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Poetics 35 (2007) 4765 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 reection 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: 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


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

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intellectually. This repositioning allows the productions to be redened; from merely entertainment, commerce, fad, or cultural experimentation or randomness to culture that is legitimately artistic, whether that be popular or high art. Although his work on legitimation concerns small-group interactions, Zelditch (2001) provides a useful set of concepts for specifying the components of legitimation as a process within the sociology of art. Legitimation occurs when the unaccepted is made accepted through consensus. This consensus will never be absolute, as there is never complete consensus within a society about anything. For this reason, consensus needs to be dened minimallyit is issuespecic, near-consensus counts as consensus, and it need only exist at the collective level and not necessarily at the individual level (Zelditch, 2001, p. 10). For the purposes of art, consensus can be measured at various levels within an art world (Becker, 1982). Crane (1976) provides a typology of reward systems that distinguishes between how innovations are evaluated in different kinds of art worlds, with attention to who functions as gatekeepers in different art worlds.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, 1976, pp. 721722). 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 external legitimacy, consensus must exist among the general public. For example, for sculpture to be considered art, there must be consensus among artistic consumers, broadly dened, that this is the case. For internal legitimacy, consensus must exist among the inner members of an art world. For example, for abstract sculpture to be considered a valid genre of sculpture, consensus must exist among sculptors and art scholars and critics that this is the case. Consensus is achieved through justication (Zelditch, 2001, p. 10). A justication is an argument made to explain how the unaccepted is in fact acceptable because it conforms to existing, valid norms, values, or rules. The justication, for example, for literature as art is so familiar that it is practically invisible. It is an expressive work, created by an artist the author , that can be studiously examined and analyzed, and in which audiences can nd beauty, enjoyment, and a message or philosophy. Literature ts the existing and accepted category of art. Legitimacy, of course, is not a dichotomous variable, but rather can be present in widely varying amounts and among various constituencies. The legitimacy of rap music when it was rst created was quite low, for example, especially among white, middle-class audiences. Raps legitimacy has steadily increased so that it now enjoys recognition as a legitimate popular art. This recognition reects a fairly wide, though by no means absolute, consensus that the justications for rap as art are valid. That is to say, the justications are found by various audiences to be convincing arguments for the case for rap as popular art. Should the art world for rap make claims that rap is a legitimate high art form, it remains to be seen how successful such claims would be. In contrast, opera is highly legitimated as a high art form. The art world for opera makes claims that opera is high art, and the justications for these claims are widely accepted. As Zelditch (2001, p. 10) notes, [l]egitimacy requires consensus only somewhere, not

2 Cranes article explains how reward systems are common across art, science and religion. Although we are interested especially in art worlds, further development of Cranes 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.


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

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example, sought wider acceptance of the idea that minorities should enjoy the same legal rights as the majority. The same characterization can be made of gay rights movements and the womens movement. Many environmental movements seek to legitimate ideas that overturn prevailing notions about the subservience of nature to social needs.4 In these and other social movements, one important goal is to legitimate make accepted an idea that was initially not widely accepted. This acceptance is key to the further change in the social structure, system of rewards, or political system (Olzak and Uhrig, 2001, pp. 694695) that social movements seek.5 Ambiguity exists concerning what constitutes social movement success (Andrews, 2001; Bernstein, 2003; Gamson, 1990; Giugni, 1998). What counts as adequate change? Consider, for example, how despite many obvious successes of the civil rights movement, there are lingering inequalities. There are various ways of measuring success for social movements. For the purposes of this paper, success is conceived as the attainment of legitimacy. This conception is supported by Gamsons (1990) category of acceptance as a social movement outcome, whereby targeted audiences come to regard the movements ideas and goals as legitimate. For a successful outcome, then, the central ideas championed by a movement must gain a common sense, taken-for-granted character (McLaughlin and Khawaja, 2000, p. 423) among a target public, either policy-makers or the public at large.6 In the terms of legitimation outlined above, there must be consensus that the ideas championed by the social movement are justied. Art world success can also be equated with the attainment of legitimacy. A cultural eld is structured around agents producing belief in the value of goods in question (van Rees and Dorleijn, 2001, p. 332). While artists themselves work to create art, there are many agents within cultural elds who assign value to cultural productions and also work to sustain the legitimacy of those assignments. Art worlds, in this sense, can be said to be doubly concerned with legitimacy. Not only do the claims about artistic status need to be justied, but the right to make claims, and the bases on which those claims are made, need to be justied as well. Ambiguity also exists concerning what constitutes art world success. This ambiguity derives in part from the fact that different art worlds have different goals and different measures of success. For some art worlds, particularly new art worlds that are experimental or radical, merely

