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For a sociology of committed professionals : “Art Worlds” in the United States and opposing the war in Iraq - V. Roussel

Violaine Roussel
Laboratoire Théories du politique (LabToP), département de science politique,
université Paris 8, 2, rue de la Liberté, 93526 Saint-Denis cedex, France

Available online 27 July 2010 on ScienceDirect

This article analyzes American artists’ opposition to the war in Iraq, emphasizing the way it was determined by their professional situations. Regardless of the networks and political organizations involved, or the ideological dimensions of the anti-war cause, individual professional identities and relationships persisted and influenced their public practices and positioning. In a first section, we compare different artistic subfields and labor configurations, to grasp what, in the participants’ own eyes, made the combination of artistic and militant identities - and, sometimes, the production of a form of “political art” - tenable. The second section concentrates on how political commitment emerged in fields of professional activity, how the functioning of artistic milieus today – that have become more autonomous, specialized and professional – tends to discourage “mixing registers”, i.e. combining aesthetic motives and political logics.

Keywords : Artists ; Political involvement ; Anti-war mobilization ; Professionalization ; Art worlds ; Differentiation ; United States

Article Outline

  • 1. A range of variation in the logics governing artists’ commitments
    • 1.1. Distinct degrees of artistic autonomy
    • 1.2. Mixing artistic and militant resources
    • 1.3. Politics in an art form
  • 2. The professional structuring of commitment
    • 2.1. Differentiation and politicising
    • 2.2. Separating activities and coping with being labeled “activist artists”
  • References

Sociologie du Travail
Volume 52, Supplement 1, August 2010, Pages e64-e82
Translation : Gabrielle Varro