Poetics 35 (2007) 47–65 www.elsevier.


A general theory of artistic legitimation: How art worlds are like social movements
Shyon Baumann *
Department of Sociology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario M5S 2J4, Canada Available online 7 August 2006

Abstract In this article I develop a general theory for explaining how cultural products are legitimated as art, whether high or popular art. The theory generalizes from the large body of existing sociological research on art world development while integrating ideas from the sociology of social movements and from social psychology. I argue that there is an analogy between social movement success and recognition as art, so that the major concepts that explain the paths of social movements also apply to art worlds: political opportunity structures, resource mobilization, and framing processes. In addition, I incorporate the social psychological perspective on legitimacy to specify the process by which art worlds achieve artistic legitimation. # 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

A central question within the sociology of art concerns how cultural products are legitimated as art, whether high or popular.1 A large and growing number of studies have convincingly documented that recognition of art is a social process that cannot be reduced to a reflection of artistic merit. These studies help to clarify why some culture receives this recognition while some does not, and why this recognition can wax and wane. How can we generalize between these studies to understand artistic legitimation as a general process? In this paper I bring together work from social psychology on legitimation with the sociological literature on social movements to offer a general theory to explain how some cultural productions achieve legitimation as art. I contend that the processes by which social movements succeed and culture is recognized as art are parallel processes of legitimation that share

* Tel.: +1 416 978 8262. E-mail address: shyon.baumann@utoronto.ca. 1 The distinction of interest here is between cultural products recognized as art and cultural products that are considered non-art, rather than between high and popular art. Hierarchy between art worlds is a worthy, but separate, phenomenon to be studied. 0304-422X/$ – see front matter # 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.poetic.2006.06.001

Mueller and Landsman... the area has matured into a well-organized field of study. This perspective identified three broad explanatory factors: political opportunity structures. Many studies have explored how art is implicated in inequality. 2004. 2000. 2000. 2003. Koopmans and Olzak. identity. scholarship on legitimacy has developed in various directions across social scientific disciplines. One strain of research within the sociology of art has focused on understanding how some cultural productions are legitimated. 1986) or single parenthood (Bock.. Ford and Johnson. Because social movements have received a vast amount of sociological attention over the last several decades.. Benford and Snow. Yet another body of work on legitimacy examines how self-concepts develop to rationalize various social conditions – such as class position (Della and Richard. 2004).’’ Accordingly. I argue that with due elaboration. 2000. justice. the institutionalization of resources and practices. Within sociology. legitimation refers to the acceptance of personal claims for status and authority as valid. Hedstrom et al. 1998. and built bridges between one or more of them to bodies of knowledge outside social movements (Dixon and Rosigno.. 405) argues that studies of art worlds have likewise relied on three explanatory factors: a changing cultural opportunity space. the study of legitimation within the sociology of art is concerned with how cultural productions are repositioned—both institutionally and . resource mobilization. 2003. While moving the research forward. Baumann (2001. 2000) – to the self. Ingram and Rao. 1980. 2001). I review the literature on social movements and on artistic recognition to show how three main explanatory factors are present in each. In this work. Jenkins et al. The payoff of this mapping is (1) an outline of a general theory of art world legitimation. Meyer and Minkoff. 2003. Ferree. there is a great deal of work on legitimacy that is concerned with different forms of legitimation. 1997. and framing processes. Soule. In contrast to these other fields. 1997. For example. this work simultaneously recognizes the value of the three factors as a basic agenda for social movement analysis. Likewise. legitimation is a process whereby the new and unaccepted is rendered valid and accepted. 2004. 2004.. McAdam et al. markets. Kluegel et al. More recent work on social movements has elaborated on these factors (Almeida. 4) notes that ‘‘[l]egitimacy is one of the oldest problems in social thought. 2001). p. 1. Einwohner. much of the work within political sociology on the legitimacy of political regimes (Diamond. 2003. 1989) discusses a similar form of legitimacy at the society level. Zelditch. and a legitimating ideology. and prestige in faceto-face settings (Berger et al. explaining the acceptance of group claims for authority. 2000.48 S. content. Weil. Legitimation as a process The sociology of art addresses a wide array of questions about cultural production. 2004). Zelditch (2001. p. in other collective enterprises with ideological commitments. Tarifa. 1996a). and (2) a foundation for explaining legitimation processes outside art and protest. Baumann / Poetics 35 (2007) 47–65 fundamental similarities. politics. and reception. Within the sociology of art. Meyer. 1998. 2004. 2003. In this case. A 1996 book edited by some of the most influential scholars in the field synthesized decades of social movements research to create a comprehensive perspective on social movement development (McAdam et al. and other social phenomena. 1999. demonstrated how they influence one another or work in concert (Cress and Snow. Hegtvedt and Johnson. the social movement theoretical perspectives can be mapped onto Baumann’s categorization of art world studies. social-psychologically oriented work on interpersonal relations examines the legitimacy of authority. organizations.