4 Environmental movements are one example of what are termed new social movements (NSMs) in social movements a et al., 1994). NSMs are generally distinguished from other social movements because they are based on research (Laran ideology, identity, and values rather than on class-based politics (Bernstein, 2005). As a specic form of social movement, NSMs are particularly similar to art worlds through their focus on the importance of the acceptance of ideas. However, NSMs are also largely about identity politics, and it is beyond the scope of this paper to theorize about the role that identity politics plays in 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), future research should incorporate work on identity into studies of art world development and legitimation. 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. This description is often employed to dene other kinds of group membership as well. For art worlds, though, Beckers (1982) analysis extends the boundaries of art worlds to audience members who merely know the conventions of an art form. Such audience members are unlikely to consider themselves part of that art world. In this sense, art worlds differ from social movements. However, to the extent that the legitimation process is driven primarily by core, as opposed to peripheral, members of the art world, and these members would consider themselves part of that art world, there exists more similarity than difference between art worlds and social movements on this point. 6 In some social movements literature, especially that which bridges the sociological literature on organizations (McLaughlin and Khawaja, 2000; Minkoff, 1994; Olzak and Uhrig, 2001), legitimacy often refers to the acceptance of the tactics or organizational forms that social movements adopt. Although clearly related, perhaps even causally related, the legitimacy of tactics and organizational forms is analytically distinct from the legitimacy of social movement ideas or goals. It is the legitimation processes of ideas that are argued to be parallel to the legitimation processes in art worlds.


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producing anything at all might be considered success. However, most art worlds exist with an audience in mind, whether that be a restricted, elite audience, or a mass audience.7 Acceptance by an audience that the art worlds activities are legitimate culture, high or popular art, constitutes the main measure of an art worlds success.8 3. 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. 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. I achieve two goals simultaneously: (1) I bridge these two disparate areas of research to show how the sociology of art can benet from social movements research, 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. 3.1. Opportunity: exogenous factors facilitate success Sometimes labeled political opportunities and sometimes opportunity structures as well as several variants thereof, this perspective has developed in the social movements literature to refer chiey to characteristics of the political environment in which movements operate. Having been in use for several decades, the concept has achieved near canonical stature in the study of social movements (Almeida, 2003, p. 345). As it has been employed by researchers, the concept has been criticized for being overextended (Gamson and Meyer, 1996) as well as for being imprecisely or uselessly conceptualized (Goodwin and Jasper, 1999). Nevertheless, the concept endures in the literature, and it is the subject of both theoretical ne tuning and empirical testing. The core of the concept is that context matters. We can better understand how social movements emerge, evolve, and most importantly for the present discussion how they succeed if we understand what is going on in the wider society that inuences them. For example, Almeida and Stearns (1998) argue that the likelihood of success of local grassroots environmental movements in Japan was inuenced by the presence of a national anti-pollution movement. Once established, this national movement could lend nancial, strategic, and ideological assistance to local movements, thereby helping them to succeed. 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 specic to New Zealand. The state was more loosely nested within the Western security alliance, and there were no existing US bases that would have required removal. As such, the political costs for adoption of a ban in New Zealand were relatively low, helping the movement to succeed. Within the sociology of art, the analogous idea was labeled by DiMaggio (1992, p. 44) as an opportunity space, referring to the existence of competitors, commercial substitutes, or publics and patrons of new wealth. The core idea is that certain exogenous factors can affect the
The elite, restricted audience corresponds more closely to the internal legitimacy of an art world, and the mass audience corresponds to the external legitimacy of an art world, as discussed above. 8 Although this paper emphasizes work on the legitimation of innovations new productions in art worlds, it is worth noting that the process of artistic legitimation applies equally to the rediscovery of artistic works and art worlds. Just as social movements may be revolutionary or reactionary, artistic legitimation may involve the embrace of culturally innovative work or a positive reevaluation of formerly rejected or disputed art.

