The Social Impact of the Arts
‘The real question for politicians, audiences and artists remains: why does art matter, even if it cannot repare its public subsidy; if it represents an investment on which there is no direct quantifiable return; if it cannot guarantee support from audiences; if it cannot demonstrate immediate social relevance; if it cannot even say in which direction it should be moving to deliver true innovation?’ (Tusa, 2007)
One of my favorite sociological subjects is about the way culture and the arts are moving in time and society. According to Lewis-Williams, arts can’t be understood outside it’s social context. Even so, an object, whether industrial or craft, can be moved by or in a societal dynamics to surpass the intention of the creator. Aesthetic preferences and patterns of cultural participation operate social distinctions amongst people. As sociologists like Bourdieux and Simmel propose, aesthetic, together with manners, style, fashion and behaviour all contribute to processes of social differentiation. Accordingly, art serves different social purposes.
The material products of culture – furniture and cultivated plants, works of art and machinery, tools and books –are products of our own desires and emotions, the result of ideas that utilise the available possibilities of objects. By cultivating objects, that is by increasing their value beyond the performance of their natural constitution, we cultivate ourselves. Nowadays, aesthetics has changed meaning from its modern restricted version, purely concerned with the fine arts, to become a very much postmodern phenomenon. Earlier, aesthetics was lurking in the museums. Now, aesthetics is omnipresent in all aspects of life and can be defined as living emotions, feelings and shared passions. In today’s postmodern society, everyone is inspired and nourished by the massive offer of art made available by reproduction and the media and therefore free in all choices of turning each day into a work of art.