Art and Social Theory: Sociological Arguments in Aesthetics / Edition 1

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Art and Social Theory provides a comprehensive introduction to sociological studies of the arts. It examines the central debates of social theorists and sociologists about the place of the arts in society and the social significance of aesthetics.

  • provides a comprehensive introduction to sociological study of art;
  • examines the central debates of social theorists and sociologists about the place of the arts in society and the social significance of aesthetics;
  • discusses the meaning of the arts in relation to changing cultural institutions and socio-economic structures;
  • explores questions of aesthetic value and cultural politics, taste and social class, money and patronage, ideology and utopia, myth and popular culture, and the meaning of modernism and postmodernism;
  • presents lucid accounts of leading social theorists of the arts from Weber, Simmel, Benjamin, Kracauer and the Frankfurt School to Foucault, Bourdieu, Habermas, Baudrillard, Lyotard, Luhmann and Jameson.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This timely book successfully fills what has become a yawning gap in the literature. Harrington renews our interest in the classical problems of sociology of art, setting them in the contexts of more recent social changes and developments in social theory, including globalization and postmodern thinking." Gordon Fyfe, Keele University
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780745630380
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 3/28/2004
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 248
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Austin Harrington is Lecturer in Sociology, University of Leeds

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations.



1. Conceptions and Approaches.

Metaphysical conceptions of art.

Sociological conceptions of art.

Humanistic art history.

Marxist social history of art.

Cultural studies, cultural materialism and postmodernism.

Institutional theories of art in analytical philosophy.

Anthropological studies of art.

Empirical sociology of contemporary arts institutions.


2. Aesthetic Value and Political Value.

Value-relevance and value-neutrality.

Liberal-humanistic art scholarship.

Socialist criticism.

Feminist criticism.

Postcolonial criticism.

Sociology, politics and aesthetics.


3 Production and Socioeconomic Structure.

Art and social class structure: Marxist theories.

Art and social evolution: Pitirim Sorokin, Arnold Hauser and Robert Witkin.

Patronage: the church, the monarchy and the nobility.

Arts markets in early modern Europe.

The state and the market in twentieth-century arts funding.


4. Consumption and Aesthetic Autonomy.

Kantian aesthetics.

Leisure, gentility and aesthetic autonomy.

Art and cultural capital: Pierre Bourdieu.

Arts consumption in the US.

Aesthetic validity versus the sociology of taste.


5. Ideology and Utopia.

Origins of the critique of mass culture.

Art in German idealist philosophy.

Marx, Bloch and Luk√°cs.

Art, myth and religion in nineteenth-century high culture.

Richard Wagner and Friedrich Nietzsche.

Sublimation and civilization: Sigmund Freud and Herbert Marcuse.


6. Modernity and Modernism.

Aesthetic modernity after Charles Baudelaire.

Max Weber: rationalization and the aesthetic sphere.

Georg Simmel: money, style and sociability.

Walter Benjamin: mourning and the messianic.

Siegfried Kracauer: the redemption of physical reality.

Theodor Adorno and the Frankfurt School.

The Frankfurt School reassessed.


7. Postmodernism and After.

German aesthetic thought since 1945: from Heidegger to Habermas.

French aesthetic thought since 1945: literary thinking after the Marquis de Sade.


Beyond postmodernism: autonomy and reflexivity.

Globalization and the arts.


Further Reading.



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