Performing Proximity - "Learning To Fly"
FQS, Vol 9, No 2 (2008): Performative Social Science
The following paper is about artists doing experimental and performative art who expect the spectators to become participants in the process of artwork production. The artwork is thus produced through a process of participation. As a researcher, I was similarly expected to participate in the artwork process. As I observed, the artists worked at having their agency in the artwork process recognized by the participating spectators. At the same time, the artists create a certain proximity to the spectators-participants through performing art, which I call "performing proximity." By involving the participants in their art-in-process, they make use of their agency to redefine the artworld and enlarge it into other social worlds. I also discuss how artists' ability to enact redefined social worlds can be compared to agency in performative social science and in biographical research.
First ISA Forum of Sociology: Sociological Research and Public Debate
Barcelona, Spain, September 5 - 8, 2008
Research Committee on
Sociology of Arts RC37
The sociology of the arts and culture: Towards a public sociology
This general theme is not exclusive; we expect particular panels to reflect other interests and themes of the members. Please send abstracts with full name, title, address and e-mail – by the Deadline of October 15, 2007 to: Jeffrey A. Halley, Programme Coordinator, University of Texas, USA, email@example.com and to the Session Organizer listed below.
Please check the ISA RC 37 website at:
Rationalization and resistance in the arts, culture, and communication
Joint session of RC14 Sociology of Communication, Knowledge and Culture and RC37 Sociology of Arts
Organizer: Jeffrey A. Halley, University of Texas, USA, firstname.lastname@example.org .
This session addresses the problem of rationalization, paramount for such theorists as Weber, Lukacs (in the notion of reification), Adorno and others of the Frankfurt School, and beyond. The process of rationalization has been very present in the last decades in various forms, such as the growth of mergers and acquisitions, patterns of globalization, the instrumentalization and commodification of art and culture, and the very acceleration of the pace of these trends. What has been the effect of this political economic and socio-cultural process on the arts, culture, communications, and knowledge? What forms of resistance have developed by culture workers, consumers, social collectivities, and others against these trends?
Biographical research and sociology of art
Joint session of RC 37 Sociology of Arts and RC38 Biography and Society
Please send abstracts to: Felicia Herrschaft, University of Frankfurt, Germany, Organizer: email@example.com and Jeffrey A. Halley, University of Texas, USA (RC37 Programme Director) firstname.lastname@example.org
Artists use language in a performative way to express their relation to the artworld. Artistic processes of creating an artwork can be analyzed through their language use and also through the “working alliance” of researchers with artists. Artists can be seen as opening up a world of action in which they build houses for the visitor, who is no longer someone experiencing a work of art but becomes part of an action.
In this session, we propose a substantial and methodological reflection on sociology of art, performative social science, visual sociology, and biographical research, to understand the role of research in the art world. Questions to be raised and discussed can include the following: is the artistic biography changing? What kind of “biographical work” do artists do? How do artists reflect the artistic process of creating an artwork? Does a transnational and cosmopolitan concept of life play a role in the art world and how is it expressed? Are there differences in concepts how artists create artworks and how the curator is involved in the artistic process? Very welcome are papers concerning concepts of art form also in African and Asian countries and different regions of the world.
The public becomes public: The sociology of art and culture and public sociology.
Organizer: Jean-Louis Fabiani, EHESS, France, email@example.com
In the last ten years, the sociological analysis of audiences and publics in art and culture has undergone various changes: more attention has been devoted to ethnographic approaches and comparative studies. Research on festivals has become central, as well as continuous surveys on cultural institutions. We are now provided with a large data set that allows us to discuss the efficiency of public policies and the expectations of increasingly fragmented audiences. In the meantime, the question of the public (and sometimes of the counter-public) has become a foremost public issue. Sociologists are regularly involved in public debates questioning the public interest in funding art and culture organizations and the specific ways of attracting and attaching new audiences. The session will aim at confronting different sociological attitudes toward such an issue. Can we assess the consequences of the debate on writing sociology of art and culture ? Is it possible to share a common engagement about the « democratization of culture » or is such a topic out of date? We expect a large debate, since the question is not perfectly clear: there has been a lot of misunderstanding between sociologists, audiences and bureaucracies so far.
