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A critical introduction to:
"Art in the Age of Mass Media" (Greek edition) by John Walker, pp. 11-27

Translation: H. Papavassiliou, Peny Fylaktaki
Editor: Alexandros Baltzis
Thessaloniki: University Studio Press, 2010
ISBN: 978-960-12-1928-8

 

Abstract

This introduction outlines the main features of Walker's approach and analysis of the complex interactions between the visual arts and the mass communication phenomena. Although during the '70s and the '80s several researchers focused on this field of research, it remains hardly investigated. The introduction explores Walker's analysis in the context of the development of various approaches to the visual arts emphasizing its sociological aspects that are evident in this work. Finally, it underlines the significance of Walker's approach and the main directions for future research in the sociology of the arts. The paper argues that the scope of the research and the range of the issues not only have not been exhausted since Walker's book was published, but they become ever wider due to the new developments in mass communication by the beginning of the 21st century that have a significant impact on the visual arts.

 

Alexandros Baltzis, Andreas Veglis

Article in the peer-reviewed journal:
Zitimata Epikinonias (Communication Issues), issue 8/2008, pp. 121-141
Athens: University Research Institute of Applied Communication - Faculty of Communication & Media Studies, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
Kastaniotis Publisher
ISSN 1790-0824

 

Abstract

This article analyses seventeen cases of empirical research on interactivity in websites, as well as several measurement models, the theoretical background of the construct and its importance in the new context for the production, distribution and reception of symbolic forms. Focusing on musicians' personal websites, a model for measuring and evaluating interactivity is introduced, thus filling a gap in the web studies. The suggested model may be used to test the hypotheses that the internet might lead to decentralization of the communication, to reverse markets and to disintermediation, i.e. to the emancipation and enhancement of the communication through various forms of art. It might also be used in web design, for evaluating websites, and as a methodological basis to develop research in fields other than the interaction between musicians and their audiences.

 

In The Impact of Internet on the Mass Media in Europe, pp. 251-263
Editor: Nikos Leandros
Suffolk, UK: Abramis, 2006

 

Abstract

This chapter discusses from a sociological perspective several of the issues raised by the proliferation of the peer-to-peer networks and their impact on the artistic communication. Based upon an account of previous conflicts generated by the response of the recording industry to new channels and media for the dissemination of music, it outlines the industry's permanent strategic goal.

In this context this chapter argues that the peer-to-peer networks signify a new phase in the pursuit of the industry's strategic goal. This phase is marked by the contradiction between the new context and the established corporate policy.

The paper gives special emphasis to the cultural and political consequences and ramifications of this contradiction, as well as to the paradoxes and contradictions generated by the inconsiderable pursuit to control the dissemination and the uses of cultural goods and finally the access to them. It underlines also that the outlined corporate strategy affect the artistic creativity, the everyday culture of the audiences, as well as the cultural field in general. As a final point, this chapter argues that the attitude of the (major) recording industry in the case of the P2P networks indicates that the corporate culture might prove culturally and politically one-sided and reckless, unless it is counterbalanced by other forces.

 

Alexandros Baltzis, Antonis Gardikiotis

Proceedings of the international conference:
Arts, Culture and Public Sphere. Expressive and Instrumental Values in Economic and Sociological Perspectives
FDA - Faculty of Design and Art - IUAV University, Venice
DADI - Department of Art and Industrial Design - IUAV University, Venice
The Sociology of Culture RN of the ESA - European Sociological Association
The Sociology of the Arts RN of the ESA - European Sociological Association
Venice, November 4-8, 2008
In CD format

 

Abstract

Objective: An empirical research is presented that focuses on music acquisition patterns among students in a major urban centre (Thessaloniki, Greece). Main objective of this study is to test whether there is any relation between the use of various music distribution channels on the one hand, and music preferences, social values, and demographic factors, on the other.

