Photography: A Middle-brow Art
The everyday practice of photography by millions of amateur photographers may seem to be a spontaneous and highly personal activity. But France's leading sociologist and cultural theorist Pierre Bourdieu and his research associates show that few cultural activities are more structural and systematic than photography.
This perceptive and wide-ranging analysis of the practice of photography reveals the logic implicit in this cultural field. For some social groups, photography is primarily a means of preserving the present and reproducing moments of collective celebration, whereas for other groups it is the occasion of an aesthetic judgment in which photographs are endowed with the dignity of works of art. Bourdieu and his associates examine the socially differentiated forms of photographic practice by drawing on the results of surveys and interviews and by analyzing the attitudes and characteristics of both amateur and professional photographers.
First published n 1965, Photography provides an excellent opportunity to observe key parts of Bourdieu's theories at a formative stage. Ideas that will become central to his thought--the habitus, the structuring of taste by class position, people's use of taste to distinguish themselves from the classes to which they are adjacent, and the internalization of objective probabilities--make an early appearance here. It is the first study to integrate survey research and anthropological observation in the manner for which Bourdieu has become justly renowned.
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