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The field of cultural production.doc

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SOCI 2040
Carlos Novas

For: RubaAli 03/12/12 By: Holly Watson SOCI 3692 Pierre Bourdieu: The Field of Cultural Production In his piece, The Field of Cultural Production, Pierre Bourdieu takes a critical stance in examining the artistic and literary field and its place in the social world. Bourdieu compares the artistic field to other realms in society, such as the economic and political spheres, revealing that there are both similarities and differences between them, and arrives at the observation that dominant fields have a profound effect on the artistic field. There is great discussion as to how the artistic and literary field can be perceived as both an institution and not an institution, claiming it to be the field that is the least determinate of them. The approach he takes in understanding fields, and specifically the production of fields, is heavily hermeneutic as he believes ideologies are repeated over time and that roles are repeated and re-enacted by writers and artists; however, he also believes that the degree of an artist's autonomy is what will challenge its reproductive nature, and that autonomy is what largely differentiates the artistic and literary field from others. This piece can be compared to The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Production by Walter Benjamin and his theory of aura, and how the modern age and reproduction of art have had dire consequences on art and its true authenticity. Bourdieu expresses that the artistic and literary field resists dominant fields such as the political, economic and social fields. The production of art aims to deviate away from being influenced externally, and differs from economic and political fields, as the positions one has in the artistic field are generally uninstitutionalized and non-hereditary (Bourdieu, 299). It is stated that the most autonomous producers of art have a tendency of excluding bourgeois artists and writers, as there is a sufficient struggle in the artistic field to maintain a definition of art and literature that is legitimate (Bourdieu, 295). Throughout The Field of Cultural Production, Bourdieu explains the importance of autonomous positions because autonomy is largely what defines the artistic and literary field as a field. For: RubaAli 03/12/12 By: Holly Watson SOCI 3692 To be autonomous is to move beyond previous notions and ideologies within a field or subject. He claims that an artist or writer who has autonomy is using freedom as an institution fundamentally designed to oppose the bourgeoisie (Bourdieu, 300). Criticisms in the artistic field from dominating structures can actually help in establishing an artist into an artistic sub-field. For example, Bourdieu explains that Theatre Libre entered into the sub-field of drama because it was greatly scrutinized by advocates of bourgeois theatre (Bourdieu, 296). One may interpret this aspect of Bourdieu's theory as Marxist because he presents artists and writers as almost a kind of cultural proletariat in resistance to capitalism and its attempts to impose on the artistic realm. Although Bourdieu viewed the artistic sphere as one that often went against capitalist ideologies, he discovered a dilemma that artists and writers were faced with in their struggle to oppose being impacted by dominant fields in positions of power. He explains how the artistic and literary field are profoundly affected by the economic field, and that it is impossible for both of them to be independent of one another. He addresses the issue that it is difficult for one to make a living as an artist or a writer without having money at the onset of pursuing that position. In the section The Habitus and Possibles of the text, Bourdieu states that economic capital provides conditions for freedom from economic necessity (Bourdieu, 302). In other words, it is advantageous for the artist to be economically stable through means other than his artistic profession, as it will enable oneself to dedicate time and have access to resources that will contribute to making their artistic works reach their full potential. The term habitus, coined by Bourdieu, can explain how economics are inevitably linked to the arts. Bourdieu claimed that particular conditionings associated with a particular class of conditions of existence produce habitus, which are systems of dispositions (Bourdieu, 284). This implies that despite the fact that one's position in the artistic field is non-hereditary, if one comes from a privileged background and has the disposition of having all economic and perhaps educational needs For: RubaAli 03/12/12 By: Holly Watson SOCI 3692 met, they are more likely to seek a career in the artistic field. He believes that those agents in society that are richest in social, economic and cultural capital are the first to move into
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