Art is a social product. This book attempts to show systematically the various ways in which the arts can adequately be understood only in a sociological perspective. It argues against the romantic and mystical notion of art as the creation of ‘genius’, transcending existence, society and time, and argues that it is rather the complex construction of a number of real, historical factors. In pursuing this argument, I shall review a number of recent developments in the sociology of the arts, many of which have taken place, for the most part, in isolation from one another. For example, theories of the reception of art, discussed at some length in Chapter 5, have rarely been integrated with theories of artistic production, despite the frequently occurring statement (usually citing Marx’s Grundrisse in support1), that production and consumption must be seen as complementary.2 I have found it unavoidable, however, that the various aspects of the social production of art should be discussed separately, at least in the first instance, both inasmuch as each chapter represents, and summarises, a particular, more or less self-contained, tradition and approach, and also because I could not see any way of dealing with the disparate arguments at the same time.
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