Sociology of culture and sociology of the arts: Inheritance and transformation
Organizer: Marta Herrero, University of Plymouth, UK: [mail to:firstname.lastname@example.org]
This session will explore the sorts of theoretical and analytical frameworks from sociologies of culture (from classical to modern) which have inspired sociological analyses of the arts, as well as the contributions the sociology of the arts can make to current debates in the sociology of culture, for example, the role of culture in arts consumption and production.
Culture as activity: Fans, enthusiasts, amateurs
Organizer: Antoine Hennion, ENSMP, [mailto:email@example.com]
The sociology of culture has trained us to only have a critical reading of people’s tastes and preferences, as pure signs of identity and difference. Observed as reflexive work performed on one’s own attachments, through a comprehensive enquiry on various great amateurs, fans, enthusiasts, active practitioners, and by defining new ways of accounting for those passionate practices, taste may be no longer considered an arbitrary election, unaware of its own meaning and explained by hidden social causes. Rather, it appears as a collective technique, whose analysis helps us to understand the way we make ourselves sensitized, to things, to ourselves, to situations and to moments, while simultaneously controlling how those feelings might be shared and discussed with others.
Collective memory, public discourse and the arts
Organizer: Jan Marontate, School of Communication, Simon Fraser University: firstname.lastname@example.org
This session aims to promote reflection on how the arts shape and are shaped
by public discourse about collective memory. Another goal is to develop a
critical awareness of the place of the arts in rethinking changing
collective memories of the past and in imagining the future. Proposals are
invited that examine ways the arts sustain and reconfigure memory through
performance, the built environment, everyday practices, movements and
specific ¡°sites¡± of memory including memorials, museums, internet sites &
public art. What is not memorialized may be as important as what is
commemorated. Proposals are also encouraged that consider the relationship
between the arts, memory and forgetting (or ¡°collective amnesia¡±), and
transformations of memory. Themes might include: the globalization of
memory discourses in the arts, the arts and debates about cultural trauma,
public spaces of memory and political aspects of contested or suppressed
The territorial dimension of art
Organizer, Alain Quemin, Inst. Universit. de France: email@example.com
For several years, sociology of art has explored the impact of the territorial dimension on artistic creation at different levels. The works on the local dimension have dealt with artistic metropolis, focusing in particular on the relations between different art forms or making connections between various art forms and territories, such as cities, regions or countries. Other important works in the sociology of art field have been developed simultaneously to the development on works in the field of the sociology of globalization. These works in the sociology of art, thanks to empirical data, have made it possible to renew some imprecise or even inaccurate analyses on cultural globalization. The papers that are expected for this session may deal with the articulation between art and territory at any level. An empirical approach will be strongly encouraged.
La dimension territoriale de l'art.
Organizer, Alain Quemin, Inst. Universit. de France: firstname.lastname@example.org Depuis quelques années, les travaux se sont multipliés en sociologie de l'art sur la dimension territoriale de l'art à plusieurs niveaux. Les recherches sur la dimension locale ont notamment traité des métropoles culturelles, en établissant en particulier des connexions entre les différentes formes d'art ou en mettant en relation certaines formes d'expression artistique avec des territoires, qu'il s'agisse de villes, de régions ou de pays. D'autres travaux importants ont accompagné en sociologie de l'art le développement des recherches sur la mondialisation ou la globalisation, traitant alors des échanges artistiques internationaux et permettant parfois, sur la base d'analyses empiriquement fondées, de remettre en cause certaines analyses trop rapides sur la globalisation culturelle. Les communications attendues dans le cadre de cette session pourront donc traiter de l'articulation entre art et territoire à tous les niveaux. La dimension empirique sera particulièrement encouragée.
Epistemology and methodology in the sociology of arts : challenges for the twenty-first century
Organizer: Paulo Menezes, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, email@example.com The purpose of this session is to update the theoretical questions
that have developed in research in the Sociology of Arts in its various field, such as fine
arts, literature, cinema, photography and so on, regarding the analysis of
art works, and their social conditions of production.
Open submission session
Organizer: Jeffrey A. Halley, University of Texas, USA, firstname.lastname@example.org Please submit any papers with other interests and themes to this open submission session.