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likelihood that an art world will succeed in attaining legitimacy. Although not always labeled as such, various studies of art worlds have pointed to important elements of an opportunity space. Some of these elements are broad changes in the wider society. Peterson (1972, p. 147), for example, notes that the ideological interpretation of jazz in the cultural media has closely paralleled ofcial attitudes towards blacks in this country. That is to say that jazz, a cultural production that was strongly African American in its practitioners and audiences, was more readily elevated to artistic status after the reduction in discriminatory attitudes about blacks among the public and elites, a relationship documented by Lopes (2002) as well. 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 aristocracys monopoly on classical music concerts. 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. In this case, a new art world was prompted by economic change among the group who comprised the art world. In their studies of the establishment of cultural hierarchy in the United States, both DiMaggio (1982) and Levine (1988) cite class and ethnic conict during a time of rapid industrialization and urbanization as important to the timing of the elevation of the high arts. The need for elites to culturally segregate themselves created an opportunity for certain cultural productions to serve as high art mechanisms of distinction. 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 ction. Baumann (2001) argues that lms elevation to an art form in the US was facilitated by the drastic growth in the number of people with post-secondary education, which created a pool of potential patrons. Other elements of the opportunity space can be more specic to the art world in question. For example, in their study of the rise of Impressionism in France, 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. Also, 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. Both developments were signicant in making possible the rise of Impressionism. DiMaggio (1992) reasons that when movies became popular, they in effect diverted much of the working class audience for serious theater, helping to legitimate theater as art. In a similar vein, Baumann (2001) cites the advent of television as a lower status dramatic alternative to lm as a factor in lms artistic legitimation. The idea that exogenous factors are relevant in explaining legitimation processes is common in the study of social movements and art. However, the sociology of art can benet from recent advances in social movements research that clarify and rene the concept of an opportunity space. Meyer and Minkoff (2004) argue that analysts need to make a set of distinctions when examining the role of the political environment, including: (1) structural factors versus signaling factors that work at a symbolic or communicative level; (2) general factors within the political environment versus factors that are specic to the movement under study; (3) factors that inuence mobilization versus factors that inuence social movement success; and (4) factors that movement members are cognizant of versus those factors of which they are unaware. While the second of these distinctions has already been taken into account above, the rst, third, and fourth must be applied to art worlds to explain how different factors have different roles to play within legitimation processes. Regarding the difference between structural factors and symbolic factors, existing studies of artistic legitimation often group these kinds of factors


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together. By noting this distinction in the kinds of exogenous factors at play, research would better emphasize the two different causal mechanisms they imply. For example, 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 inuenced the availability and distribution of resources in ways that favored the growth of Impressionism. In contrast, 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. In that case, an exogenous factor is relevant because it created prestige and status for an artistic form, quite helpful for legitimation. Future research on artistic legitimation should be careful to maintain this distinction by specifying which types of exogenous variables are at work, structural or symbolic. Regarding the distinction between factors inuencing mobilization and factors inuencing legitimation, this difference should be noted in future research because it allows for a clearer, more nuanced, and more accurate depiction of the legitimation process. For example, the socioeconomic changes cited by DeNora the bourgeoisies threat to the economic supremacy of the aristocracy in accounting for the formation of an art world for serious classical music speaks in the rst instance to the formation or initiation of that art world. In contrast, the changes in attitudes towards race cited by Peterson and Lopes speak directly to the acceptance, not formation, of an art world for jazz. So why include environmental factors that inuence art world formation in this discussion? Since there can be no legitimation unless there has been a prior initiation, it makes sense to think of art world formation as an essential part of the legitimation process. What is needed is not to excise from studies of legitimation those exogenous factors that are signicant primarily for their inuence on art world formation. Instead, future research should be careful to specify at which point in the legitimation process environmental factors are operating. 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. Likewise, within the sociology of art, we should distinguish between these factors because they imply very different mechanisms within the legitimation process. Consider, for example, how the advent of television might have created an opportunity for lm (Baumann, 2001). Were lm world participants ` -vis television? Was televisions inuence a strategizing about how best to position lm vis-a ` -vis television? As a feature of function of how audiences subconsciously evaluated lms vis-a the opportunity space for lm, television could have functioned in both manners simultaneously. There is no need to dene one or the other outside the concept of an opportunity space. However, 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. The degree to which art world participants are acting strategically and with agency is an important dimension of the legitimation process. This issue is the topic of the next section. The usefulness of these distinctions is that they save the concept of an opportunity space from doing too much analytical work on its own. To be useful, 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. 3.2. Resources: endogenous factors facilitate success The core of this concept is the inverse of political opportunities. Here, endogenous factors matter. There is intuitive appeal to the idea that social movement success depends on the power drawn from accrued resources.

