The Artwork Made Me Do It: Introduction to the New Sociology of Art

Eduardo de la Fuente

    Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial

    26 Citations (Scopus)


    The sociology of art has experienced a significant revival during the last three decades. However, in the first instance, this renewed interest was dominated by the ‘production of culture’ perspective and was heavily focused on contextual factors such as the social organization of artistic markets and careers, and displays of ‘cultural capital’ through consumption of the arts. In this article, I outline a new mode of approaching art sociologically that begins with Alfred Gell's (1998) Art and Agency, but comes to full fruition in what I am calling the ‘new sociology of art’. A major theoretical statement that captures many of the aspirations of the new approach is Jeffrey Alexander's essay: ‘Iconic Consciousness: The Material Feeling of Meaning’. It is suggested that the new sociology of art has much in common with material culture studies, and that a more robust concept of the artwork's agency is needed now that art has well and truly taken on a social and cultural life well beyond those institutions traditionally understood as the ‘art world’.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3-9
    Number of pages7
    JournalThesis Eleven
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2010


    • aesthetic agency
    • Alexander
    • artwork and art worlds
    • Gell
    • iconicity
    • new sociology of art


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