The Business of Ethnography: Strategic Exchanges, People, and Organizations

By Brian Moeran | Go to book overview

–8–
The Art of Capitalizing

There were a number of important things that I relearned through my relationship with Minamoto Eisuke and the pottery exhibition that he gently pushed me into. One, of course, was the reminder of the importance of being able as fieldworker to get back stage in order to understand how and why the easily discernible front stage worked as it did. A second was how every social world has a primary frame of interaction, or 'social drama',1 in which that social world is legitimized and sustained. As we have seen in earlier chapters, the primary frame in a rural community of potters was a drinking gathering, while in the advertising industry it was the presentation. In the ceramic-art world it was the exhibition. Exhibitions allowed potters to see the work of others living and working in the area; they put them in touch with other potters, dealers, even collectors and critics; they enabled them to be plugged into the latest fads and fashions and so into what was important in the ceramic-art world; and, less often, they encouraged dialogue with other potters about materials and techniques.2

A third thing I relearned was how, while moving through a trajectory from production to consumption, by way of distribution and appreciation, objects – in this case, pots; in a previous instance, advertising campaigns – formed a network of people around them. These people had their own individual networks, of course, so that the ceramic-art world consisted not only of 'an established network of cooperative links among participants',3 but also of networks of ceramic art works. What I came to understand most clearly, though (although it took a little help from a French anthropologist-cum-sociologist to work it out), was the fact that all these interacting potters, critics, museums, collectors, galleries, dealers, department stores, retailers and buying public – not forgetting the art works themselves and what was said about and done with them – were inextricably caught up in a field of production.

The concept of 'field' (champ in French) has been most clearly enunciated by Pierre Bourdieu who developed it primarily in relation to forms of cultural production, such as the ceramic-art world I had been studying. The idea was developed over the years vis-à-vis what he saw as the limitations of structuralism and certain forms of Marxism, with their emphasis on how agency or practice was structured by objective social conditions, on the one hand, and of phenomenology and certain forms of interpretive sociology, anthropology and linguistic analysis,

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The Business of Ethnography: Strategic Exchanges, People, and Organizations
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction: Strategic Exchanges 1
  • Part I - Frames 21
  • 1 - Baptized by Fire 23
  • 2 - Analysing Frames 43
  • 3 - Frames at Work 63
  • Part II - Networks 81
  • 4 - Managing Impressions 83
  • 5 - Making Connections 99
  • 6 - Doing Business 115
  • Part III - Fields 133
  • 7 - Exhibition of Virtue 135
  • 8 - The Art of Capitalizing 151
  • 9 - Creative Fields 171
  • Conclusion: The Business of Ethnography 193
  • Bibliography 207
  • Index 217
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