By Janet Wolff
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Additional resources for Aesthetics and the Sociology of Art
20), exposing the genesis and ideological operation of traditional aesthetics does not in itself invalidate it. Indeed, if there is good reason to insist on the specificity of the aesthetic, it is unlikely that the popular aesthetic, which reduces or relates art to extrinsic 38 Aesthetics and the Sociology of Art factors, can account for it. Bourdieu would no doubt reply that in that case the search for the specificity of the aesthetic is itself simply the reinforcement of the class-based cultural distinction.
For those in the dominated groups of society, excluded from the operation of aesthetic distanciation, Sociology versus Aesthetics 37 however perfectly it performs its representative function, the work is only seen as fully justified if the thing represented is worthy of being represented, if the representative function is subordinated to a higher function, such as that of capturing and exalting a reality that is worthy of being made eternal. (Bourdieu, 1980, p. 246) Bourdieu gives examples of assessments of photographs, which he maintains are always based on extra-representational criteria: Thus the photograph of a dead soldier provokes judgments which, whether positive or negative, are always responses to the reality of the thing represented or to the functions the representation could serve, the horror of war or the denunciation of the horrors of war which the photograph is supposed to produce simply by showing that horror.
122), although there remained the danger that, as a result of the separation of the aesthetic, people could continue to separate their experience in art from their experience in the real world. Later, Marcuse was (briefly) to identify a real oppositional culture in the art and life-style of the student movement (Marcuse, 1969b). Nowhere in any of these works is a non-idealist theory of aesthetic experience elaborated. To return to Schiller is even to ignore the historicist, Hegelian critique of the aesthetic categories, which Lukacs himself adopted before his conversion to Marxism; for Marcuse, the aesthetic remains a universal, human category.
Aesthetics and the Sociology of Art by Janet Wolff