?”

Human-Centered Podcast
“Patricia Banks”

Newsletter of the ASA Culture Section, Interview
“Four Questions for Patricia A. Banks”

CASBS, Stanford Interview
Family of Fellows: Patricia Banks and James Banks

Consume This! Blog Post
“Diversity Capital and Corporate Cultural Patronage”

B-Side Podcast (episode on culture and race)
“Patricia A. Banks and Michael P. Jeffries”

“CASBS Announces 2018-2019 Fellows”
Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences,
Stanford University

“Results of the 2017 ASA Election”
American Sociological Association News

“Acumen, Imagination, Success”
Mount Holyoke College: News & Events

“Global Elites: Who Are They, How & Why Should We Care?” (Jessica Holden Sherwood)

“Art, Money, and Meaning” (pg. 18)
ASA Culture Section Newsletter

“Toyin Odutola”
International Review of African American Art