Sociological approaches to literature can be divided into two types with two different purposes:
1. Some sociologists mine literature and other arts to discover the ways people think about society. For example, by reading novels or watching films, one can observe what sort of consumer or other habits are considered markers for prestige within various societies. Such sociologists as Pierre Bourdieu (and earlier, Thorstein Veblen) investigate cultural consumption as a way of understanding various societies.
2. Some literary critics focus on how social factors affect the production and consumption of literature. In other words, unlike the sociologists described in (1) who read literature to understand society, literary critics study society to understand literature better. Thus Marxist and feminist critics will often investigate how class and gender affect writers' lives and reputations as well as the ways that characters in literary works behave and think.