Sociologists who study the arts have focused on constructing images of "the artist" as a social type and have, therefore, been criticized by art professionals for a lack of attention to the creative process and individual artistic personalities. In this book, the author examines the diverse theoretical approaches to the study of the arts and develops a sociological approach that acknowledges the importance of aesthetic imperatives and the individual creative process while also assessing the institutional, economic, and political influences on the creation of art. The author focuses on the ways in which people become artists, the institutions in which their careers unfold, the public they need to please, and the institutional and political pressures with which they must contend. Particular subjects covered include the differing relations of art to primitive and industrialized societies; the process by which works are "recreated" at different times for new social purposes; the role of the audience in the realization of artistic experiences; and the reasons for the evolution of artistic styles. This book makes a major contribution to the development of a sociology of the arts at a time when the role of the arts in society has become a subject of increasing concern to social scientists.
"This should be the choice, hands down, to represent the study of the arts from a sociological perspective." Choice "The book is...enormously useful as a core text for upper-division and graduate students ...Zolberg unfolds her argument well...she reviews the work of most of the major figures in the field with an even hand... Writing always with clarity and respect for her past and present colleagues in the field (if not always in full agreement), Zolberg's voice remains her own: self-possessed and never soft, yet always gentle, low--and excellent." Contemporary Sociology