Societies in Crisis and Search of Meaning
4th International Congress of Clinical Sociology and Clinical Social Psychology

Department of Media and Communication (University of Athens)
Laboratoire de Changement Social
Université de Paris VII - Tolbiac
AISLF (Comité 19)
ISA (RC 46)
The Greek Society of Clinical Social Research
The Greek Psychological Society
Athens-Spetses, May 28 - June 1, 2003



The paper discusses the stages in the development of the systems for dissemination of artistic goods giving emphasis to the emergence of the global multimedia conglomerates. It analyses the intrinsic antinomies and the complexity of the social context in which the reception of artistic goods occurs - seen both as an interpretive process and a form of social practice. The analysis focuses on the structural changes of the meaning and the functions of the arts in a mediated environment. It traces the communication divide both in the infrastructures and the access, and sketches the current cultural asymmetries. The paper indicates the significance of the communication divide for the arts and argues that it has a decisive impact on the displacement of the meaning and the functions of the arts on a global level. The analysis of the cultural crisis focuses on the coexistence of risks and opportunities and stresses the importance of the cultural policy and of the artistic and aesthetic education policy in general under these circumstances. Finally, the paper underlines the fact that under the current situation the meaning of the social responsibility - of the political institutions and the mass media alike - is also changing.

A basic methodological assumption of this paper is that the meaning - particularly in the case of the artistic communication - cannot be lost. It can only be displaced, contrasting the romantic views expressed often in the public discourse about the arts.