Methods: 456 students from the three institutes for higher education in the city were asked to indicate the frequency of use of various music distribution channels. Respondents were also asked to indicate their preferences for 24 musical genres and the importance of 24 values in their personal lives. Standard demographic data were also collected (gender, education and occupations of parents, geographical origin, annual family income) and a scale of socioeconomic status was constructed. The ratio of the use of each channel to the total use of all music distribution channels by each respondent was then calculated to obtain the music acquisition patterns. In addition, channels were grouped in formal and informal as well as in free and pay channels.

To explore the relation between the patterns of distribution channel use on the one hand, and the education of parents, the geographical origin, the socioeconomic status and the annual family income, on the other, one-way analyses of variance were conducted. Independent-samples T-tests were also employed to detect differences between males and females on the patterns of music acquisition. Finally, hierarchical multiple regression analyses were carried out to explore whether music preferences and social values may predict the patterns of music acquisition.

Findings: Music preferences, gender, and cultural background, are better predictors for the patterns of music acquisition compared to social values, geographical origin, family income and socioeconomic status. Findings contradict the rhetoric of the (major) recording industry that employs a simplistic representation of the users of informal and free distribution channels, ascribing exclusively negative instrumental values to them.

The literature review revealed that the major paradigms used in the sociology of music and in sociology of the arts to interpret patterns of cultural consumption (homology theory, omnivorousness hypothesis, the scenes perspective) do not get into the details and particularities of the ways in which the various forms of cultural capital are objectified. A theoretically significant outcome of this research is the indication that in the case of music - unlike preferences - the acquisition patterns do not correlate with the lifestyles of any particular strata. This finding - if confirmed by further research - might contribute to the improvement and refinement of the theory and to a better understanding of the functions of the arts in contemporary societies.

One conclusion is that further research needs to be done to understand better the ways in which music acquisition patterns are constructed and examine whether they constitute forms of symbolic resistance or conformity, disdain of the artistic activities or awareness of their speculative uses in the market. A better understanding of these patterns may shed some light to cultural practices in everyday life and finally to contribute to a more efficient and productive policy than repression.

The findings rather support the argument that perhaps it would be more fruitful and beneficial for the recording industry (and its audiences) to invest in serious research for alternative policies rather than in litigation of questionable efficiency in defense of an outdated policy that ignores the complexities of cultural consumption. This might improve its public image as well, as it is the only industry fighting its own consumers.

 

Alexandros Baltzis, Oliver Hahn, Henrik Hargitai

In The Impact of Internet on the Mass Media in Europe, pp. 65-76
Editor: Nikos Leandros
Suffolk, UK: Abramis, 2006

 

Abstract

The article presents a sample research on the radio station websites in the cases of Hungary, Greece, and the singular ARTEradio.com site. The website analysis took into account the textual information, the website layouts, the navigation schemes, the audio contents and the existence or absence of accessible archiving systems. The samples studied include commercial, public, and community radio stations, both with aired and Internet-only programs.

Based on this analysis - which is part of a project still in progress - the paper discusses the multifaceted impact that the Internet has and might have on the radio both as a medium and as a form of mass communication. In order to understand the functions of the radio station websites, the purposes for which they are produced and how they are used, the paper discusses their possible classification scheme. Several methodological questions are discussed in this context. The comparative analysis and the typology derive from and are based on the attempt to understand the extent to which the radio stations use the Internet:

  1. in an innovative way, i.e. the extent to which they consider it as a new medium and produce new types of content applying new forms, models and patterns of production;
  2. in terms of a way to reach new target audiences using already known and well tested patterns of content presentation.

The article describes the theoretical background, the methods and the models used for the analysis of the websites. In the case of Hungary, the sample included 36 radio websites, while in the Greek case it included 44 radio websites and it was representative in terms of the radio stations distribution in the 51 prefectures of the country (there are more than 1,000 radio stations in the country). The typology of the radio websites spotlights the main functions of the radio websites which are further clarified through the analysis.

The results from the Greek sample indicate that there is a dominant view about the internet as an additional medium to reach the audiences in known and well established ways rather than a new form of communication that might enrich the content produced and/or distributed by the radio stations.

However, several issues concerning the impact of the radio websites on the listening habits and the musical culture of the audiences in general, remain open for future research.