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What do these researchers have in mind when referring to resources? Resources can be tangible or intangible; they can take the form of money, labor, knowledge, experience, network connections and institutionalized relationships, prestige and status, physical equipment or assets, informal traditions, organizational forms, emotional energy, and leadership.9 The ability of a movement to mobilize resources is crucial to determining its path. To see how resources are central in studies of movement success, consider the heavy emphasis scholars place on social movement organizations (SMOs). The reason for this emphasis is the simple fact that movements most often occur through the efforts of SMOs. SMOs not only generate and direct movement resources, but they can also be conceived as resources in themselves. In this way, for example, organizations that advocate on behalf of the homeless are both resource-seeking they need money, ofce supplies, etc. to survive and a resource at the disposal of the movement to ameliorate the conditions for the homeless (Cress and Snow, 1996). Resources are also central to explanations of art world legitimation. The title of the relevant chapter in Beckers (1982) seminal work on art worlds, chapter 3, is Mobilizing Resources. 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. Mobilization is a necessary condition of success. To explain artistic legitimation, we need to know which resources are mobilized and to understand the particular benets brought by particular kinds of resources. Various kinds of resources are frequently involved in artistic legitimation. Some resources take a physical form, such as institutional settings and venues and equipment or supplies. Other resources do not take concrete form, such as organizational principles, labor, and prestige or status. Both kinds of resources contribute to legitimation, but the distinction echoes the division between structural and symbolic environmental factors. Physical resources help to accomplish the practical work involved in art worlds while non-physical resources help to accomplish the necessary symbolic work. Different kinds of art worlds rely to varying extents on different kinds of resources. Opera, for example, 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. The cultural eld of poetry, however, requires less in the way of physical, nancial, and personnel support. The lesson we learn from Bourdieu and Becker, however, is that although poetry requires few resources in its physical production, the symbolic production of its value is a larger enterprise altogether. The labor of publishers, critics, and scholars involved in the evaluation and teaching of poetry are valuable resources necessary for poetrys legitimation. The same is true of opera, in addition to its physical resources.Becauseallartiscollective action,the successfulcreationanddeploymentofvarioustypes of resources are required for any art world to endure and to attain recognition as art in the rst place. The resources inherent in art museums are perhaps the most commonly cited within the sociology of art. Museums assist in art worlds in the provision of both physical and non-physical resources. Their ability indeed their mission to collect, preserve, restore, display, and promote art gives them an enormous amount of control over the value, visibility, and survival of cultural

9 Cress and Snow (1996, p. 1090) cite legitimacy itself as a resource. This is of course true insofar as the attainment of legitimacy regarding initial claims can be used to win acceptance of later claims. Or legitimacy based on preexisting institutional or personal authority can also be capitalized on by a social movement to advance its goals. However, if legitimacy exists as a resource, it is nonetheless true that a movement is seeking to expand or to further that legitimacy by gaining acceptance of its further goals.