whether that be popular or high art. that can be studiously examined and analyzed. for abstract sculpture to be considered a valid genre of sculpture. For the purposes of art. 1982). enjoyment. consensus must exist among the general public. 10). it remains to be seen how successful such claims would be. commerce. 1976. and a message or philosophy. That is to say. with attention to who functions as gatekeepers in different art worlds. This consensus will never be absolute. further development of Crane’s insight about the parallels between these cultural realms offers the potential for expanding the scope of this paper to legitimation processes in these realms as well. though by no means absolute. p. or rules. near-consensus counts as consensus. especially among white. The justification. the justifications are found by various audiences to be convincing arguments for the case for rap as popular art. and the justifications for these claims are widely accepted. 2001. Rap’s legitimacy has steadily increased so that it now enjoys recognition as a legitimate popular art. ‘‘[l]egitimacy requires consensus only somewhere. 721–722). there must be consensus among artistic consumers. 10) notes. consensus needs to be defined minimally—it is issuespecific. The legitimacy of rap music when it was first created was quite low. values. for example. middle-class audiences. As Zelditch (2001. In contrast. For example. . consensus must exist among the inner members of an art world. Baumann / Poetics 35 (2007) 47–65 49 intellectually. For example. broadly defined. Literature fits the existing and accepted category of art. This recognition reflects a fairly wide. For external legitimacy. that this is the case. Consensus is achieved through justification (Zelditch. Should the art world for rap make claims that rap is a legitimate high art form. pp. Crane (1976) provides a typology of ‘‘reward systems’’ that distinguishes between how innovations are evaluated in different kinds of art worlds. not 2 Crane’s article explains how reward systems are common across art. One way of labeling the audiences among whom consensus must be reached in these different systems is to distinguish between internal and external audiences. For internal legitimacy. Zelditch (2001) provides a useful set of concepts for specifying the components of legitimation as a process within the sociology of art. Legitimacy. It is an expressive work. from merely entertainment. created by an artist – the author –. A justification is an argument made to explain how the unaccepted is in fact acceptable because it conforms to existing. The art world for opera makes claims that opera is high art. This repositioning allows the productions to be redefined. consensus can be measured at various levels within an art world (Becker. but rather can be present in widely varying amounts and among various constituencies. of course. is not a dichotomous variable. science and religion. opera is highly legitimated as a high art form.2 The systems vary from those where ‘‘cultural innovations are produced for an audience of fellow innovators’’ (independent reward system) to those ‘‘in which cultural innovations are produced for heterogeneous audiences composed of members of a variety of subcultures’’ (heterocultural reward system) (Crane. for example. p. Although his work on legitimation concerns small-group interactions. and in which audiences can find beauty. for literature as art is so familiar that it is practically invisible. as there is never complete consensus within a society about anything. for sculpture to be considered art. 2001. consensus must exist among sculptors and art scholars and critics that this is the case. Although we are interested especially in art worlds. fad. or cultural experimentation or randomness to culture that is legitimately artistic. valid norms. p. For this reason. and it need only exist at the collective level and not necessarily at the individual level (Zelditch. 10). Legitimation occurs when the unaccepted is made accepted through consensus. consensus that the justifications for rap as art are valid.S.

2001. Lopes.3 The civil rights movement. the social movements literature most often focuses on movements that contain an ideological element to them. Baumann / Poetics 35 (2007) 47–65 everywhere. 1982. Levine. 2002. is generated through a process of collective action. 1972.’’ a condition which helps us to understand variations in degrees of legitimacy that cultural productions might have.’’ They argue that social movements must be understood according to their ‘‘symbolic’’ and ‘‘expressive’’ significance. legitimacy. of course. 2. because social movements are ‘‘the social action from where new knowledge originates’’ (Eyerman and Jamison. 2001). There are. Ferguson. 1991. Moreover. 1997. social movements are similar to art worlds in the goals of their collective action. Sussman. 1991. Nevertheless. I then describe the main components of a general theory of legitimation – opportunities. In each case. 48). These studies of widely divergent artistic forms show how a certain amount of consensus was achieved regarding their legitimacy. 694). p. we need to analyze the institutional and social relations of the field or world. 1965. DeNora. resources. namely the creation and legitimation of new ideas. Similarly. and the legitimation of culture is always achieved collectively. Watt. Bowler. I argue that social movement success is a process of legitimation that is parallel to artistic legitimation. In the following sections I first explain why several key similarities allow us to apply insights from social movements to art worlds. Baumann. Rawlings. many kinds of social movements and they seek to achieve a variety of goals. 1997. Peterson. How are social movements like art worlds? Social movements are similar to art worlds in several important aspects. 1997). 1992. in the sense that the movement strives to promote a counter-hegemonic idea. There have been numerous studies of the legitimation of cultural productions. Since the pioneering work of both Becker (1974. there is consensus that social movements are collective activity (Olzak and Uhrig. and framing – and show how these concepts are employed within research on social movements and also how they accurately represent existing work in the sociology of art on legitimation. 2001. Rachlin. I argue that these case studies of artistic legitimation can be understood according to a general theory of legitimation. although there are inconsistencies in the literature concerning some aspects of what constitutes a social movement. 1997. In order to understand the nature of cultural production and evaluation. for Eyerman and Jamison (1991) make a strong case for focusing the analysis of social movements on what they call ‘‘cognitive praxis. 1997. I argue that this theory has been articulated and developed in the sociological literature on social movements. and the aesthetic characteristics of culture. 3 . 1982) and Bourdieu (1993). Cherbo. 2001. Most importantly for the purposes at hand. I conclude by contrasting my argument with other recent work on collective enterprises with ideological commitments and by suggesting paths for future research. Other studies have examined how cultural productions that had legitimacy in one field gained legitimacy in a new field (Molnar. as a social space where new ideas or knowledge are formulated and promoted. we have understood that art worlds and cultural fields are sites of collective action. 2002. Some of the studies have explained how cultural forms gained widespread legitimacy as popular or high art (Ardery. 1993. to greater and to lesser extents. 1998. or how cultural productions that had some legitimacy gained yet more (Corse and Westervelt. Cultural production and reception are acts that are inherently collective. p. makes salient a crucial similarity with art worlds. van Rees. DiMaggio. Zolberg.50 S. 2005. This perspective on social movements. 1983). White and White. 1988.