8th Annual Conference of the European Sociological Association
Conflict, Citizenship and Civil Society, Glasgow, 3rd - 6th September, 2007
Theme of the Conference
Europe is experiencing extensive transformations that disturb traditional political institutions and explode periodically into deep conflict. Political interpretation of these events is contested and reasons 'traditional' and 'new' vie for explanatory efficacy. Conflicts associated with migration, generation, gender, precarious labour, urban tension and cultural and religious intolerance are spliced by inequality, discrimination, poverty and exclusion thus complicating notions of belonging and citizenship. As politics is focused on conflict and its resolution debates about civil society have come to the forefront and classic concepts born during the Scottish Enlightenment have been revitalized.
Final Conference Information.
Final Conference Programme
The 8th European Sociological Association Conference will bring together scholars from across the globe to explore contemporary citizenship in Europe and debate the state of democracy and the fate of civil, political and social rights that have been the political lifeblood of European societies. The Conference will host papers in over 30 Research Networks and Research Streams covering the full range of substantive areas within the sociological canon, including a list of research streams/networks.
Keynote speakers include Margaret Archer, Donatella Della Porta and Nicos Mouzelis
ESA-New Frontiers in Arts Sociology
New Frontiers in Arts Sociology:
Creativity, Support and Sustainability
Conference of the European Sociological Association (ESA)
Research Network for the Sociology of the Arts
Lüneburg and Hamburg (Germany), March 28 - April 1, 2007
The ESA Research Network for the Sociology of the Arts is organizing its 8th meeting at the end of March 2007 in Lüneburg (Germany), with additional events in near-by Hamburg. The main conference venue will be at the University of Lüneburg, close to the medieval old town. The conference will feature keynote lectures, plenary discussions, paper sessions, workshops, and round tables. Following the triad theme of the conference, "Creativity, Support, and Sustainability" , we will put an emphasis on those issues that are of sociological interest within arts worlds but also relate to those powerful developments in economy, ecology and ethic contexts on the macro level that influence, manipulate or determine production, content and forms, distribution and reception of the arts.
Papers presented at the ESA Interim conference for the Sociology of the Arts, New Frontiers in Arts Sociology: ESA-Conference Program
Doing and being an artist: Self-conception and creativity of artists in the fields of the public sphere.
Keywords: art worlds and artists: formal organizations and informal networks, discourses on hegemonic cultures
Recognizing proximity in forms of life and critique of traditional forms of life is a starting point for cooperative work with artists, because artists establish an egalitarian relationship with anyone who wants to investigate them. The artist’s claim to autonomy means that s/he cannot be made into an object of research.
Increasingly, artists themselves are anticipating sociologists in finding ways into social worlds and preparing the social worlds for the sociologists. What are artists doing in the meantime that is making them to an increasing extent partners of social researchers with similar interests but different ways of going about things? The thematization of the working alliance is part of their self-conception as artists. For example artists thematize in interviews how they are becoming friends. They compare their proximity with the professional proximity a researcher has to create in participant observation. Phenomena such as migration, movement of refugees, deliberation, debating, democratization, the participation of minorities, and architectures are transformed into formal questions and artistic actions. Artistic action is exhibited by artists.
Artistic creativity is directly linked to political deliberation in societies during stages of reconstruction and social change. At the same time, aesthetic forms of communication by visual artists are related to the reflexivity of public spheres. Artistic creativity by visual artists can be part of and is expressed in social discourse.
In comparison to the description, or depiction of the living/actual-world the articulation of invented/fictive-worlds (such as those created and expressed by artists) through the concept of mondialization reflect unpredictable and valuable transformations of the living/actual-world and the art-world. Artists find new voices through the expression of their creativity in dealing with language or within the public sphere.
Recognition and Recapitulation in the self-presentation of artists and curators in Post-Apartheid South Africa (f. e. Durban)
Keywords: Sources of creativity, institutional and social change
In this paper I will address how artists and curators deliberate institutional changes in the artworld in Post-Apartheid South Africa. The arts play a central role in the development of a new South Africa. The notion of recognition, access to and participation in the artworld is in the arts for all South Africans a central theme and a framework for the arts and for national policy. The radical challenge in building a new society is part of the self-presentation of artists and curators and how they cope with its failures. Many artists are engaged in Ngo’s and in other forms of humanistic action. You can find a complex view on societal material in many works of contemporary artists. There is in fact a real enthusiasm of young artists in South Africa to work with their experience of social realities. Most of the curators recapitulated how they were always caring for black artists during Apartheid. They struggle now in coping with new hierarchies in a new power-system, which they don’t understand and accept. Black artists are in many ways still not accepted as persons with an independent creativity. They struggle for recognition and acceptance in the art-scene of South Africa. But some institutions like the Tatham Gallery in Pietermaritzbourg and the Durban Art Gallery present installation art by black South African artists and opened their institutions for democratic experience in the public.
