Synopses & Reviews
Sociologists who study the arts have focused on constructing images of "the artist" as a social type and have, therefore, been criticized by art professionals for a lack of attention to the creative process and individual artistic personalities. In this book, the author examines the diverse theoretical approaches to the study of the arts and develops a sociological approach that acknowledges the importance of aesthetic imperatives and the individual creative process while also assessing the institutional, economic, and political influences on the creation of art. The author focuses on the ways in which people become artists, the institutions in which their careers unfold, the public they need to please, and the institutional and political pressures with which they must contend. Particular subjects covered include the differing relations of art to primitive and industrialized societies; the process by which works are "recreated" at different times for new social purposes; the role of the audience in the realization of artistic experiences; and the reasons for the evolution of artistic styles. This book makes a major contribution to the development of a sociology of the arts at a time when the role of the arts in society has become a subject of increasing concern to social scientists.
"This should be the choice, hands down, to represent the study of the arts from a sociological perspective." Choice"The book is...enormously useful as a core text for upper-division and graduate students ...Zolberg unfolds her argument well...she reviews the work of most of the major figures in the field with an even hand... Writing always with clarity and respect for her past and present colleagues in the field (if not always in full agreement), Zolberg's voice remains her own: self-possessed and never soft, yet always gentle, low--and excellent." Contemporary Sociology
At a time when a pile of bricks is displayed in a museum, when music is composed for performance underwater, and the boundaries between popular and fine art are fluid, conventional understandings of art are strained in describing what art is, what it includes or excludes, whether and how it should be evaluated, and what importance should be assigned the arts in society.
In this book, Vera Zolberg examines diverse theoretical approaches to the study of the arts. Ranging over humanistic and social scientific views representing a variety of scholarly traditions, American and European, she then develops a sociological approach that evaluates the institutional, economic, and political influences on the creation of art, while also affirming the importance of the question of artistic quality. The author examines the arts in the social contexts in which they are created and appreciated, focusing on the ways in which people become artists, the institutions in which their careers develop, the supports and pressures they face, the publics they need to please, and the political forces with which they must contend.
Particular subjects covered include the process by which works are created and "re-created" at different times, with changed meanings, and for new social uses; the role of the audience in the realization of artistic experiences; the social consequences of taste preferences; the reasons for change in artistic styles and for the coexistence of many art forms and styles.
A sociological approach to the study of the arts focuses on the development of artists, the institutions in which their careers unfold and the public and political pressures they must contend with.
Table of Contents
Preface; 1. What is art? What is the sociology of art?; 2. Why sociologists have neglected the arts and why this is changing; 3. Studying the art object sociologically; 4. The art object as social process; 5. Are artists born or made? 6. Structural support, audiences, and social uses of art; 7. How the arts change and why; 8. Where does the sociology of art stand, and where is it going?; References; Index.