Photography: A Middle-brow Art

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Stanford University Press, 1996 - Social Science - 218 pages
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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Photographic practice as an index and an instrument of integra
Occasions for the practice and occasional practice
ordinarily associated with the high points of family life
the least integrated subjects and often appears as a form of
The Social Definition of Photography
The hierarchy of legitimacies
the groups which tend to monopolize its use the activity
Photographic Artists
Aesthetic reminiscence and social status
ly masks the diversity of objective conditions within the profes
photographers and success

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About the author (1996)

Pierre Bourdieu is Professor of Sociology at the Collège de France and Director of the Center for European Sociology at the École de Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales.

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