Dirty Pictures: Scandal and Censorship in Contemporary Art

  • Anne E. Bowler
Part of the Sociology of the Arts book series (SOA)


Overt censorship of the arts has been a relatively rare occurrence in the West, more often associated with authoritarian political regimes. Nevertheless, conflicts over cultural symbols in democratic societies have become increasingly visible since the late 1980s. This chapter uses three case studies to examine the nature of arts censorship in the contemporary period. The conceptual framework guiding the analysis relies on a dual awareness of the complexity of art worlds and the fact that social control of the arts may take numerous forms. Censorious practices may be exercised by the state, market, arts institutions, and among artists in the form of self-censorship. Equally important is the contingency of outcomes that may result from both overt and covert efforts at social control, ranging from suppression of content to selective support of particular types of aesthetic expression.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anne E. Bowler
    • 1
  1. 1.University of DelawareNewarkUSA

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