Social aesthetics

Authored by: Ben Highmore

Routledge Handbook of Cultural Sociology

Print publication date:  October  2018
Online publication date:  November  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138288621
eBook ISBN: 9781315267784
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315267784-17

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Abstract

This chapter begins by outlining the philosophical origins of the term “aesthetics” as a form of sensual cognition. It discusses some of the problems and potentials of aesthetics for sociology by considering the diverse contributions of thinkers such as Simmel, James, and Rancière. It continues by arguing that aesthetics has played a central role in sociology’s major concern with the characteristic experiences associated with large-scale patterns of industrial modernization in urban and domestic space and increasingly in the virtual realm of the digital. It treats globalization as a sociological concern, one that can benefit from an aesthetic approach attempting to apprehend the sensorial orchestrations that globalization performs. It suggests that food and the movement of food provide vivid case studies of how globalization is materially enacted. Lastly it argues that the redistribution of aesthetic values can be seen as the underlying performance of social movements and the politics of identity.

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