A cultural sociology of the arts

A cultural sociology of the arts

Vera L Zolberg New School for Social Research, New York

abstract In response to cultural transformations that emerge from the intersection of macro-structural changes in the political, economic and technological domains, the sociology of the arts is undergoing a renewal. Art making and its diffusion continue to be demanding of the traditional qualities of talent, imagination and skill. But in a world where entire films may be made on a mobile phone and distributed globally overnight, sociology of culture requires rethinking. New technological innovations challenge the very existence of some of the seemingly unassailable traditional media and art forms: print journalism, television viewed on home sets, movie theaters, live performance in concert, or theatrical venues. Today, each individual can potentially create and disseminate his or her own creations. And each may choose among a far wider array of aesthetic culture. Yet the arts require real management expertise, not merely from individual creators but from coordinated teams of enablers, in private and public domains. Cultural categories developed under earlier conditions – elite or mass, entertainment or fine art – need rethinking, just as do the sources and structures of cultural policy making that recognize certain forms of art – but not others. All the while, a number of concerns remain central: freedom of expression, privacy, civility, in the face of political power. 

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