pp. For the purposes of this paper. success is conceived as the attainment of legitimacy. A cultural field is structured around ‘‘agents producing belief in the value of goods in question’’ (van Rees and Dorleijn. Baumann / Poetics 35 (2007) 47–65 51 example. In this sense. 1994. 2001). Although clearly related. sought wider acceptance of the idea that minorities should enjoy the same legal rights as the majority. for example. It is the legitimation processes of ideas that are argued to be parallel to the legitimation processes in art worlds. need to be justified as well. to the extent that the legitimation process is driven primarily by core. then. members of the art world. What counts as adequate change? Consider. as opposed to peripheral. Ambiguity also exists concerning what constitutes art world success. system of rewards. 2000. This conception is supported by Gamson’s (1990) category of ‘‘acceptance’’ as a social movement outcome. taken-for-granted character’’ (McLaughlin and Khawaja. 2001. and values rather than on class-based politics (Bernstein. how despite many obvious ‘‘successes’’ of the civil rights movement. For a successful outcome. 2001. Becker’s (1982) analysis extends the boundaries of art worlds to audience members who merely know the conventions of an art form. Many environmental movements seek to legitimate ideas that overturn prevailing notions about the subservience of nature to social needs. though. identity. As a specific form of social movement. 1994). or political system’’ (Olzak and Uhrig. Olzak and Uhrig. Minkoff. there exists more similarity than difference between art worlds and social movements on this point. The same characterization can be made of gay rights movements and the women’s movement. NSMs are also largely about identity politics. either policy-makers or the public at large.6 In the terms of legitimation outlined above. This description is often employed to define other kinds of group membership as well. 2003. Giugni.5 Ambiguity exists concerning what constitutes social movement success (Andrews. but the right to make claims. Not only do the claims about artistic status need to be justified. NSMs are particularly similar to art worlds through their focus on the importance of the acceptance of ideas. 2005). However. For some art worlds. Because it is possible to point to examples of legitimation in art worlds involving a link to identity politics (as in jazz and in rap). However. p. . 694–695) that social movements seek. especially that which bridges the sociological literature on organizations (McLaughlin and Khawaja. p. merely 4 Environmental movements are one example of what are termed new social movements (NSMs) in social movements ˜ a et al. Art world success can also be equated with the attainment of legitimacy. and the bases on which those claims are made. one important goal is to legitimate – make accepted – an idea that was initially not widely accepted. and these members would consider themselves part of that art world. 5 One way of describing the boundaries of a social movement is to say that it includes those participants who would consider themselves as members. NSMs are generally distinguished from other social movements because they are based on research (Laran ideology. 6 In some social movements literature. Bernstein. 1990. whereby targeted audiences come to regard the movement’s ideas and goals as legitimate. 423) among a target public. Gamson. there are lingering inequalities. and it is beyond the scope of this paper to theorize about the role that identity politics plays in art worlds. 1998). This acceptance is key to the further change in the ‘‘social structure.S. 332). perhaps even causally related. Art worlds. For art worlds.4 In these and other social movements. art worlds differ from social movements. While artists themselves work to create art. the legitimacy of tactics and organizational forms is analytically distinct from the legitimacy of social movement ideas or goals. in this sense. there must be consensus that the ideas championed by the social movement are justified. legitimacy often refers to the acceptance of the tactics or organizational forms that social movements adopt. Such audience members are unlikely to consider themselves part of that art world. There are various ways of measuring success for social movements. can be said to be doubly concerned with legitimacy. This ambiguity derives in part from the fact that different art worlds have different goals and different measures of success. particularly new art worlds that are experimental or radical. there are many agents within cultural fields who assign value to cultural productions and also work to sustain the legitimacy of those assignments. the central ideas championed by a movement must gain a ‘‘common sense. future research should incorporate work on identity into studies of art world development and legitimation. 2001. 2000..

high or popular art. restricted audience corresponds more closely to the internal legitimacy of an art world. 8 Although this paper emphasizes work on the legitimation of innovations – new productions – in art worlds. Baumann / Poetics 35 (2007) 47–65 producing anything at all might be considered success.52 S. the concept has achieved ‘‘near canonical stature in the study of social movements’’ (Almeida. elite audience. 7 . We can better understand how social movements emerge. the concept has been criticized for being overextended (Gamson and Meyer. Once established.’’ referring to ‘‘the existence of competitors. 44) as an ‘‘opportunity space. artistic legitimation may involve the embrace of culturally innovative work or a positive reevaluation of formerly rejected or disputed art. the concept endures in the literature. whether that be a restricted. Almeida and Stearns (1998) argue that the likelihood of success of local grassroots environmental movements in Japan was influenced by the presence of a national anti-pollution movement. and (2) I synthesize work in the sociology of art to show that independent studies complement one another to support a general theory of artistic legitimation. Within the sociology of art.1. As such. this perspective has developed in the social movements literature to refer chiefly to characteristics of the political environment in which movements operate. and ideological assistance to local movements. The state was more loosely nested within the Western security alliance. 2003. commercial substitutes. as discussed above.’’ The core idea is that certain exogenous factors can affect the The elite. As it has been employed by researchers. Nevertheless. and it is the subject of both theoretical fine tuning and empirical testing. For example. 345). 1999). Another example comes from Meyer (2003) who argues that the success of the anti-nuclear movement in New Zealand was facilitated by the political context specific to New Zealand. 1996) as well as for being imprecisely or uselessly conceptualized (Goodwin and Jasper. p.7 Acceptance by an audience that the art world’s activities are legitimate culture. most art worlds exist with an audience in mind. and – most importantly for the present discussion – how they succeed if we understand what is going on in the wider society that influences them. or publics and patrons of new wealth. evolve. the analogous idea was labeled by DiMaggio (1992. Having been in use for several decades.8 3. it is worth noting that the process of artistic legitimation applies equally to the ‘‘rediscovery’’ of artistic works and art worlds. I show how each concept has analogs within the body of case studies that comprise the work in the sociology of art on artistic legitimation. The core of the concept is that context matters. I achieve two goals simultaneously: (1) I bridge these two disparate areas of research to show how the sociology of art can benefit from social movements research. or a mass audience. this national movement could lend financial. and there were no existing US bases that would have required removal. Opportunity: exogenous factors facilitate success Sometimes labeled ‘‘political opportunities’’ and sometimes ‘‘opportunity structures’’ as well as several variants thereof. helping the movement to succeed. constitutes the main measure of an art world’s success. Success in social movements and art worlds: three explanatory factors In this section I describe the three concepts from social movements research that are employed to explain social movement success. the political costs for adoption of a ban in New Zealand were relatively low. strategic. thereby helping them to succeed. p. and the mass audience corresponds to the external legitimacy of an art world. Just as social movements may be revolutionary or reactionary. 3. However.

