9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN07 Sociology of Culture

2009-09-05 09:00:00 2009-09-05 10:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 09:00 - 10:30 Art Worlds Building II, C4.07

Worlds, fields and networks

With their respective concepts of (art) world and field, Becker and Bourdieu provide competing perspectives on the social organisation of cultural activity. Bourdieu´s framework is often preferred, with the concept of field seen to counter widely perceived flaws in the symbolic interactionist focus on concrete interaction. Bourdieu´s field analysis explicitly rejects the emphasis, found in both symbolic interactionism and network analysis, on actualised or "empirical" relations, focussing instead on the underlying "objective" relations which structure manifest social relationships. However, this focus on objective field relations has its own flaws, unduly abstracting from the substance of interpersonal relations within fields and neglecting the actor´s point of view. Becker´s framework, by contrast, makes fruitful links between concrete social connection and the resources and conventions of different milieux, but its treatment of networks is impressionistic at best. Using illustrations from a network analysis of the British punk scene, we argue that a more sustained focus on networks as features of distributed resources can extend Becker´s framework and address the criticisms that Bourdieu (and others) make of symbolic interactionism. In doing so, we provide a similar type of analysis to field analysis but one which focuses on the presence (and absence) of concrete social connections.