New Frontiers in Arts Sociology: Creativity, Support and Sustainability
International conference

European Sociological Association (ESA) - Research Network for the Sociology of the Arts (RN2)
Lüneburg and Hamburg, March 28 - April 1, 2007



The focal points of this paper are the displacement of meaning and the functions in the realm of the artistic perception in a market-driven society, and the consequent production of new types of meaning.

The paper explores the hypothesis that there is a correlation between the kind of the visual representations used in the print commercial advertisements and the symbolic value of the advertised consumer goods. After a short review of previous research in the cases of other countries, the paper presents the results from an exploratory research of the printed ads in Greek magazines. The research is both qualitative and quantitative. According to the working hypothesis, the higher the symbolic value of the advertised consumer good, the more frequent is the use of visual representations that derive from an established, commonly known and highly appreciated visual artistic canon. For the purposes of this research, we collected a random sample of print advertisements published in Greek magazines during 2002-2007 and traced the use of visual artworks.

The data collected during this exploratory research indicate that there are significant differences between Greece and other countries in the frequency of appearance and the use of visual artworks in printed ads. The differences concern the symbolic value and the status of the visual arts, the ways in which the ads create communication codes and the types of goods for which image and identity is created through the use of visual artworks in the Greek case.

Exploring the social functions of the visual arts in printed ads, the paper indicates the need for further research in this field taking into account its importance for a better understanding of the everyday culture and of the specific functions of the visual arts in the Greek case. This type of research may contribute to comprehend: the ways in which the visual arts are utilized by the economy and the media; the stronger convergence between different forms of communication in late capitalism and its consequences for the production of meaning and values; the emergence of new patterns of cultural consumption characterized by ambivalence; the ways in which the visual arts function as a source of creativity for the entrepreneurs; the decline of a previous highly pronounced divergence that has been dominant and the transformation of the ways in which people perceive the artworks.