various studies of art worlds have pointed to important elements of an opportunity space. including: (1) structural factors versus signaling factors that work at a symbolic or communicative level. In their studies of the establishment of cultural hierarchy in the United States. both DiMaggio (1982) and Levine (1988) cite class and ethnic conflict during a time of rapid industrialization and urbanization as important to the timing of the elevation of the high arts. White and White (1965) cite the inability of the Royal Academic system to provide work for the growing number of painters centered in Paris as a reason why an alternate system developed for painting and its distribution and evaluation. Baumann (2001) argues that film’s elevation to an art form in the US was facilitated by the drastic growth in the number of people with post-secondary education. helping to legitimate theater as art. Other elements of the opportunity space can be more specific to the art world in question. Peterson (1972. a cultural production that was strongly African American in its practitioners and audiences. DeNora (1991) contends that an ideology of ‘‘serious’’ classical music was formulated in the late 18th century by the Viennese aristocracy when the bourgeoisie became wealthy enough to threaten the aristocracy’s monopoly on classical music concerts. However. DiMaggio (1992) reasons that when movies became popular. While the second of these distinctions has already been taken into account above. existing studies of artistic legitimation often group these kinds of factors . The distinctions that were drawn between the composers claimed by aristocrats and the large number of other composers created status differences between musical ‘‘geniuses’’ and the average composer. Some of these elements are broad changes in the wider society. p. The idea that exogenous factors are relevant in explaining legitimation processes is common in the study of social movements and art.S. Both developments were significant in making possible the rise of Impressionism. in their study of the rise of Impressionism in France. Watt (2001) connects the rise of the novel in 18th century England with changing socioeconomic conditions that created a reading public with the time and propensity to read long fiction. Regarding the difference between structural factors and symbolic factors. which created a pool of potential patrons. third. Baumann (2001) cites the advent of television as a lower status dramatic alternative to film as a factor in film’s artistic legitimation.’’ That is to say that jazz. a relationship documented by Lopes (2002) as well. was more readily elevated to artistic status after the reduction in discriminatory attitudes about blacks among the public and elites. Also. they in effect diverted much of the working class audience for serious theater. advances in paint technology opened the door to amateur painters by increasing the locations where painting could be done and the colors available and by decreasing the need for some of the artisan skills in preparing materials. For example. Meyer and Minkoff (2004) argue that analysts need to make a set of distinctions when examining the role of the political environment. for example. (2) general factors within the political environment versus factors that are specific to the movement under study. and fourth must be applied to art worlds to explain how different factors have different roles to play within legitimation processes. (3) factors that influence mobilization versus factors that influence social movement success. 147). notes that ‘‘the ideological interpretation of jazz in the cultural media has closely paralleled official attitudes towards blacks in this country. the first. Baumann / Poetics 35 (2007) 47–65 53 likelihood that an art world will succeed in attaining legitimacy. the sociology of art can benefit from recent advances in social movements research that clarify and refine the concept of an opportunity space. a new art world was prompted by economic change among the group who comprised the art world. In a similar vein. In this case. The need for elites to culturally segregate themselves created an opportunity for certain cultural productions to serve as high art mechanisms of distinction. Although not always labeled as such. and (4) factors that movement members are cognizant of versus those factors of which they are unaware.

how the advent of television might have created an opportunity for film (Baumann. Likewise. Here. Instead. What is needed is not to excise from studies of legitimation those exogenous factors that are significant primarily for their influence on art world formation. endogenous factors matter. it makes sense to think of art world formation as an essential part of the legitimation process. 3. For example. In contrast. Future research on artistic legitimation should be careful to maintain this distinction by specifying which types of exogenous variables are at work. In contrast. more nuanced. Consider. future research should be careful to specify at which point in the legitimation process environmental factors are operating. This issue is the topic of the next section. By noting this distinction in the kinds of exogenous factors at play.2. the evolution of widely-held values and beliefs about race and racial differences cited in the studies of jazz by Peterson and Lopes points to a different mechanism. Resources: endogenous factors facilitate success The core of this concept is the inverse of political opportunities. within the sociology of art. for example. quite helpful for legitimation. Baumann / Poetics 35 (2007) 47–65 together. this difference should be noted in future research because it allows for a clearer. not formation. research would better emphasize the two different causal mechanisms they imply. structural or symbolic. the organizational changes in the French art world studied by White and White imply a causal mechanism of resource provision: the changes in the artistic environment influenced the availability and distribution of resources in ways that favored the growth of Impressionism. For example. There is no need to define one or the other outside the concept of an opportunity space. there is value in specifying how a given factor operates in order to determine the kind of response an opportunity generates within an art world. Were film world participants ` -vis television? Was television’s influence a strategizing about how best to position film vis-a ` -vis television? As a feature of function of how audiences subconsciously evaluated films vis-a the opportunity space for film. The usefulness of these distinctions is that they save the concept of an opportunity space from doing too much analytical work on its own. 2001). and more accurate depiction of the legitimation process. an exogenous factor is relevant because it created prestige and status for an artistic form.54 S. television could have functioned in both manners simultaneously. In that case. Regarding the distinction between factors influencing mobilization and factors influencing legitimation. . However. sociologists of art need a concept of opportunity space that provides further guidance about how to understand the different roles played by different kinds of exogenous factors. There is intuitive appeal to the idea that social movement success depends on the power drawn from accrued resources. the changes in attitudes towards race cited by Peterson and Lopes speak directly to the acceptance. the socioeconomic changes cited by DeNora – the bourgeoisie’s threat to the economic supremacy of the aristocracy – in accounting for the formation of an art world for ‘‘serious’’ classical music speaks in the first instance to the formation or initiation of that art world. Meyer and Minkoff (2004) also argue for a distinction between factors that movement members are cognizant of from those factors of which they are unaware. So why include environmental factors that influence art world formation in this discussion? Since there can be no legitimation unless there has been a prior initiation. we should distinguish between these factors because they imply very different mechanisms within the legitimation process. The degree to which art world participants are acting strategically and with agency is an important dimension of the legitimation process. To be useful. of an art world for jazz.

