Bourdieu's political capital revisited – Artists' political activities in view of the field theory

Activity: Talk or presentationConference PresentationsResearch

Volker Kirchberg - Speaker

Marie Hoop - Speaker

In his fundamental text on field theory, Bourdieu (1993)
presents artistic success as a product of relations between
social positions that are taken actively by artists using their
endowed powers of specific symbolic capital (SSC) and other
types of capital. This position-taking is caused by the fieldinternal peer recognition of their artistic works, “but also [by]
political acts or pronouncements, manifestos or polemics”
(Bourdieu 1993: 30). Although often limited to economic
issues, the “force of heteronomy” as a detriment for artistic
autonomy can also have political elements; if members of the
art field act politically, i.e., intervene in the political field, they
might lose their status as autonomous artists (ibid, 51). In this
paper I will focus on the significance of gaining or losing artistic
symbolic capital (aSC) and political symbolic capital (pSC),
neglecting the economic capital (EC) as a force of heteronomy.
How much do participatory political activities of artists (and a
subsequent gain of political symbolic capital, pSC) increase
their artistic symbolic capital, aSC, today? Or is an informal
political activity outside the political class detrimental to peer
recognition? To test these questions, I will present a threedimensional model of artistic symbolic capital, political
symbolic capital, and political capital. The empirical data are
provided by an extensive research project about politically
active artists in four cities, Hamburg, Hanover, Jerusalem, and
Tel Aviv. The paper also wants to advance the theoretical
discussion about field theory in general, and heteronomy of
artist (as a barrier in the arts) in particular.


ESA Conference 2019: Europe and Beyond - ESA 2019: Boundaries, Barriers And Belonging


Manchester, United Kingdom

Event: Conference