14201 Pierre Bourdieu: Taste, Cultural Capital and the Arts 1

Credits: 3 graduate credits in Cultural Studies

Prerequisites: At least two of the following courses: Multiculturalism in Israel; Theories and Approaches in Cultural Studies; Anthropological and Sociological Approaches to Cultural Studies; Society, Culture and Representation

The course is based on a reader edited by Motti Regev and Dana Kaplan.

The course acquaints students with sociologist Pierre Bourdieuís (1930-2002) approach to the study of culture and the arts, and its influence and applications. Owing to the formulation of concepts such as cultural capital, habitus and the field of cultural production, his theory has had immense influence on understanding the functioning of the fields of culture and art in the modern social context.

Bourdieuís work focuses on the correspondence between taste, in art and in cultural products, and social status. He presents taste as an individual and collective resource used to mark social distinctions, particularly within the context of refinement and the preference for elite art forms in western modernity, in which pure aesthetic judgment is perceived to be non-utilitarian. Bourdieuís empirical work exposes the social-utilitarian aspect of refinement as well as the way in which utilitarianism is masked by institutions and by the discourse about aesthetics and art.

Another major component of Bourdieuís work is the field of cultural production, through which he analyzes the various arts as arenas of struggle and negotiation between producers and critics. Here, criteria for judging and valuing works of art are determined, and belief systems in the ďgreatnessĒ of art works and in the ďgeniusĒ of their producers are established.

Topics: In-depth study of Bourdieuís key works and acquaintance with central concepts: The field of cultural production, producing artistic value, the market of symbolic goods, the historical genesis of pure aesthetics, status and cultural hierarchies; Expansions, critiques and additions to Bourdieu: Bourdieuís work and postmodern culture, the growth of the cultural omnivore, cultural entrepreneurship and artistic classification, cultural distinction in Australia, the literary field in France; Research in popular arts and culture: The aesthetic challenge of popular art, cultural capital and the media, regimes of value, the artistic value of rock music, art museums, taste as a cultural act.


1Students may write a seminar paper in this course, although it is not required.