preserve. is that although poetry requires few resources in its physical production. To explain artistic legitimation. if legitimacy exists as a resource. restore.the successfulcreationanddeploymentofvarioustypes of resources are required for any art world to endure and to attain recognition as art in the first place. emotional energy. however. SMOs not only generate and direct movement resources. knowledge. labor. requires less in the way of physical. office supplies. Opera. The reason for this emphasis is the simple fact that movements most often occur through the efforts of SMOs.’’ The mobilization of resources is the grounding concept of an art world because it so strongly shifts the perspective away from art as the creation of an individual artist toward art as collective action.Becauseallartiscollective action. prestige and status. and prestige or status. . and survival of cultural 9 Cress and Snow (1996. organizations that advocate on behalf of the homeless are both resource-seeking – they need money. etc. the symbolic production of its value is a larger enterprise altogether. but the distinction echoes the division between structural and symbolic environmental factors. such as institutional settings and venues and equipment or supplies. we need to know which resources are mobilized and to understand the particular benefits brought by particular kinds of resources. Resources are also central to explanations of art world legitimation. 1996). However. Different kinds of art worlds rely to varying extents on different kinds of resources. and personnel support. 1090) cite legitimacy itself as a resource. Both kinds of resources contribute to legitimation. consider the heavy emphasis scholars place on social movement organizations (SMOs). The lesson we learn from Bourdieu and Becker. it is nonetheless true that a movement is seeking to expand or to further that legitimacy by gaining acceptance of its further goals. This is of course true insofar as the attainment of legitimacy regarding initial claims can be used to win acceptance of later claims. in addition to its physical resources. financial. physical equipment or assets.9 The ability of a movement to mobilize resources is crucial to determining its path. Various kinds of resources are frequently involved in artistic legitimation. for example. labor. critics. network connections and institutionalized relationships. The same is true of opera. Or legitimacy based on preexisting institutional or personal authority can also be capitalized on by a social movement to advance its goals. organizational forms. they can take the form of money. chapter 3. and leadership. The title of the relevant chapter in Becker’s (1982) seminal work on art worlds. however. and promote art gives them an enormous amount of control over the value. informal traditions.S. Some resources take a physical form. but they can also be conceived as resources in themselves. p. visibility. Other resources do not take concrete form. In this way. Physical resources help to accomplish the practical work involved in art worlds while non-physical resources help to accomplish the necessary symbolic work. for example. to survive – and a resource at the disposal of the movement to ameliorate the conditions for the homeless (Cress and Snow. experience. To see how resources are central in studies of movement success. Baumann / Poetics 35 (2007) 47–65 55 What do these researchers have in mind when referring to resources? Resources can be tangible or intangible. The labor of publishers. Museums assist in art worlds in the provision of both physical and non-physical resources. The resources inherent in art museums are perhaps the most commonly cited within the sociology of art. requires vast physical resources in terms of the construction of appropriate venues and the provision of the equipment and supplies necessary to stage an opera. such as organizational principles. The cultural field of poetry. is ‘‘Mobilizing Resources. display. and scholars involved in the evaluation and teaching of poetry are valuable resources necessary for poetry’s legitimation. Their ability – indeed their mission – to collect. Mobilization is a necessary condition of success.

In order to work effectively. can serve as a non-physical resource. such as was the case for American folk art (Ardery. to the extent that they create a sensible and working division of labor. Studies of the art of the insane (Bowler. Nonetheless. 1972). African art (Rawlings. there must be a division of labor within art worlds. 1997) convincingly document the role played by private galleries. 1982) and the legitimation of African religious and tribal artifacts as high art (Zolberg. Rucht. universities can preserve and disseminate knowledge of cultural content while simultaneously bestowing legitimacy on that content by its very inclusion. and by connecting art works with new owners they participate in the preservation of art. The sociology of art can especially benefit by borrowing an emphasis in the social movements literature on a particular kind of non-physical resource—tactics and strategies. 2001. and in order to be in agreement with existing conceptions of what art is. Studies that document and explain tactical ‘‘repertoires’’ in social movements (Clemens. their decisions about which cultural productions to sponsor are accepted as legitimate by other art world members as well as by the wider art public for art (Bourdieu. This self-concept is less salient for most art world members. literature departments serve to sustain the place of fiction and poetry among the arts. and by journals to disseminate knowledge about photographic techniques. What is more. This difference in emphasis is understandable. The internal dynamics of an art world. Through their curricula. This same function can be achieved more intensively when a university creates a department or research center devoted to an art. Similarly. as centers of cultural authority.56 S. These institutions also have the cultural authority to persuasively label certain cultural productions as art. physical resources were provided by emergent firms – supply houses – to specialize in the production and distribution of the materials necessary to carry it out. High status private auction houses such as Sotheby’s and Christie’s in New York are another resource in art worlds. 1997) and jazz (Peterson. The role of universities has been argued to have helped to legitimate modern dance (DiMaggio. 1993). 1990) can be adapted to the context of cultural production to demonstrate how art worlds . In this way. This division of labor was itself a symbolic resource. Universities serve as a resource in diverse ways. while departments of film and photography do the same for those genres. 1993). The acts of utilizing or creating resources are often conceptualized instead as contributions toward an apolitical goal of art world development. Like museums. 1997). Battani (1999). Association with these houses is helpful in itself to provide prestige. Baumann / Poetics 35 (2007) 47–65 productions. high status galleries provide a physical space to bring together works or art. Sussman. shows how the role of the photographer was socially constructed into a useful resource within the art world of photography in the 19th century in the US. often an early step in a process of consecration where the actions of museums come near the end. roles needed in photographic practice. These works are then ‘‘packaged’’ to an art-buying public. 1997). and Pop Art (Cherbo. Museums have played a role in legitimating painting and sculpture as high art in 19th century Boston (DiMaggio. serving to put forward an artist within this new art world. they are one of the legitimating organizations par excellence (Bourdieu. 1992. and savvy art world members will recognize the necessity of strategy and tactics. 1997). 2001). art world success depends on gaining power. Existing studies of the sociology of art tend not to characterize resource mobilization as strategic or tactical. for example. 1993. more practical and supporting. Strategizing and tactical deployment are the conscious activities of social movement participants because they come together precisely to influence the balance of power regarding a particular issue. In contrast to this symbolic resource. The photographer developed as separate from the other. but they also provide visibility. Yet another key provider of resources are universities. who come together for cultural production. Olzak and Uhrig.

