The First ISA Forum of Sociology in Barcelona: some interesting abstracts in the sociology of the arts

Last September saw the first International Sociological Forum of Sociology held in Barcelona.

It’s a sobering excercise to examine the 8Mb PDF that contains the many hundreds of abstracts presented at he conference. It must have been a weighty tome when printed.

But contained in this document are a number of fascinating abstracts in the sociology of the arts.  Below the fold, I’ve reproduce just a few that caught my eye:


Andrea Glauser (Department of Sociology, University of Berne, Lerchenweg 36, 3012 Berne). 

The Mental Geography of “Artists in Residence”

Nowadays, a central element of promoting culture in Western societies is to send artists out into the world preferably to a traditional centre of the Arts, such as New York, Berlin, or Paris, or to a destination on the margins of or beyond occidental cultures, such as Bamako, Shanghai or Cairo. My paper investigates the logic of such studio residences, which have rarely been analyzed in a sociological perspective: It shall reconstruct the meaning artists and institutions of cultural support assign to studio awards and the conceptions of artistic life & work these positions are based on. Studio residences are interesting as significant practice within the artistic sphere implying certain value judgments in respect of conception, perception, & appreciation which demand illumination. This explorative undertaking is motivated by the interest in the greater question of how artistic existence is encoded today, which conceptions of the artists, their place in (respectively beyond) society & their mission in the world work as relevant structures for acting & thinking. The study focuses primarily on the cultural politics of Switzerland, where the practice of artists spending time abroad is more extensive than in almost any other country & where it involves a broad range of players on both the side of the artists & the side of the institutions for the promotion of the Arts. The subject of the investigation is approached by means of contrasting case studies, whereby “theoretical sampling” (Anselm Strauss/Juliet Corbin) is carried out. Data consisting of field reports, applications for bursaries, information leaflets, & generated non-standardized interviews are analyzed with qualitative methods.


Femke van Hest (Erasmus University Rotterdam, EHESS Paris, PO Box 1738, 3000 DR Rotterdam, Netherlands)

Dutch Art in the International Contemporary Art Market

The contemporary art world is characterised by the fact that it is an international art world. For contemporary artists to establish a valuable career it is essential to be present in the international art scene, not only in museums & at biennials, but also in art galleries & at art fairs. This paper aims to explore the position of Dutch contemporary art in the international art world, by focusing on the presence of Dutch contemporary artists in the most important international contemporary art galleries in & at two international contemporary art fairs, being FIAC, Paris & Art Basel. Following the definition of the Mondriaan Foundation, organisation of which its primary goal is increasing interest in, and demand for, contemporary visual arts from the Netherlands, a Dutch contemporary artist is an artist with Dutch nationality or an artist residing in the Netherlands. The international contemporary art fairs are reoccurring events throughout the year where all actors from the art world–artists, galleries, curators, art collectors, art critics–meet (Moulin, 2003). It provides a double visibility & valorisation, not only for artists, but also for galleries. The Mondriaan Foundation contributes to the participation of galleries, Dutch & non-Dutch, who show Dutch artists at the most important contemporary art fairs, like Art Basel & FIAC, Paris. We will analyse the presence of Dutch contemporary artists at these two fairs at the editions of 2007 (FIAC) & 2008 (Art Basel).

Concerning contemporary art galleries, we will analyse the presence of Dutch artists in the important galleries in four cities, who are considered to be the art capitals of the world: Berlin, London, New York & Paris. The selection of galleries is based on their presence at Art Basel, the most renowned art fair in the world, & at Frieze Art Fair, London, which has become one of the leading art fairs in the past few years, completed with galleries considered to be the most important by Dutch contemporary art gallery owners. Analysing the presence of Dutch contemporary artists in international contemporary art galleries & contemporary art fairs will give us more insight on the international context in which Dutch contemporary artists are exhibited. Secondly, we will not only be able to determine who those Dutch contemporary artists are, but also compare their visibility in different cities & at two different art fairs. Are the artists present in every art capital taken into account in this paper or are some exhibited in one capital & not in the other? Is there a difference in visibility at Art Basel & FIAC, Paris? Furthermore, we will be studying the city & country of residence of the artists focusing in particular on whether there is a relationship or not between the artists’ presence in galleries and their city or country of residence. Do these Dutch artists live abroad or not, & do they live in the city or country where their representing gallery is located? Have they taken part in a residency program in that city? Finally, we will be focusing on whether Dutch artists are mostly represented at art fairs by Dutch galleries, or also by international art galleries, in particular those selected for this paper.


