Pierre Bourdieu and Jacques Rancière on art/aesthetics and politics: the origins of disagreement, 1963-1985

Article


Robbins, D. 2015. Pierre Bourdieu and Jacques Rancière on art/aesthetics and politics: the origins of disagreement, 1963-1985. The British Journal of Sociology. 66 (4), pp. 738-758.
AuthorsRobbins, D.
Abstract

Rancière published two substantial criticisms of the work of Bourdieu in the early 1980s. It
is possible that these were provoked by his sense that he needed to oppose what he
considered to be the sociological reduction of aesthetic taste offered by Bourdieu in
Distinction (Bourdieu, 1986, [1979]) at precisely the moment when he (Rancière) was
beginning to articulate his commitment to the potential of aesthetic expression as a mode of
political resistance. Except in so far as it draws upon some of the retrospective reflections
offered by Rancière in his introductions to the re-issues of his early texts, this paper examines
the parallel development of the thinking of the two men up to the mid-1980s – but not
beyond. The discussion is situated socio-historically and, by definition, does not seek to offer
comparatively any transhistorical assessment of the values of the positions adopted by the
two men. I argue that Rancière misrepresented the character of Bourdieu’s sociological work
by failing to recognize the underlying phenomenological orientation of his thinking. Bourdieu
suppressed this orientation in the 1960s but, after the May events of 1968, it enabled him to
expose the extent to which the practices of both science and art operate within constructed
‘fields’ in strategic distinction from popular primary experience. The challenge is to
introduce an ongoing dialogue between primary and constructed cultures rather than to
suppose that either social science or art possesses intrinsic autonomy.

JournalThe British Journal of Sociology
Journal citation66 (4), pp. 738-758
ISSN00071315
Year2015
PublisherWiley
Accepted author manuscript
Web address (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1468-4446.12148
Publication dates
Print12 Oct 2015
Publication process dates
Deposited21 Oct 2015
Accepted01 Jul 2015
Copyright informationThis is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Robbins, D., 2015, Pierre Bourdieu and Jacques Rancière on art/aesthetics and politics: the origins of disagreement, 1963-1985, which has been published in final form at http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1468-4446.12148. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.
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