Religious groups.’’ and they point to the example of medical 10 This point is recognized by DiMaggio (1992) regarding the organizational forms available to art worlds. framing is invoked to represent far too many phenomena that scholars wish to label as cultural. valid. it is the role of framing in helping to achieve legitimation for the goals of a social movement that is of interest here. Frames and ideologies are both necessary concepts. Ideology. is an activity that convinces audience members about how to derive a ‘‘correct’’ understanding or meaning. and desirable. marketed. dance and opera in the US borrowed the preexisiting organizational form – nonprofit trusteeship – invented for museums and orchestras. Ferree and Merrill (2000. As Oliver and Johnston (2000) explain. Moreover. contains those values and ideas to which framing appeals in order to be convincing. McAdam et al. on the other hand.3. 455) argue. Framing. the existence of which are resources at the disposal of art world members. Baumann / Poetics 35 (2007) 47–65 57 might learn from or imitate one another. Through its various incantations. Discourse. p. 3.’’ While the role of framing in mobilization is interesting. The women’s movement framed abortion as a women’s issue. He argues that theater.Ideology. 1986) in order to be made comprehensible. the concept of framing has been criticized for being employed too liberally and without sufficient coherence. their strategic and tactical behavior is not always evident. Oliver and Johnston (2000) argue that framing is a valuable concept that should continue to be central in social movement research. Movements’ goals and tactics need to be ‘‘framed’’ (Snow et al. Framing processes have been a central concept within the study of social movements for at least the last two decades as scholars have utilized framing as a way of bringing a cultural element back in to the area. ideology. This means that they need to be explained. appealing to a Christian ideology that upheld the value of the sanctity of all life. p. framed abortion as a religious issue. acceptable. artists often are strategic. appealing to a feminist ideology that upheld women’s autonomy and rights. Like political opportunity. or packaged in a way that convinces or resonates with a target audience.. and frames: legitimation requires an explanation A third main explanatory factor in social movement success points to the role of ideas.butto beuseful itshouldbe employed inaway that respects pastwork onideology. .S.Thecontrastwithframingliesinthedifferencebetweencontent and process. 6) credit David Snow with a conception of framing that they themselves employ: ‘‘the conscious strategic efforts by groups of people to fashion shared understandings of the world and of themselves that legitimate and motivate collective action. Discourses. as per Snow’s formulation cited above. they explain. Ferree and Merrill (2000) provide yet further sophistication to the thinking of framing by explaining how the concept of ‘‘discourse’’ relates to frame and ideology. There are two different frames invoking elements of two different ideologies. supporting members of art worlds are not held to the same standard of disinterestedness.10 Because artists must demonstrate sufficient ‘‘disinterestedness’’ to maintain credibility. however. Nevertheless. Various elements within the pro-choice and pro-life movements in the US framed the issue differently in ways that invoked different ideologies. the analytic utility of separating frames and ideologies can be seen in the case of abortion in the US. (1996b. is a complex system of related ideas that combines an explanation of the world with normativeprescriptionsforbehavior. Future research on artistic legitimation should be sensitive to the extent to which art world building is indeed constituted by strategies and tactics. ‘‘are broad systems of communication that link concepts together in a web of relationships through an underlying logic.

which ‘‘is a way of talking and thinking about things that links idea elements into packages’’ (Ferree and Merrill. but different. discourses have a loose logic and provide the vocabulary and concepts needed for communication. discourses are at the top of the inverted pyramid. DeNora (1991. then. condition. is the concept of frame. or object. and frames are tight cognitive structures that direct thinking and interpretation about a concrete issue. Moreover. 405) argues that ‘‘a legitimating ideology’’ was developed within the art world for film and disseminated through film reviews. while ideologies are one level down.’’ ‘‘artistic. p.’’ ‘‘good art. Molnar (2005. shows how modernist architecture was imported into Hungary and ‘‘that interpretive schemes and strategies play a decisive role in the reception and legitimation of internationally diffused ‘foreign’ ideas and cultural models. Baumann / Poetics 35 (2007) 47–65 discourse as a way that doctors communicate about health through an underlying logic that centers on diseases and cures. 44) argues that these art worlds imitated the earlier high art worlds of art museums and symphonies. however. I argue that the distinctions between discourse. Framing is the discursive process of applying frames. p. p. Becker (1982) persuasively argues that aestheticians (or philosophers of art) and critics play essential. DiMaggio (1992. 130). 22) played a role in these cases of artistic legitimation. p. 456). roles within art worlds. which invokes the reasoning or values of an ideology. At the lowest level. and envision the relationship between these concepts and discourse as an inverted pyramid. this set of concepts can be reconciled with Becker’s pioneering work on the role of aestheticians and critics in art worlds. 2000. In his examination of how some literary works become consecrated as ‘‘masterpieces. a ‘‘clearly articulated ideology’’ (DiMaggio. 314) claims that aristocrats developed an ‘‘ideology’’ of serious music and that this ‘‘aesthetic’’ was based on a hierarchical scheme of evaluation in contrast to the more inclusive aesthetic that preceded it. 1992.’’ In explaining the elevation of theater. ideas are accorded a central role in the legitimation of culture. Compared to the social movements literature. ideologies have a coherent logic that provides an understanding of the world as well as norms and values.’’ van Rees (1983) assesses the fundamental roles of three different types of critical ‘‘discourse. Baumann (2001. and it is done by applying (and sometimes inventing) a frame. It is the work that seeks to convince a target audience about the correct perspective to be used and the correct conclusions to be drawn. for example. p. p. Aestheticians study the premises and arguments people use to justify classifying things and activities as ‘‘beautiful.and early 19th-century Vienna. In sum. Within the sociology of art. Because it is the least analytically coherent and most broad.’’ In other words. The sociology of art can clearly benefit from theoretical advances within the social movements literature on framing. p. Ferree and Merrill embrace Oliver and Johnston’s conceptualization of ideology and frames. and that this ideology was a key factor in film’s elevation to art in the US. 455). through the tools made available in a discourse.’’ In explaining the elevation of great composers and serious works of classical music in late 18th. 2000. dance. and opera as legitimate art forms. and that ‘‘the justifications developed by founders of the nation’s first art museums and orchestras served as ready-made ideological resources that cultural entrepreneurs could employ across a range of other art forms. They construct systems with which to make and justify both the . and frames reviewed above can be applied to work in the sociology of art to clarify how ideas function to legitimate culture in fundamentally similar ways across cultural genres.’’ and so on.’’ ‘‘not art. there is far less agreement about how to label and understand the role of ideas.58 S. Studies of art world legitimation have not settled on a common set of concepts for explaining how culture is legitimated ideationally.’’ ‘‘bad art. ideology. Ideologies are ‘‘considerably more coherent than discourses because they are organized around systematic ideas and normative claims’’ (Ferree and Merrill. event.

