The Sociology of Art: A Reader

The Sociology of Art: A Reader

The Sociology of Art: A Reader

The Sociology of Art: A Reader

Synopsis

Introducing the fundamental theories and debates in the sociology of art, this broad ranging book, the only edited reader of the sociology of art available, uses extracts from the core foundational and most influential contemporary writers in the field. As such it is essential reading both for students of the sociology of art, and of art history. Divided into five sections, it explores the following key themes: * classical sociological theory and the sociology of art * the social production of art * the sociology of the artist * museums and the social construction of high culture * sociology aesthetic form and the specificity of art. With the addition of an introductory essay that contextualizes the readings within the traditions of sociology and art history, and draws fascinating parallels between the origins and development of these two disciplines, this book opens up a productive interdisciplinary dialogue between sociology and art history as well as providing a fascinating introduction to the subject.

Excerpt

THIS READER IS DESIGNED to provide students with an introduction to the fundamental theoretical orientations which have characterised the sociology of art from its nineteenth-century origins, in Marxism, to contemporary contributions. Readings have been selected which are both representative of the major debates in the sociology of art and lend themselves most strongly to informing contemporary theoretical debates between art history and the sociology of art.

The introduction explores the development of both art history and sociology as new discourses which developed during the course of the nineteenth century in response to the development of modern social structures and cultural institutions. Consequently, many of the classics of sociological and art-historical thought - for example Weber and Wölfflin - have commonalities both in their intellectual background and in the kinds of intellectual problems in which they are interested: the relationship between collective structures and individual freedom, cultural evolution and the systematic character of processes of cultural change. In other cases, essays which are now recognised as classics in their own fields - Panofsky's essay on the methodology of iconographic and iconological interpretation and Karl Mannheim's introduction to the interpretation of Weltanschauungen (worldviews) - were originally written in response to each other, and are much better understood in relationship to each other than in the disciplinary isolation in which they are normally read today. My introduction goes on to explore some of the reasons why art history and sociology developed in separate directions during the course of the twentieth century, and some of the more recent attempts to cross the disciplinary divide, most notably in the sociology of art of Pierre Bourdieu and Michael Baxandall's critical art history.

The core of the Reader consists in five parts each exploring a key area in the sociology of art: the classic theoretical perspectives of Marx, Weber, Simmel and Durkheim; the social production of art; the sociology of the artist; sociological

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