Biographical research and sociology of art in crisis regions like Kosovo and Afghanistan – how to investigate on public spheres?
In this paper I would like to address methodolical problems and approaches between biographical research and sociology of art. As part of my PhD research on public spheres, music and art scenes, I have conducted interviews with young female artists and HipHop artists in Prishtina, in Afghanistan with visual artists and curators, in South Africa (Durban) with artists, curators and Sociologists; in Germany with – among others – an Iranian female artist. For my research, I invite artists onto radio shows and conduct life-history interviews with them. In my subsequent analyses of these shows, I investigate their expression and creativity in how they use narratives as art forms. They create public spaces by narrating their own life story and/ or the story of their artwork. It is also possible to observe how artists reflect on the public sphere through talking about the public presentation of their art works, for example in exhibitions.
A Critique of the Sociology of Art
“To see and to know life”
“I pick the building that I want to live in – it's over there - I see the clouds that move across the sky – my building has every convenience” (Severine Hubbard)
Sociology of the Arts is not an established subject on the curricula of German universities (Gerhards, 1997), although in view of the cultural turn in the social sciences it would be good if it were to become established, not only in Art Schools. The field of Sociology of the Arts includes the work of Becker, Bourdieu, Luhmann, Bohnsack (documentary method) and perhaps Oevermann. Although Gergely Zimanyi, a physicist, believes that “science and art are complementary expressions of the same collective subconscious of society” (Morton, 1997: 1) (Jones, 2006), the approach used by sociologists (for example Kip Jones) is distinguished by their own artistic productivity but they do not examine current ways in which artists work.
When sociologists are not treating themselves as artists, they do at least do some useful work at the level of the reception and classification of art (e.g. Bourdieu) or how artists collaborate in their works (Becker, 1982, artworlds).
However there is no current work within the sociology of art, which examines how artists act when they for example plan an exhibition or an intervention in the public sphere. This makes it more difficult to develop research methods suitable for dealing with new trends in art. Increasingly, artists themselves are anticipating sociologists in finding ways into social worlds and preparing the social worlds for the sociologists. What are artists doing in the meantime that is making them to an increasing extent partners of social researchers with similar interests but different ways of going about things. For example artists thematize in interviews how they are becoming friends. They compare their proximity with the professional proximity a researcher has to create in participant observation. Phenomena such as migration, movement of refugees, deliberation, debating, democratization, the participation of minorities, and architectures are transformed into formal questions and artistic actions. Artistic action is exhibited.
Biography research and artistic action - coping with new social realities?
Biography research has to employ ethnographic working practices if it is to describe social reality adequately. In my Ph.D. project, I try to do this by combining biography research with theories of the public sphere. I enter into working alliances, partnerships with artists, so that I can, together with these artists, gain access to the social world they bring into being through their artistic projects. Recognizing proximity in forms of life and critique of traditional forms of life is a starting point for cooperative work with artists, because artists establish an egalitarian relationship with anyone who wants to investigate them. The artist’s claim to autonomy means that s/he cannot be made into an object of research.
How do artists move in a city, how do they observe the changes in their city, how do they shape their city, what are the aspirations for change that drive them?
What is the empowering condition and how does this influence the narration of life stories? A model of narratives in the public sphere?
How does the constitution of public spheres influence the opportunities to express and articulate one's own life?
Artists and Cultural Actors change traditional society
Artists can be described as actors of transformation in post-war societies. In how public spheres are used – f.e. Arendt, Habermas – Structural transformations of Narratives can show the framing of detraditionalization in a society. Narratives in relation to discourse guides us to express experience – these narratives are influenced by the transformation of moral and political identities which are performed through illocutionary speech acts in democratic public spheres under construction.