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

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might learn from or imitate one another.10 Because artists must demonstrate sufcient disinterestedness to maintain credibility, their strategic and tactical behavior is not always evident. Nevertheless, artists often are strategic. Moreover, supporting members of art worlds are not held to the same standard of disinterestedness. Future research on artistic legitimation should be sensitive to the extent to which art world building is indeed constituted by strategies and tactics, the existence of which are resources at the disposal of art world members. 3.3. Discourse, ideology, and frames: legitimation requires an explanation A third main explanatory factor in social movement success points to the role of ideas. Movements goals and tactics need to be framed (Snow et al., 1986) in order to be made comprehensible, valid, acceptable, and desirable. This means that they need to be explained, marketed, or packaged in a way that convinces or resonates with a target audience. 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. McAdam et al. (1996b, p. 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. While the role of framing in mobilization is interesting, it is the role of framing in helping to achieve legitimation for the goals of a social movement that is of interest here. Like political opportunity, the concept of framing has been criticized for being employed too liberally and without sufcient coherence. Through its various incantations, framing is invoked to represent far too many phenomena that scholars wish to label as cultural. Oliver and Johnston (2000) argue that framing is a valuable concept that should continue to be central in social movement research,butto beuseful itshouldbe employed inaway that respects pastwork onideology.Ideology, they explain, is a complex system of related ideas that combines an explanation of the world with normativeprescriptionsforbehavior.Thecontrastwithframingliesinthedifferencebetweencontent and process. Framing, as per Snows formulation cited above, is an activity that convinces audience members about how to derive a correct understanding or meaning. Ideology, on the other hand, contains those values and ideas to which framing appeals in order to be convincing. As Oliver and Johnston (2000) explain, the analytic utility of separating frames and ideologies can be seen in the case of abortion in the US. Various elements within the pro-choice and pro-life movements in the US framed the issue differently in ways that invoked different ideologies. The womens movement framed abortion as a womens issue, appealing to a feminist ideology that upheld womens autonomy and rights. Religious groups, however, framed abortion as a religious issue, appealing to a Christian ideology that upheld the value of the sanctity of all life. There are two different frames invoking elements of two different ideologies. Frames and ideologies are both necessary concepts. 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. Discourses, Ferree and Merrill (2000, p. 455) argue, are broad systems of communication that link concepts together in a web of relationships through an underlying logic, and they point to the example of medical
10 This point is recognized by DiMaggio (1992) regarding the organizational forms available to art worlds. He argues that theater, dance and opera in the US borrowed the preexisiting organizational form nonprot trusteeship invented for museums and orchestras.


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discourse as a way that doctors communicate about health through an underlying logic that centers on diseases and cures. Ferree and Merrill embrace Oliver and Johnstons conceptualization of ideology and frames, and envision the relationship between these concepts and discourse as an inverted pyramid. Because it is the least analytically coherent and most broad, discourses are at the top of the inverted pyramid, while ideologies are one level down. Ideologies are considerably more coherent than discourses because they are organized around systematic ideas and normative claims (Ferree and Merrill, 2000, p. 455). At the lowest level, then, is the concept of frame, which is a way of talking and thinking about things that links idea elements into packages (Ferree and Merrill, 2000, p. 456). In sum, discourses have a loose logic and provide the vocabulary and concepts needed for communication; ideologies have a coherent logic that provides an understanding of the world as well as norms and values; and frames are tight cognitive structures that direct thinking and interpretation about a concrete issue, condition, event, or object. Framing is the discursive process of applying frames. 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, and it is done by applying (and sometimes inventing) a frame, which invokes the reasoning or values of an ideology, through the tools made available in a discourse. Within the sociology of art, ideas are accorded a central role in the legitimation of culture. Compared to the social movements literature, however, there is far less agreement about how to label and understand the role of ideas. Molnar (2005, p. 130), for example, 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. In explaining the elevation of great composers and serious works of classical music in late 18th- and early 19th-century Vienna, DeNora (1991, p. 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. Baumann (2001, p. 405) argues that a legitimating ideology was developed within the art world for lm and disseminated through lm reviews, and that this ideology was a key factor in lms elevation to art in the US. In his examination of how some literary works become consecrated as masterpieces, van Rees (1983) assesses the fundamental roles of three different types of critical discourse. In explaining the elevation of theater, dance, and opera as legitimate art forms, DiMaggio (1992, p. 44) argues that these art worlds imitated the earlier high art worlds of art museums and symphonies, and that the justications developed by founders of the nations rst art museums and orchestras served as ready-made ideological resources that cultural entrepreneurs could employ across a range of other art forms. In other words, a clearly articulated ideology (DiMaggio, 1992, p. 22) played a role in these cases of artistic legitimation. The sociology of art can clearly benet from theoretical advances within the social movements literature on framing. Studies of art world legitimation have not settled on a common set of concepts for explaining how culture is legitimated ideationally. I argue that the distinctions between discourse, ideology, 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. Moreover, this set of concepts can be reconciled with Beckers pioneering work on the role of aestheticians and critics in art worlds. Becker (1982) persuasively argues that aestheticians (or philosophers of art) and critics play essential, but different, roles within art worlds. Aestheticians study the premises and arguments people use to justify classifying things and activities as beautiful, artistic, not art, good art, bad art, and so on. They construct systems with which to make and justify both the

