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Pierre Bourdieu's sociological theory of culture by Brigit Fowler

Related: sociology of art - Pierre Bourdieu


Bourdieu’s relentlessly empirical investigations into the taste for modernist works as symbolic goods show that its public are not just drawn from other artists, but principally from those patrician families who have “old money”, often bankers, liberal professionals and higher education teachers (1984). Thus, once aesthetically certified by a leading critic and authenticated by the artists’ signature, the works of the contemporary avant-garde have moved into the arms of power. “Legitimate taste” (“good” taste) is far from randomly scattered: it is the possession of an “aristocracy of culture”. Moreover, artistic reputations no longer have to wait for posthumous recognition (as with Manet) or middle age (as with Degas, Monet and other members of the impressionist Batignolles Group). Certainly, the reverse world of bohemia, established by the first “heroic modernists”, was premised on the ascetic disavowal of the market and a self-denying pursuit of artistic values alone (1996). Thus Flaubert, for example, could be recognised as truly epoch-making in his refusal to make a “pyramid structure” —to present a cumulative narrative order —and in his insistence on a perspectivist treatment in his novels (e.g. Madame Bovary). Equally, Manet and Redon refused to use a painting to “say something” and aimed to “liberate themselves from the writer”, that is, from any “gloss or exegesis” (1996:136-7). --http://www.variant.randomstate.org/8texts/Brigit_Fowler.html

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