The Profane Basis of Sacred Power. Social Backgrounds of Swedish Artists in Dominant Positions 1945–2004
2013 (English)Conference paper, Presentation (Refereed)
In elite studies, some elites – such as political and economic elites – tend to be more indisputable than others, while especially cultural elites hold a more ambiguous position. The reluctance to define the cultural elite as an elite among others can be related to different factors, e.g. the self-definition of cultural elites as opponents to temporal powers and the methodological problems of defining the cultural elites. In our contribution, we set the self-definition of cultural elites aside and try to tackle the problem of defining one specific cultural elite, successful artists, by employing Bourdieu’s notion of field. After having carved out a sociological definition of the elite artists, i.e. the artist occupying the most dominant positions within the field, we investigate the social origin of the group, and thereby, reveal the ‘secular’ basis for this ’spiritual’ elite power. By using a large historical source material, presenting a wide number of dominant positions in the Swedish art field in the period 1945–2004, and prosopography as the main method, comprising a compilation of more than 645 artists’ career paths, we can both analyze structures at different times and change over time. Our main results suggest that Swedish leading artist mainly come from more privileged backgrounds and that popular classes are underrepresented. Furthermore, a shift has occurred in the recruitment patterns, where artists from cultural fractions of the middle and dominant classes are increasing their share, while the economic fractions are decreasing.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-110287OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-110287DiVA: diva2:770475
The 2013 American Sociological Association (ASA) Meeting, Section on Sociology of Culture Roundtable Session, August 10-13, 2013, New York City, USA