I begin with three sociological accounts of art. Each springs from an influential sociological approach and is reasonably representative of that approach. The works providing these accounts are: Howard Becker’s Art Worlds (1982), Janet Wolff’s The Social Production of Art (1981) and Aesthetics and the Sociology of Art (1983), and Peter Bürgers Theory of the Avant-Garde (1984). The theoretical approaches from which the accounts derive are respectively: symbolic interactionism, Marxism, and critical theory. There are, of course, other sociological approaches, and I do not intend to offer a comprehensive survey of extant sociologies of art. However, I will argue that these works raise certain characteristic or symptomatic1 issues for a sociology of art per se.
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