Cultural dissonances

The social in the singular

Authored by: Bernard Lahire

Routledge International Handbook of the Sociology of Art and Culture

Print publication date:  September  2015
Online publication date:  September  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415855112
eBook ISBN: 9780203740248
Adobe ISBN: 9781135008895


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Since the mid-1960s sociologists have learned to understand ‘culture’ (the dominant cultural arbitrary that imposes itself and is recognized as the only ‘legitimate culture’) in relation to the social classes or class fractions; they then observe the social inequalities in access to ‘Culture’ (the frequent use of the capital letter indicating its greatness). They also emphasize the social functions of art and culture in a differentiated and hierarchised society. Social classes and their more or less great distance from culture, cultural hierarchies that rank individuals, objects and practices from the most legitimate to the least legitimate – these are the key elements of the sociological meaning assigned to culture in the last forty years. The great shaping moments of this scientific history were marked by the publication of the works of Pierre Bourdieu and his various collaborators – on students and their relation to culture (Bourdieu and Passeron 1964), photography (Bourdieu ed. 1965), museums and art galleries (Bourdieu and Darbel 1969), the educational system (Bourdieu and Passeron 1970), and class styles (Bourdieu 1979).

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