1st Edition

Sociology about Art An Introduction to How Sociologists Study the Arts

    260 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    260 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    For sociologists, making, distributing, and using art and cultural products constitute social practices, yet, sociologists disagree on how to investigate these practices. Organized around three main schools of thought – critical sociology, symbolic interactionism and social systems theory – Sociology about Art serves as an introduction to and a self-reflective discussion about how sociologists study the Arts.

    Providing a wide spectrum of approaches in art sociology, the book focuses on examining not only the famously cited theorists (notably Bourdieu, Becker and Peterson) but also offers an overview of the sociologists who are often overlooked (Hennion, Heinich, Luhmann and Van Maanen, among others). In presenting these various approaches, the crux of discussion concerns the status of art in sociological analyses. Following a critical assessment of the classical theories and assessing the risks of failing to observe the function of art, the authors contend that the perspective on art works, their forms, affordances and meanings, can and should be integrated into sociological research for it to become a sociology that is truly about art.

    A vital resource for students seeking to understand sociological discourses surrounding art and set up their own research projects, Sociology about Art will appeal to scholars and students of sociology with interests in the arts and cultural policy.

    Introduction. Part I: Art and Critical Sociology 1. Introduction to Critical Sociology 2. Art and Distinction 3. Fields of Cultural Production 4. The Legacy of Bourdieu’s Field Perspective Part II: Art and Interpretative Sociology 5. Introduction to Interpretative Sociology 6. Art Worlds 7. Art and the Production of Culture Perspective 8. Art and the Actor-Network Perspective Part III: Art and Systems Theory 9. Introduction to Systems Theory 10. Luhmann and the Complexity of Society 11. Art as a Social System 12. The Function of Art in Society Part IV: Conclusion 13. A New Pathway for Sociology of Art: Sociology About Art


    Sara Malou Strandvad is Lead of libraries, culture houses and citizen service in Odsherred municipality, Denmark, and previously worked at University of Groningen, the Netherlands.

    Quirijn Lennert van den Hoogen is Assistant Professor of Arts Sociology and Arts Policy at the University of Groningen and the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

    Manuel Reyes is a junior lecturer at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands and the translator and editor of L.J. Müller’s Sound and Sexism.

    "Sociology About Art provides an indispensable guide to the theoretical perspectives shaping the sociological study of the arts. Engagingly written, the book lucidly explains established approaches while also suggesting alternatives. Full of insight and attuned to contemporary concerns, it will inspire readers to search for new connections between sociology and art. "

    — Lisa McCormick, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, University of Edinburgh, UK

    “A really thoughtful and stimulating introduction to a fascinating field. The authors elegantly summarise a massive range of work, while advancing a provocative and intriguing argument about the need for researchers and students to engage fully with artworks and their aesthetics.”

    — David Hesmondhalgh, Professor of Media, Music and Culture, University of Leeds, UK

    “Sociology About Art is a valuable tool for students seeking a clearly and engagingly written text summarizing research on this topic. Organized in relationship to dominant Euro-American theoretical modes of inquiry, the authors center the research of white, male scholars and call upon the research of others to critique that canon. What results is a record of the debates professional scientists have had, presented in a legible form for novices; a text for both general courses in sociology, and those focused on art and culture.”

    — Jennifer C. Lena, Associate Professor of Arts Administration and Sociology, Columbia University, US

     “At last! We now have a comprehensive book that shows why Sociology of Art matters, and how this specific approach is fundamentally distinct from Art History or Visual Studies. Together, Sara Malou Strandvad, with Quirijn Lennert van den Hoogen and Manuel Reyes have gathered the basics of this important domain of studying without neglecting the essential contributions of non-Anglophone thinkers and theoreticians. This global spectrum makes this Sociology About Art: An Introduction to How Sociologists study the Arts unique and essential, not only for undergraduate courses in Sociology and Art Studies, but as well for university libraries. Considering what is available now in the English language, I could not think of a better Introduction book for 21st Century students in Sociology of Art.” 

    Yves Laberge, Ph.D., sociologist, scholar, and Book Series Editor, Canada   

    “This volume is a welcome new contribution to explorations of the connections between arts and society. It is refreshingly innovative in rejecting traditional, obsolete yet persisting divisions of roles between humanities and social sciences in making sense of art and society as well as art in society. A sociology about art is indeed the much needed reframing of longstanding debates for our contemporary interdisciplinary sensibility.”

    Eleonora Belfiore, Professor in Cultural Policy, and Interdisciplinary Director of Social Inclusion and Cultural Diversity, University of Aberdeen, UK