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After Bourdieu Critique and Renewal in the Sociology of Culture Nick Prior, University of Edinburgh.

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Presentation on theme: "After Bourdieu Critique and Renewal in the Sociology of Culture Nick Prior, University of Edinburgh."— Presentation transcript:

1 After Bourdieu Critique and Renewal in the Sociology of Culture Nick Prior, University of Edinburgh

2 Culture: What’s the Problem?  Projection: the “problem of culture” is in the body of criticism  Presents discursively: culture industry of culture talk: turns, returns, critiques, renewals  “We are living now in the aftermath of what one might call high theory, in an age which, having grown rich on the insights of thinkers like Althusser, Barthes and Derrida, has also in some ways moved beyond them” (Eagleton, After Theory, 2003)

3 Structure of Paper Impact and trajectories of Bourdieu-influenced scholarship on the sociology of culture and music in UK Post-Bourdieusian critiques and alternatives, post- constructivist turn to aesthetic form, meaning and attachment Cautionary note about the “new aesthetic turn” in sociology of culture, and continuing advantage of an “agonistic” relationship between sociology and musicology

4 Why Bourdieu?  Synthesis of founding fathers  Helped to lay the edifice of modernist sociology  A sociologist’s sociologist  A grand narrative of modernity  Sociological Politics: Political Interventions (2008)  Engaged rather than enraged intellectual  Phronetic thinker (Flyvberg, Making Social Science Matter, 2001)  A taste for Bourdieu? (Inglis, 2005)

5 Bourdieu: A Love Story 1) Exegesis and Understanding 2) Application 3) Critique A) Cultural capital: Sarah Thornton Clubcultures, Routledge (1995) B) Habitus: homologies between social stratification and cultural consumption in UK, musical clusters, “musical families”, Centre for Research on Socio-Economic Change (CRESC) C) Field: genre, style and production are social accomplishments enacted relationally in historically accreted fields

6 “Putting a Glitch in the Field” (Prior, 2008) FIELD OF CULTURAL PRODUCTION (MUSIC) LARGLARGE-SCALE SUB-FIELD “COMMECOMMERCIAL POP / ROCK” Autonomy / “Intellectual” Audience / Low Economic Capital Heteronomy / Market / “Mass Audience” / High Economic Capital CC + / EC -CC + / EC + RESTRICTED SUB-FIELD “AVANT-GARDE / EXPERIMENTAL” CC- / EC - GLITCH Symbolic profit Self-authored / specialist software “Research sector” Production for other producers Small independent labels Performance: automated absence Specialist music magazines Ryoji Ikeda / Oval / Alva Noto Economic Profit Free / industry-standard software Mass audiences / economies of scale Majors and big independent labels Performance: authenticity and presence Mainstream magazines Radiohead / Björk / Madonna

7 Beyond Bourdieu “Cultural Omnivores” (Peterson), dynamic and reflexive institutions, less reductive ontologies, intra-individual variations in cultural practices (Lahire) Bourdieu’s reductive account of the aesthetic, the specificities of the object and the inventive agency of the producer; denial of musical value beyond social value Crisis of constructivism

8 Post-constructivist Sociologies Complexities of aesthetic meaning, expression, objecthood and attachment Janet Wolff: a “sociological aesthetics” based on a non- essentialist theory of aesthetic experience; respect for the object Georgina Born: “post-positivist empiricism” sensitive to expressive practices, authorial subjectivities and creative agency Tia DeNora: the “inner sonorous life” of selves and subjectivities Antoine Hennion: neo-phenomenolgical resurrection of the work and the aesthetic encounter as singular not instrumental

9 Challenges, Dangers, Cautions Terminological lack: can one separate “the thing” from established discourses of “the thing”? Adequacy: it’s one thing to say what is currently “good” as a critique of Bourdieu, another to dismiss everything he says as outside the limits of what can be possibly known from a critical standpoint Danger of cumbersome combinations, forced syntheses between sociology/musicology

10 Agonistic Pluralism in the Sociology of Art and Culture Is there wisdom in accepting the disciplinary limits of sociology rather than producing second-rate aesthetics? For a pluralist agonism where disciplines permit adversaries; productive disagreements rather than the illusion of consensus? Agonism = positive form of conflict Sociology as a watchdog for uncritical and unreflective assumptions about the discourses of music? Not forgetting Bourdieu but employing him strategically in on-going battles and dialogues

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