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classications and specic instances of their application. Critics apply aesthetic systems to specic art works and arrive at judgments of their worth and explications of what gives them that worth (Becker, 1982, p. 131). To translate Becker into the terminology of the social movements literature, aestheticians create ideologies of art, and critics frame particular works of art by appealing to the theories and values of specic ideologies.11 An example of an ideology of art is the Romantic ideology of art, which explains art as the product of a uniquely gifted creative individual.12 It values art for its characteristics of personal expression. In contrast, the institutional ideology of art explains art as a product of the relationship between a cultural product and its context. Art is valued according to how well it innovates in response to its cultural environment. For any given cultural production, a critic can explain how that work should be understood according one of these or another ideology of art. 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 eld. The art world, in the sense of the eld of cultural production in general, possesses a discourse of common terms and ideas for discussing art. More narrowly dened art worlds, such as the art world for poetry, possess elements of discourse that are specic to that art world. Thus, while metaphor might be part of the discourse for art generally, blank verse is part of the discourse of poetry more specically. How then, are discourses, ideologies, and frames employed to legitimate cultural productions as art? To see how these categories apply in practice we can look at the example of lm. Baumann (2001) argues that US lm criticism changed in the 1960s. At that time, lm critics began to more intensively employ a vocabulary and techniques a discourse that were common within other high art worlds. Signicantly, lm reviews also began to focus on the role of the director as the driving creative force in lmmaking. This focusing on the role of the director was a framing activity, wherein critics framed lms as essentially the products of individuals, thereby appealing to the Romantic ideology of art in order to justify why lms should be legitimately considered art. In addition, critics began to interpret lms for their messages or meanings. This framed lms as art within the established ideology of art as a form of communication between an artist and an audience. This act of framing in accordance with ideologies of art is invoked repeatedly in sociological studies of artistic legitimation, even if the labels of frame and ideology are not employed in the manner specied here. For example, Ardery (1997) shows how US folk artists works were framed by curators, gallery owners, and art critics as authentic art because the artists were untrained, unsophisticated, and nancially disinterested. It can be argued that this frame implicitly references a Romantic ideology of art. Corse and Westervelt (2002) explain the canonization of a particular work of artKate Chopins novel The Awakening. The authors demonstrate that the key to the novels increasing legitimation over time was the application by literary scholars of new interpretive strategies to reevaluate the book, particularly in the period 19501979 (Corse and Westervelt, 2002, p. 152). The novels feminist themes were highlighted and explicated in a way that successfully resonated with scholars and audiences at that point in history. Corse and Westervelt (2002, p. 156) argue that In order for the congruence between a cultural text and the social environment to be perceived, an interpretive strategy that constructs the text in those terms must be available. By

11 Aestheticians and critics are not always distinct populations. An aesthetician can engage in criticism, and vice versa. The two activities, however, are distinct, even when performed by the same individual. 12 Romanticism is, of course, a larger ideology to which the Romantic ideology of art is linked.


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translating their terminology into the terminology of the social movements literature, we can see how their article provides empirical support for a more general theory of how ideas work to legitimate culture. The Awakening was reframed in the 19501979 period when the ideology of feminism gained currency, and these frames were couched in elements of a new discourse that had been generated in order to communicate about that ideology. As a nal example, consider Lopess (2002, pp. 177178) 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. Jazz enthusiasts rested their claims for the quality of jazz on its complexity, traditions, emotional vitality, and the need for serious learning of jazzs history, practitioners, and its variants in order to be understood. Again, we can see the work of these critics as an act of framing wherein jazz was framed as a standard, rather than anarchic or dangerous, musical form. This framing called upon preexisting ideas and values about the nature of legitimate art.13 4. Conclusion The major goal of this paper is to outline the main components of a theory of artistic legitimation. To achieve this goal, I employ two analytical tools: (1) I synthesize and abstract from a large number of studies of artistic legitimation, and (2) I draw parallels between art worlds and social movements, borrowing the language and perspectives developed by social movements scholars. The general theory of artistic legitimation can be stated as follows: Discrete areas of cultural production attain legitimacy as art, high or popular, 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. The main benet 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. I suggest that this framework for explaining the legitimation of ideas in social movements and in art might also be applicable more broadly. Recent work by Frickel and Gross (2005, p. 206) adumbrates a general theory for explaining the emergence and success of intellectual/scientic movements (SIMs), which they dene as collective efforts to pursue research programs or projects for thought in the face of resistance from others in the scientic or intellectual community. Their article places a heavy emphasis on scientic change, though they also mean to make their theory applicable to other kinds of knowledge production. They borrow directly from social movement research to sketch their theory, generating propositions that rely on the concepts of resources, opportunities, and framing.14 While Frickel and Gross do not address art
This particular aspect of my argument about the role of framing in achieving legitimacy nds support in recent work by Zelditch and Walker (2003) on the legitimacy of regimes. 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, 2003, p. 233). For art worlds, the general, preexisting principles of what can count as art must be shown to be applicable to the art in question. 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. 59): we want to argue that much if not all new knowledge emanates from the cognitive praxis of social movements, that new ideas both in and out of science are the often unconscious results of new knowledge interests of social movements. In fact, because Eyerman and Jamison argue that social movements are signicant 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, their work offers a deeper and more coherent synthesis of these two disparate areas.

