Essay Art and Its Basis in Convention

Essay Art and Its Basis in Convention

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‘Art’ is commonly regarded as of high spirituality and aesthetic value, showing the intellectual and talented sides of the ‘great’ artists. However, many sociologists viewed the ‘art world’ as being constituted by networks of cultural production, distribution and consumption (Becker, 1984; Kadushin, 1976). These three networks are indeed collectively and mundanely formed. This paper aims to examine the question of how art is related to collective conventions, commercial drive, class interests and state sponsorship, with reference to the ‘art world’ in Hong Kong.
Collective conventions
Artistic conventions involve all the decisions related to the art works produced. In the view of Becker (1984), conventions are the ‘rules of the game’ in art worlds. Art is viewed as a collective activity of which the process is shaped by the whole system of the art worlds.
It is emphasized that the production of art works is a collective endeavor. Art is produced through a division of labor. According to Becker (1984), the making of art consists of core personnel who are at the center of production and possess the talents of an artist, and support personnel who do the work other than creating, such as budgeting and publicizing. It is common that the core personnel is thought to be special, takes the credit of successful production and receives more respect. This division of labor is agreed by the art world generally, in other words conventional. Though the worlds of different art domains differ to some extent, they can be seen as with a similar structure which includes the professional artists, support personnel, audience members and casual audience.
The art world in Hong Kong is structured similarly. Ballet dancers, instrumentalist...

... middle of paper ...

...duction and distribution processes. Similarly, the art world in Hong Kong is collectively and mundanely supported by different personnel.

Alexander, V. (2003). Art Worlds. In Sociology of the Arts: Exploring Fine and Popular Forms (pp. 67-82). MA: Blackwell.
Becker, H. S. (1984). Art Worlds. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Bourdieu, P. & Passeron, J. C. (1990). Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture (2nd ed.). Beverley Hills, CA: Sage.
Gans, H. J. (1974). Popular Culture and High Culture: An Analysis and Evaluation of Taste. New York: Basic Books.
Inglis, D. (2005). Thinking ‘Art’ Sociologically. In D. Inglis & J. Hughson (Eds.), The Sociology of Art: Ways of Seeing, (pp. 11-29). Basingstoke, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
Kadushin, C. (1976). Networks and circles in the production of culture. American Behavioral Scientist, 19, 769-784.

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