Bourdieu, Rules of Art

The Conquest of Autonomy


This chapter describes the journy artists had to travel in an effort to gain autonomy.

We go though the history of art, and maily literature and painting in Europe in the second half of the 19th century discussing the “bourgeois” and the effect of industrialists and businessmen as well as aristocracy had on the arts.

The high society that holds the influence and power choses which form of art to promote and which not.

There is an in between rank in society during that time, that of those powerful enough to be taken seriously by the artists but not so powerful so as to pose a threat to the actually powerful ones… The salons choose who to include and promote and who to exclude and it is actually who they exclude that defines them and distinguishes them.

Power is also held by the directors of the papers since publication creates a certain reputation and opens doors.


Bohemia is the new way and the art of living is invented. Not all those seeking a post can be given one of the positions offered and so all those who have qualifications but no jobs turn to the arts. Bohemia defies classification, it shifts in time, absorbs more and more people and there is a point where two bohemias coexist: the proletaroid intellectuals and the penniless bourgeois.

A society of artists forms that favours transgressions and rewards artists who introduce it in there art and lifestyle. On the other hand, “Imagination, like courage, was singularly flattened, and the public was not disposed, any more than the powers that be, to permit independence of any kind”.


We have a whole section on Baudelaire as a lead figure in his time mostly because he made a difference by defying the whole established literary order.  He becomes a symbol, challenging mental structures and overturning the set scale of values.

A comparison between Flaubert and Baudelaire is made to point out that unlike Flaubert, Baudelaire makes a point of placing both his work and his entire way of life “under a banner of defiance and rupture”.  He sees being deprived as the road to freedom and inspiration.

However competition arises and all artists who until then where being compensated for their work in one way or the other, are now up against newcomers, there to contest authorities.

It becomes more and more clear that the context, the sociopolitical circumstances during the time a work of art is created reveal more about its value than the work in itself.

The artists that survived time did so BECAUSE of their contemporaries that did not, and because of the comparison between them.


I will stop here because I feel I am not contributing anything by my writing… These last two papers where a little too much for me, I would have to study them again and again and there is no time now for that… Alot has sunk in but in a level that I cannot put into words yet…


I feel that there is so much detail that I am losing the bigger picture…


Kind of these picures of my face… Can anyone tell what I look like through them?!?!?!?!?!


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