9th Conference European Sociological Association

RS12 Arts Management: Sociological Inquiries

2009-09-03 15:30:00 2009-09-03 17:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 15:30 - 17:00 Theoretical and Normative Considerations Building AA, AA.340

Arts management as interface between aesthetic and managerial norms -the case of the "manager" for the contemporary arts

Arts management has become a sociological object for research and theory, applying from different but overlapping perspectives. On the one hand, following the concepts of the sociology of occupations and professions, arts management is not a profession in the conventional sense as defined, e.g., by Parsons who describes professions as formal, institutionalized modes of regulation with corresponding structures of hierarchy and privileges. Instead, the profession of the arts manager is less defined by explicit formal requisites of knowledge, titles or diplomas, and is more an example for an activity that receives professional legitimation and access through (informally presented) competence and (informally constructed) connectivity to networks in the field (cf. Svensson's "new professionalism" or Nonaka & Takeuchi's "tacit management"). On the other hand, sociological interest in arts management is less oriented towards a structural theory of conventions and inclusion or exclusion but more towards a theory of action with contradictory objectives (cf. Palmer's "frames") or dispositions. For instance, arts managers can be evaluated and legitimated either by general business issues (efficiency and effectiveness, control, calculability etc., cf. Ritzer) by categories of entrepreneurship (cf. Schumpeter), by aesthetic standards in the field (cf. Bourdieu's variations of cultural capital), or by social effects that the managed arts organisation has (cf. DiMaggio). These normative contradictions refer to conflicts among definitions and legitimation, especially among art managers who emphasize their autonomy towards other (e.g., economic, political, legal or educational) fields, and arts managers who acknowledge their professional activities as cultural entrepreneurs, in the "new spirit of capitalism" (cf. Boltanski & Chiapello). This theoretical categorization of arts managers is then illustrated and exemplified by the changing role of the curator in the contemporary arts. The curator in his or her recent profession is at the interface of social fields or subsystems with their contradictory objectives. Thus, it is impossible to regard the arts manager (in the contemporary art field) as detached from aesthetic and curatorial, and purely focused on managerial issues. The legitimation and evaluation of arts managers in this field is based on both, aesthetic as well as managerial competence.