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worlds, it is clear that there are important parallels between an intellectual movement and an art world. Each involves collective action through a network of actors who champion a counterhegemonic idea. Despite the parallels, 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, most notably in the relevance of framing. Regarding success, I incorporate from the social psychological literature a conception of legitimation as a social process involving justication and consensus, and I argue that social movement success and art world success are kindred legitimation processes. As Frickel and Gross (2005, p. 227) acknowledge, they explain only two main outcomessuccess or failure. This false dichotomy is not sufciently precise to describe the outcomes of interest. Social movements can vary greatly in their success, which is to say that their core ideas might be highly legitimated (e.g., women have the legal right to vote, and who would disagree this idea?), 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). By putting the concept of consensus at the forefront of understanding success, I provide a way of understanding social movement or art world outcomes as continuous rather than dichotomous. By specifying the link between justication and legitimation, I also provide an alternative way of understanding the role of framing. Frickel and Gross (2005, p. 223) argue that framing is relevant primarily as a way to explain how a movements ideas resonate with participants intellectual self-concepts. Framing, they argue, creates a narrative that represents the movement to insiders and outsiders, one that offers an attractive enough element of identity to gain support. To be sure, framing of this sort occurs and is part of the process of mobilizing support for a movement, social, scientic, or intellectual. However, recruitment should not be confused with success. If framing is primarily about identity, how can an outsider accept the movements ideas as valid without joining the movement? In contrast, 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 specic issues, conditions, events, and objects. Framing is made convincing by invoking the ideas and values in ideologies which already have currency. In this way, framing justies the movements or art worlds ideas as legitimate by building consensus. Future research should test the applicability of the legitimation framework described here to areas outside of art and protest. In particular, does the concept of legitimation developed within the social-psychological literature, linked as it is to justication and consensus, deserve a central place in the analysis of how new ideas become dominant or accepted? Can Lamonts (1988) analysis of the success of Jacques Derrida in the US, for example, be reconciled with this general theory of legitimation? When she claims that Derridas work was reframed (Lamont, 1988, p. 615) for an American audience, can we see here the same kind of reframing identied by Oliver and Johnston (2000) in social movements?15 The extension of this legitimation framework would help to answer a call by Peterson (1994, p. 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. This research typically investigates the causes and consequences of the legitimacy of organizational forms or industry niches (DiMaggio and Powell, 1983; Hannan et al., 1995; Human and Provan, 2000; Ruef and Scott, 1998). Future research should explore the similarities and contradictions of legitimation processes in art and organizations.



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processes of cultural production. In the present case, such comparison allows for analytical leverage on the question of how these realms function to achieve legitimacy, an important question for the study of not only art but other elds in which the advancement of new ideas is a central feature. Acknowledgements I am grateful to Ziad Munson for helpful comments and for pointing me to many useful references, as well as to the two anonymous reviewers for their constructive criticisms. References
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Zolberg, Vera L., 1997. African legacies, American Realities: art and artists on the edge. In: Zolberg, Vera L., Cherbo, Joni Maya (Eds.), Outsider Art: Contesting Boundaries in Contemporary Culture. Cambridge University Press, New York, NY, pp. 5370. Shyon Baumann is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Toronto. His research interests are in the sociology of arts, culture, and the media. His current projects include a study of gourmet food journalism and a study of race and gender in advertising. His book on the growth of an art world for Hollywood lms is forthcoming from Princeton University Press.