Institutionalizing neo-bohemia

Authored by: Richard Lloyd

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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Neo-bohemia signals the encounter between the traditions of ‘the artist in the city’ birthed in nineteenth century Paris and the structural dynamism reshaping cities at the end of the twentieth century. The urban bohemia, linking distinct city districts with the lifestyle articulations of young artists, intellectuals and aesthetes, is among the most durable attributes of modernity. The traditions of bohemia powerfully shape the image of the modern artist and the normative artistic career, and also, to a disproportionate degree, the image of the city. Nonetheless, as a space of willed eccentricity, bohemia was largely neglected by urban sociologists and sociologists of culture through most of the twentieth century. while the classic bohemia was exotic, limited to a few cultural capitals in Europe and the US, neo-bohemia is today an increasingly ordinary feature of the urban landscape. Moreover, it engenders novel consequences, implicated in post-industrial urban trends including gentrification, the elevation of lifestyle amenities serving a changing city population, and the ascent of ‘new economy’ urban enterprises in tourism, technology, design and finance. These consequences are crucial to discerning the new in neo-bohemia. Long a tertiary concern, the arts have been elevated in both the social sciences and as a core concern of local policy makers. Gestating in the urban crisis of the 1970s, neo-bohemia is today an institutionalized space of the contemporary city.

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