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Notes towards a ‘social aesthetic’: guest editors' introduction to the special section

Olcese, Cristiana and Savage, Mike ORCID: 0000-0003-4563-9564 (2015) Notes towards a ‘social aesthetic’: guest editors' introduction to the special section. British Journal of Sociology, 66 (4). pp. 720-737. ISSN 0007-1315

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Identification Number: 10.1111/1468-4446.12159


There is an emerging ‘aesthetic turn’ within sociology which currently lacks clear focus. This paper reviews the different issues feeding into this interest and contributes to its development. Previous renderings of this relationship have set the aesthetic up against sociology, as an emphasis which ‘troubles’ conventional understandings of sociality and offers no ready way of reconciling the aesthetic with the social. Reflecting on the contributions of recent social theorists, from figures including Bourdieu, Born, Rancière, Deleuze, and Martin, we argue instead for the value of a social aesthetic which critiques instrumentalist and reductive understandings of the social itself. In explicating what form this might take, the latter parts of the paper take issue with classical modernist conceptions of the aesthetic which continue to dominate popular and sociological understandings of the aesthetic, and uses the motif of ‘walking’ to show how the aesthetic can be rendered in terms of ‘the mundane search’ and how this search spans everyday experience and cultural re-production. We offer a provisional definition of social aesthetics as the embedded and embodied process of meaning making which, by acknowledging the physical/corporeal boundaries and qualities of the inhabited world, also allows imagination to travel across other spaces and times. It is hoped that this approach can be a useful platform for further inquiry.

Item Type: Article
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Additional Information: © 2015 London School of Economics and Political Science
Divisions: Sociology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Sets: Departments > Sociology
Date Deposited: 03 Mar 2016 15:20
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 00:50

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