I began with three studies in the social theory of art representative of broad approaches within social theory. Wolff’s works have been influential by being extensively used on undergraduate courses and Bürger’s book has been widely seen as important in its own right, frequently quoted and discussed. They represent and reinforce an approach to the arts in general and visual art in particular that has become increasingly common. Their themes and arguments are found everywhere, and have assumed the status of a new orthodoxy for the supposedly theoretically informed. Important phenomena of art worlds — including works, critical vocabularies, value hierarchies, choices of media and techniques and so forth — are represented as caused and controlled either by deep social—structural forces, like entrenched systems of power or dominant cultural ideologies, or by everyday micro-sociological processes relating to the shaping or survival of art worlds as a necessary social reality for their members, or as the efforts of members to raise their rewards and status within art worlds.
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