2002. p. critics began to interpret films for their messages or meanings. Critics apply aesthetic systems to specific art works and arrive at judgments of their worth and explications of what gives them that worth (Becker. Baumann (2001) argues that US film criticism changed in the 1960s. a larger ideology to which the Romantic ideology of art is linked. unsophisticated. p. More narrowly defined art worlds. The concept of discourse can be incorporated into this analysis without need for ‘‘translation.’’ Discourse refers to the vocabulary and a related set of concepts for communicating within a given field. 152). This framed films as art within the established ideology of art as a form of communication between an artist and an audience. ‘‘blank verse’’ is part of the discourse of poetry more specifically. 1982. film critics began to more intensively employ a vocabulary and techniques – a discourse – that were common within other high art worlds. The two activities. Corse and Westervelt (2002. Thus. For any given cultural production.12 It values art for its characteristics of personal expression. gallery owners. 131).11 An example of an ideology of art is the Romantic ideology of art. in the sense of the field of cultural production in general. An aesthetician can engage in criticism. and frames employed to legitimate cultural productions as art? To see how these categories apply in practice we can look at the example of film. Baumann / Poetics 35 (2007) 47–65 59 classifications and specific instances of their application. It can be argued that this frame implicitly references a Romantic ideology of art. In addition. To translate Becker into the terminology of the social movements literature. 12 Romanticism is. even when performed by the same individual. while ‘‘metaphor’’ might be part of the discourse for art generally. thereby appealing to the Romantic ideology of art in order to justify why films should be legitimately considered art. Corse and Westervelt (2002) explain the canonization of a particular work of art—Kate Chopin’s novel The Awakening. and critics frame particular works of art by appealing to the theories and values of specific ideologies. film reviews also began to focus on the role of the director as the driving creative force in filmmaking. the institutional ideology of art explains art as a product of the relationship between a cultural product and its context. In contrast. 156) argue that ‘‘In order for the congruence between a cultural text and the social environment to be perceived. . The novel’s feminist themes were highlighted and explicated in a way that successfully resonated with scholars and audiences at that point in history. aestheticians create ideologies of art. which explains art as the product of a uniquely gifted creative individual. of course. This focusing on the role of the director was a framing activity. a critic can explain how that work should be understood according one of these or another ideology of art. ideologies. possesses a discourse of common terms and ideas for discussing art. At that time. Art is valued according to how well it innovates in response to its cultural environment. and vice versa. Ardery (1997) shows how US folk artists’ works were framed by curators.S. and financially disinterested. For example. and art critics as authentic art because the artists were untrained. The authors demonstrate that the key to the novel’s increasing legitimation over time was the application by literary scholars of ‘‘new interpretive strategies’’ to reevaluate the book. How then. are distinct. even if the labels of ‘‘frame’’ and ‘‘ideology’’ are not employed in the manner specified here. an interpretive strategy that constructs the text in those terms must be available. however. possess elements of discourse that are specific to that art world. The art world. are discourses. particularly in the period 1950–1979 (Corse and Westervelt. such as the art world for poetry. Significantly. wherein critics framed films as essentially the products of individuals. This act of framing in accordance with ideologies of art is invoked repeatedly in sociological studies of artistic legitimation.’’ By 11 Aestheticians and critics are not always distinct populations. p.

