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Arts and Power – Policies in and by The Arts

Posted: May 25th, 2018 | Filed under: Calls for Papers | No Comments »

Working Group Sociology of the Arts of the Cultural Sociology Section in the DGS (German Sociological Association)

Conference at the Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Germany, November 22 and 23, 2018

Concepts of power and domination are central for sociology since its beginnings. Classical theorists such as Marx, Weber, Gramsci, Adorno, Foucault, Bourdieu etc. developed these concepts as fundamental sociological terms; there is almost no (macro-)sociological discourse that does not draw from these notions.

In general sociology, more abstract and theoretical concepts of power and domination are discussed, divesting from empirical explorations. Dispositifs, constraints and violence are relational concepts that are defined by the enforcement of volition against resistance (Weber). We are convinced that this „enforcement of volition“ is also well suited for the explanation of structures and processes in the arts, in their production, imagination, communication, distribution, critique, and consumption. In addition, the arts are means for enforcing power and domination (see among others Adorno’s notion of cultural industry more than 70 years ago, or Bourdieu’s theory of distinction).

The DGS working group „sociology of the arts” invites especially international scholars to Leuphana University of Lüneburg on Thursday, November 22, 2018, and on Friday, November 23, 2018, to present their ideas about theoretical advancements and empirical studies that deal with power, domination and the arts.

Theoretically and empirically, the notion of policies is at the center of the conference. Policies in and by the arts are results of the struggle between the structures of social constraints and the agencies, capabilities, and possibilities of arts and artists to shape society. In this sense, the sociology of arts looks at the political alternations between structure and agency in the arts.

Among others, the following questions could be discussed at the conference: Who decides, how and where, about norms, policies, and values in the arts? How are norms, policies and values manipulated by the arts? Who defines which discourses are important in art fields or art worlds? Which circles or networks of persons and organizations are powerful, which are suppressed? Which mechanisms are applicable to overcoming powerful and domineering established structures, to create innovation and newness in and by the arts? Where are the lines between criticisms, avant-garde and the new on the one side, and affirmation, establishment and reassurance on the other side? Which conventions determine contemporary practices in the arts? Which forms of mavericks (Becker) could oppose these conventions, and are successful, or sanctioned? What are the subversive and informal artistic forms that undermine established artistic forms (applying, e.g., neo-institutionalism)? By which aesthetic means is power accredited, by which aesthetic means is it protested? What are contemporary aesthetic means of counter-cultures and alternative art scenes, against dominating art scenes?

The contributions can relate towards the arts in general; they can also focus on specific arts genres, i.e., the visual arts, music, theater, literature, dance, or architecture (etc.). Presentations can also discuss the arts in organizations such as galleries, museums, concert halls, and theaters (etc.) as well as cross-genre shifts and the dissolution of definitions of arts genres.

The following list consists of seven possible major topics , with additional elucidating keywords. We would like to focus on these topic groups at this conference; however, we are also open to proposals that do not necessarily fit into these groups.

  1. The arts and the power of social structures (e.g., arts and the state, arts and civil society, arts and patriarchy, arts and precarization, arts and cultural fields, arts and networks, arts and competition, arts and globalization, arts and sustainability, arts and technology, arts and digital transformation, arts and the dominance of algorithms)
  2. The arts and the dominance of capitalism (e.g., arts and market, arts and capital, arts and economization, arts and financialization, arts and public/corporate/private support, arts and the new spirit of capitalism)
  3. Establishing and de-etablishing power (e.g., canonization [normalization, standardization, conventionalization, institutionalization], curating as power practice, assigning difference, controlling and sanctioning deviance, arts and gender/ethnicity /diversity, participation/partaking in the arts, symbols of power in the arts, symbolic power of the arts, arts and affects/emotions/stimulation, arts and body language)
  4. Affirmative effects of the arts (e.g., arts and autopoiesis, arts and elites, utilization of the arts in and for politics, arts and censorship, internalized or openly imposed prohibitions, arts as instrument of power, arts as method of suppression)
  5. Critical effects of the arts (e.g., aesthetic resistance, systemic criticism of power, discourses against the system, methods of social transformation, political arts and artists, arts as political critique, arts and politics of memory, artist critique, artistic critique of neo- and postcolonial structures, rage against the machine, culture jamming/mimesis, cultural hacking)
  6. The impotence of the arts (e.g., the impotence of artists, the impotence of arts critique, the impotence of arts audiences and arts recipients, mutual effects between arts consumption and the impotence of arts and artists)
  7. Theories of arts and power (e.g., advancements of structuralist vs. agency theories, poststructuralist theories, phenomenological theories, critical theory [Adorno], feminist and queer theories, field theory [Bourdieu], interactionist theory [Becker], power and domination [Weber], art systems [Luhmann], theories of sustainability)

Please send your abstract submission, with about 300 to 500 words, and a short bio to [email protected] and [email protected] . The deadline for the submission is August 20, 2018. Submissions are welcome in English or German.

We plan to compose a volume with selected contributions to this conference; the volume would be published in the book series “Kunst und Gesellschaft” (art and society) of the Springer VS Verlag.

The conference addresses all sociologists of the arts; it will also welcome sociologists of music. The working group “music sociology” in the German Sociological Association has been dormant for the last years, and thus we would be pleased to have this special sub-discipline also be represented at our conference.

It might be especially interesting for this group of scholars that, at the late afternoon of the second day, we will segue into the international English language symposium for “Urban Music Studies” with the title „Groove the City“, at Leuphana University (see http://www.urbanmusicstudies.org, http://www2.leuphana.de/urbanmusicstudies/call-groove-the-city. Participants of the preceding “sociology of the arts” conference are able to also register for and participate at this symposium, at the following days (November 23 to 25, 2018). We kindly ask you to inform us, along with your abstract submission if you are also interested in this subsequent meeting.

Conference heads: Volker Kirchberg, Alenka Barber-Kersovan and Lisa Gaupp

Organization committee:  Alenka Barber-Kersovan, Christoph Behnke, Lisa Gaupp, Volker Kirchberg, Robin Kuchar, Patricia Wedler, Ulf Wuggenig

No Comments on “Arts and Power – Policies in and by The Arts”

  1. 1 Maria said at 6:06 am on May 31st, 2018:

    Could you please provide information about the conference fees?

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