Fractured Culture: the sociological poetics of art, participation and well-being

Owen Logan

Research output: Other contribution


In different countries participation in the arts has become a significant theme of
government policies which foster the instrumentalisation of culture; Yúdice (2003), Belfiore and Bennett (2010), Eagleton (2014). Increasingly it is claimed that the arts have positive effects on social, political and economic well-being. The emphasis on people changing the arts ― common in the political discourses of 1970s ― has been substituted by arguments about the power of the arts to transform people’s lives. This study tests these claims comparatively. The main questions asked are: what are the differences between instrumentalism from above or below in the political order; and how do the world of the arts and letters and the world of politics speak to each other today? Through extended interviews, life stories and discourse analysis, based on fieldwork in Britain and Venezuela, the study demonstrates the complex moral interdependency between European notions of aesthetic virtue and political or civic virtues. The political structuring of these virtuous relations is shown to be morally tenuous. It is argued they express the institutionalised but inadequate compensations associated with the ‘good-faith economy’ (Bourdieu 1977). Politically these relations are problematic; among other things they discursively separate the mind from the body which means that time and other basic needs tend to be neglected. It is argued that this complex relationship between aesthetic and political virtue is a significant factor in Statecraft, and in unmaking the militant role of the organised working class. It is suggested that these dynamics are a contributory factor in the ascendancy of the political far-right internationally. To counter the influence of the good-faith economy this study proposes greater public participation in the funding processes which support the arts.
Original languageEnglish
TypeDoctoral Thesis
PublisherNorthumbria University
Number of pages381
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017


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