Between Tradition, Vision and Imagination: The Public Sphere of Literature Festivals
FESTIVALS AND THE CULTURAL PUBLIC SPHERE, G. Delanty, L. Giorgi, M. Sassatelli, eds., Routledge, 2011
19 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2011
Date Written: March 1, 2011
The contemporary relative neglect of the study of the role of arts in society has in part to do with the supremacy within sociology of the sociology of culture over cultural sociology. The antagonism between the two approaches restates an older cleavage between (historical) materialism and later critical theory, on the one hand, and theories which assign a greater emphasis on ideas and beliefs or power and status, on the other. For the sociology of culture, what is interesting about the arts is the way in which they are entangled into the processes and patterns of production and consumption characteristic of all markets, and it is perhaps for this reason that the sociology of culture has been mostly interested in the evolution of the popular music industry and the way in which the latter has impacted on cultural taste. Cultural sociology takes a more constructivist approach being more interested in the symbolic domain of cultural practices and their discursive meanings – hence also more fascinated by performance and visual arts, in addition to film and architecture. Between the obsession of the sociology of culture with popular forms of music and the fascination of cultural sociology with performance and the visual arts, literature has almost been discarded – today, the sociology of literature is not much more advanced than it was in its early years during the 1960s. Similarly, within political theory, the early interest in literary events as one of the mediums of enlightenment has given way to law and public policy as testing grounds for democratization. Against this background, this chapter uses literature festivals to explore the role of literature within public culture and, by extension, for the public sphere.
Keywords: Sociology of Literature, Public Sphere, Habermas, Festivals
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