9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN02 Sociology of the Arts

2009-09-03 09:00:00 2009-09-03 10:30:00 Thursday, 3 September 09:00 - 10:30 Arts and Criticism Building II, C6.10

Authority and Orchestration in the literary field. A Network Approach

Extensive research has been conducted on the production of symbolic capital in the literary field. Formation of a reputation and ultimately the consecration of a literary work in the history of literature can be considered the product of critics' judgments. This consecration takes place through the process of orchestration, a termed coined by Bourdieu (1990). Bourdieu's concept of orchestration, in which critics gradually attune their judgments, is in fact a process of consensus formation. During this process critics with authority are believed to play crucial roles: The authority ascribed to their judgments makes other critics attune their judgments over time.
Van Rees (1987) argues there are several institutional factors that determine critics' degree of authority, such as memberships of jury's, the prestige of the magazine or paper, the scope, wide and frequency with which critics publish. Most subsequent studies assume that consensus is reached by the institutional factors of critics. Based on those assumptions the reputation formation of authors and artists are studied, rather than the reputation formation of critics themselves.
The actual process of consensus formation and the different positions taken by critics are still rather unclear though. As a matter of fact there seems to be two different concepts of authority. First there is the concept of institutional authority as shortly noted above. Second there is a concept of authority that explains why authority has a crucial role in the process off consensus formation. Martin (2002) argues that a person A's authority is that another person B believes that he should be influenced by what person A holds to be the case, at least within some demarcated realm. This definition provides an indicator of the consensus process.

The proposed paper scrutinizes the different positions critics take in the consensus formation. Are the critics with most followers also the critics that resemble the institutional factors of authority?
The research makes use of content analysis of reviews which data are used to perform social network analysis. This analysis makes it possible to distinguish between the different positions critics take in the consensus formation.