The social organisation of aesthetics – a note
Music and Arts in Action
University of Exeter
When reading Robert Witkin's paper from 20 years ago, I am, first and foremost, reminded that aesthetics – in even the broadest of definitions – have had a patchy and, on the whole, disappointing history in sociology. It may therefore be beneficial for me to provide a relatively broad commentary on the field of aesthetics and sociology to which Witkin's paper was an early contribution. In my own fields of interest - the ethnographic study of organisations, work and culture - the aesthetic orders of everyday life have received rather scant attention from most authors. It is as if the sociologist were so concerned to stress the mundane, the practical and the organisational that the aesthetic content and the achievement of aesthetic effects were relegated to the margins of inquiry. In one way, of course, this is entirely understandable. The sociologist or anthropologist does not wish to appear in the guise of amateur critic (although some social theorists, such as Adorno, have made their reputation through aesthetic judgements embedded in and justified by cultural commentary).
Vol. 2, No. 1, pp.69-72