we can see the work of these critics as an act of framing wherein jazz was framed as a standard. consider Lopes’s (2002.14 While Frickel and Gross do not address art This particular aspect of my argument about the role of framing in achieving legitimacy finds support in recent work by Zelditch and Walker (2003) on the legitimacy of regimes. musical form. which they define as ‘‘collective efforts to pursue research programs or projects for thought in the face of resistance from others in the scientific or intellectual community. For art worlds. Jazz enthusiasts rested their claims for the quality of jazz on its complexity. The Awakening was reframed in the 1950–1979 period when the ideology of feminism gained currency. 206) adumbrates a general theory for explaining the emergence and success of intellectual/scientific movements (SIMs). and (2) I draw parallels between art worlds and social movements. As a final example. practitioners. generating propositions that rely on the concepts of resources. because Eyerman and Jamison argue that social movements are significant on account of the role they play in knowledge production – social movements and knowledge production are not merely similar but are one and the same – both in and out of science. Recent work by Frickel and Gross (2005. rather than anarchic or dangerous. and these frames were couched in elements of a new discourse that had been generated in order to communicate about that ideology. 233). Baumann / Poetics 35 (2007) 47–65 translating their terminology into the terminology of the social movements literature. and its variants in order to be understood. They borrow directly from social movement research to sketch their theory. their work offers a deeper and more coherent synthesis of these two disparate areas. preexisting principles of what can count as art must be shown to be applicable to the art in question. The general theory of artistic legitimation can be stated as follows: Discrete areas of cultural production attain legitimacy as art. that new ideas both in and out of science are the often unconscious results of new knowledge interests of social movements. Conclusion The major goal of this paper is to outline the main components of a theory of artistic legitimation. we can see how their article provides empirical support for a more general theory of how ideas work to legitimate culture.60 S. 13 . 59): ‘‘we want to argue that much if not all new knowledge emanates from the cognitive praxis of social movements. and framing. emotional vitality. the general.’’ In fact.’’ Their article places a heavy emphasis on scientific change. during periods of high cultural opportunity through mobilizing material or institutional resources and through the exercise of a discourse that frames the cultural production as legitimate art according to one or more preexisting ideologies. Again. 2003. and the need for serious learning of jazz’s history. I suggest that this framework for explaining the legitimation of ideas in social movements and in art might also be applicable more broadly. borrowing the language and perspectives developed by social movements scholars. pp. high or popular. p. To achieve this goal.13 4. p. traditions. though they also mean to make their theory applicable to other kinds of knowledge production. 14 The analysis of knowledge production according to the insights and concepts of social movements was carried out earlier by Eyerman and Jamison (1991. p. The main benefit for the sociology of art is a theoretical advancement beyond the current state of tenuously linked cased studies of artistic legitimation toward an understanding of a process that is common across art worlds. opportunities. They identify ‘‘consonance’’ as a necessary condition of legitimacy by which they mean that ‘‘a claim to legitimacy applies general principles to a particular case’’ (Zelditch and Walker. This framing called upon preexisting ideas and values about the nature of legitimate art. I employ two analytical tools: (1) I synthesize and abstract from a large number of studies of artistic legitimation. 177–178) argument that one component of the rise of a jazz art world was the establishment of jazz criticism which evaluated jazz in a manner that mirrored the criticism of legitimate music.

be reconciled with this general theory of legitimation? When she claims that Derrida’s work was ‘‘reframed’’ (Lamont. In this way. conditions. By putting the concept of consensus at the forefront of understanding success.. how can an outsider accept the movement’s ideas as valid without joining the movement? In contrast. scientific. 1988. I provide a way of understanding social movement or art world outcomes as continuous rather than dichotomous. Hannan et al. Framing is made convincing by invoking the ideas and values in ideologies which already have currency. creates a narrative that represents the movement to insiders and outsiders.g. Despite the parallels.’’ If framing is primarily about identity.’’ This false dichotomy is not sufficiently precise to describe the outcomes of interest. I argue that framing is primarily relevant to the success of social movements and art worlds because it is the activity that instructs targeted audience members about how to correctly perceive and interpret specific issues. social. and objects. 15 . p. 2000. they explain ‘‘only two main outcomes—success or failure. Baumann / Poetics 35 (2007) 47–65 61 worlds. does the concept of legitimation developed within the social-psychological literature. 227) acknowledge. for example. Future research should explore the similarities and contradictions of legitimation processes in art and organizations.. it is clear that there are important parallels between an ‘‘intellectual movement’’ and an art world. linked as it is to justification and consensus. recruitment should not be confused with ‘‘success. To be sure.’’ I incorporate from the social psychological literature a conception of legitimation as a social process involving justification and consensus. women have the legal right to vote. p. p. Future research should test the applicability of the legitimation framework described here to areas outside of art and protest. framing of this sort occurs and is part of the process of mobilizing support for a movement. most notably in the relevance of framing. which is to say that their core ideas might be highly legitimated (e. By specifying the link between justification and legitimation. or intellectual.’’ Framing. and who would disagree this idea?). Regarding ‘‘success. I also provide an alternative way of understanding the role of framing. In particular. deserve a central place in the analysis of how new ideas become dominant or accepted? Can Lamont’s (1988) analysis of the success of Jacques Derrida in the US. 1983. Frickel and Gross (2005. Each involves collective action through a network of actors who champion a counterhegemonic idea. 1995. As Frickel and Gross (2005. Ruef and Scott. or somewhat legitimated (same sex unions have limited legal recognition and some public opinion support) or lack legitimation (the North America Man/Boy Love Association has few supporters among the public and no legal victories). 178) for comparisons across symbol-producing realms in order to understand better the This article does not attempt to incorporate the large literature on legitimation within the sociology of organizations. framing justifies the movement’s or art world’s ideas as legitimate by building consensus. However. p. Human and Provan. 1998). can we see here the same kind of reframing identified by Oliver and Johnston (2000) in social movements?15 The extension of this legitimation framework would help to answer a call by Peterson (1994. I depart from Frickel and Gross most importantly in my understanding of how to conceive of ‘‘success’’ and in how to explain the importance of the central social movements concepts. 615) for an American audience. This research typically investigates the causes and consequences of the legitimacy of organizational forms or industry niches (DiMaggio and Powell. events. Social movements can vary greatly in their success. one that offers an attractive enough element of identity to gain support. and I argue that social movement success and art world success are kindred legitimation processes.S. they argue. 223) argue that framing is relevant primarily as a way to explain how a movement’s ideas resonate with participants’ ‘‘intellectual self-concepts.

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African legacies. and the media. Cherbo. American Realities: art and artists on the edge. Shyon Baumann is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Toronto. pp. culture. His current projects include a study of gourmet food journalism and a study of race and gender in advertising. NY. Vera L. Cambridge University Press. His book on the growth of an art world for Hollywood films is forthcoming from Princeton University Press.. Baumann / Poetics 35 (2007) 47–65 65 Zolberg. New York. Joni Maya (Eds. 53–70.). In: Zolberg.. Outsider Art: Contesting Boundaries in Contemporary Culture. His research interests are in the sociology of arts.S. 1997. Vera L. .

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