Fields, Markets, Capital, Commodities and Autonomy

Fields, Markets, Capital, Commodities and Autonomy

NB! Extended Deadline for CFP: January 5, 2016


Fields, markets, capitals, commodities and autonomy


The social and economic conditions for and limits of autonomy is the focus of this stream. It aims to draw in the perspectives of critical social theory and Marxist theory. From the point of view of Pierre Bourdieu’s field theory, doctrines of aesthetic autonomy were historically, and remain now, expressions of the gains in social autonomy on the part of producers of intellectual and cultural goods. That is, theories of aesthetic autonomy based on features of the art-work itself or on capacities of particular individuals to transcend the horizons of their material and social conditions were always misrecognitions of shifts in social relations, most notably with regard to the accumulation, concentration and partial redistribution of symbolic capital. The question now is whether the sources of that relative autonomy are being depleted as the production and consumption of culture is increasingly determined by economic capital alone. In its insistence on the social and material resources that create value in the relation of recognition and misrecognition, the Bourdieusian school comes very close to some of the Marxist approaches to aesthetic autonomy. The major obstacle to a rapprochement, however, lies in the essentially dissimilar ways they conceive of capital. Therein lies a bundle of complications that cannot be unraveled here, but the key opposition must be highlighted—as it is addressed by several of the conference’s invited speakers, among them Nicholas Brown—namely that the major Marxist interventions in the theorization of artistic autonomy in the recent past have been bound up with the notion of the real subsumption of the artwork under capital, implying that the control and organization of artistic production is wholly and directly a part of the capitalist economy. The relation between a Marxist analysis of autonomy and a Bourdieusian defines the stakes within one of the debates over artistic autonomy. Can the positions of a critical sociology and a Marxist critique concerning autonomy be more sharply defined? Can there be a rapprochement? At any rate, the relation between these competing materialist analyses of artistic autonomy will form a third central theme for the conference.


The conference organizers invite contributions that address the issues included in the brief description above. You can choose either to earmark your abstract for this stream, or send it in for general consideration (see CFP).