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The social construction of art

Pearson, Nicholas Martin (1976) The social construction of art. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Sociologists have tended (a), to assume art as a 'given', and, (b), to attempt to relate art to society' , thus conceptually separating the two. I argue that art is a social phenomenon, and that, historically, until the Renaissance, painting and sculpting were no more nor less 'art' than houses, building or saddle-making. The sociologist should, therefore, examine the conditions under which painting, and sculpting came to be constructed as art, and the social relations through which art is reproduced and maintained as an ideology and practice. Taking William Morris's analysis of art and the division of labour under capitalism as a starting point, I examine and develop his analysis in four areas. First, I examine the development of state intervention in the arts in Britain in the period 1830-1975. Second, I examine the ideological preconditions for, and assumptions implicit in, the present day art market. Third, I examine the impact of the ideology of art on the working classes. Fourth, I examine the present position and experiences of the producers of art, craft and design. Through examining these four areas, I attempt to show not only the usefulness of Morris's analysis, but also the way in which the ideology of art is bound up with the class divisions and work relations of 19th and 20th century British society. Furthermore, I show that the producer of art, while being in control of the production of his work, is not generally in control of how it is defined, presented, bought, sold and valued.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:1976
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:18 Sep 2013 15:37

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