Loic Lafargue de Grangeneuve & Roberta Shapiro (Instit Sciences sociales du politique, Ecole nationale supérieur de Cachan, Cachan, France

Embedding Art in Metropolitan Space: Hip-Hop in the Greater Paris Area

Contrary to most of western art, whose authors go to great pains to shedall signs of their social & territorial context of production, practisioners of hip-hop assert these proudly. Since French rappers & breakdancers usually come from working-class immigrant banlieues, this is an attempt to overturn the stigma attached to these neighbourhoods & their persons. Nevertheless, given the hierarchy that exists in the arts, the location of hiphop’s production puts limitations to its recognition as art. In our paper, we will test the dual/global city paradigm by studying the case of hip-hop in the Greater Paris area (Saskia Sassen, The Global City, Princeton University Press, 1991). According to this paradigm, new cultural movements appear in areas inhabited mainly by working class immigrant groups; urban dualization or segregation is a consequence of internationalization & the expansion of external exchanges. Hip-hop illustrates the validity of this model. In the Paris area, the same social groups engage both processes: the actors of hip-hop are inhabitants of peripheral districts and are involved in the internationalization of their culture. Paris, as a prime cultural capital, plays an important part in structuring hip-hop nationwide & internationally. We will also bridge this paradigm with the “metropolitan archipelago” model.


Serge Proust & Pascal Vallet (University of Saint-Etienne (Modys), Bât D, Recherche, 6 rue Basse des rives. 42000 Saint-Etienne, France 

The Different Theatre’s Audience in a Local Area

In France, the “theatrical decentralisation” progressively initiated in the late forties & then developed in the sixties, is one of the eldest overlapping between cultural democratisation & local policies. Breaking with the private theatrical sector in Paris, the State supported, in big urban centers, the setting up of permanent non-profit theatres which would have to display an artistic activity in their vicinity. However, the aesthetical hierarchy between these non-profit organisations & the national theatres (all but one being set in Paris) remains very strong. Most of the analyses of theatre audiences tend to emphasize the limits of these policies (in these different theatres). Indeed, audiences belong to the upper classes & elites, especially the cultural elites which are characterised by a possession of strong cultural capital. The more the public live near Paris, the more this elitism is obvious. These analyses, though, tend to homogenize theatre audiences and make them look static. Our presentation will debrief the preliminary results of an ongoing research on the “spatialisation” of theatre audiences in Saint-Etienne’s area. This research, which took place in 2007-2008, based on a survey using a questionnaire was carried out in 20 different locations with 37 plays performed. It allowed us to take into account a variety of institutions. Our aim was to analyse the degree of exchange between audiences & their movement from one location to the other. We distinguished several types of audiences. First, the audience with an intense spectator activity who moves from one location to another, attending plays with dissimilar aesthetics. Second, the audience with a spectator activity as intense as the previous one, but who go to a more limited number or locations in order to attend plays of globally close aesthetics. Third, less mobile audience who attend few plays.


Reyhan Varli-Gork  (Middle East Technical University, Department of Sociology, Ankara, Turkey, 06531

Creating ‘The Antalya Golden Orange Eurasia International Film Festival’

In order to compete with other cities, ‘urban elite’ seek to find new ways for reshaping the city in creative manner. If creativity is a way of discovering previously unseen possibilities it can not be reduced to “removing bureaucratic obstacles to creativity” which Bianchini & Landry assert in their book The Creative City. If creativity means merging into neo-liberal policies to reduce the role of bureaucracy & politics in the management of the economy & to unfetter the business from the burdens imposed upon it by the regulatory environment, one can easily believe that the Mayor is the most creative actor in Antalya. As he declared in an interview: “I have decided to make Antalya fly. In order to make this possible, I am going to give way to private sectors. We are going to turn the Antalya National Golden Orange Film Festival into an International one like the Cannes Film Festival.” This paper aims to analyze the cultural policies for transforming “the Antalya National Golden Orange Film Festival into an International one.” For this purpose, the field research is conducted in Antalya based on the realist methodology by using the various tools and techniques of qualitative research methods of sociology. Preliminary results show that the crucial intention for organizing the Golden Orange Eurasia International Film Festival can be described as to nominate a fourth center of film industry in Antalya, in between Asia & Europe beside other recognizable centers in the world, namely Hollywood, Europe, & Bollywood.


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