The Open UniversitySkip to content
 

Distinction through visual art

Silva, Elizabeth B. (2006). Distinction through visual art. Cultural Trends, Volume 15(Issue 2/3) pp. 141–158.

DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09548960600712942
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar

Abstract

Visual art is one of the fields where, according to Bourdieu, culture is used to reproduce the
class structure. Like other items in the cultural repertoire, paintings, as major examples of
visual art, imply social divisions in how they are engaged with by artists, critics and
audiences. Within the Bourdieusian framework, cultural engagements with paintings
are interpreted as indicators of social position, since appreciation depends on a trained
capacity in the family and the educational system, which is often inaccessible to less
powerful sections of the population. This would imply that the sorts of paintings favoured
by working-class people differ from those preferred by the middle or upper classes. More
recent studies have contested the view that a gulf exists between the art tastes of different
classes in ways that reproduce the class structure. The argument of the omnivore thesis
that distinctions between more popular and legitimate tastes have become blurred has
predominantly been based on empirical references in the field of music. This article
explores this thesis on the basis of data about visual arts in the Cultural Capital and
Social Exclusion project. While some differences continue to be connected to social
divisions of income, education and occupational groups, important similarities are
found across the board, and certain significant differences appear to relate to factors
other than social class, such as ethnicity, age and gender. It is also significant that some
people appear disconnected from and disinterested in paintings.

Item Type: Journal Article
ISSN: 0954-8963
Keywords: Visual art; Bourdieu; Cultural consumption; Social divisions
Academic Unit/Department: Social Sciences > Sociology
Interdisciplinary Research Centre: Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Governance (CCIG)
Item ID: 8964
Depositing User: Elizabeth Silva
Date Deposited: 30 Aug 2007
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2010 20:03
URI: http://oro.open.ac.uk/id/eprint/8964
Share this page:

Altmetrics

Scopus Citations

Actions (login may be required)

View Item
Report issue / request change

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   + 44 (0)870 333 4340   general-enquiries@open.ac.uk