Interdepartmental programme:
"Arts & the Public Sphere"
Type: Core course
Curriculum: Historical,
Political & Hermeneutic
Inquiry of the Arts
Semester: B


The course deals with both the theoretical and research sociological analysis of the various forms of art. It focuses especially on the developments from the second half of the twentieth century onwards when the sociology of the arts grows into an autonomous and distinctive discipline.

Employing the form of the flipped classroom and through a series of workshops, this course encourages, and at the same time requires, the active participation of students.

Based on selected texts presenting sociological theories and empirical research on the arts and on in-depth analysis on specific issues that vary each semester, this course discusses the social roles of the artists and also of other social categories that comprise the art worlds. The social functions of the institutions related to the arts, as well as the practices employed by cultural industries and mediators, are also analyzed. In this context, the economic dimensions of the creation, production, distribution, and reception of works of art, as well as the working conditions of the artists, are taken into account and discussed.

Also, the course discusses the various audience cultures and the factors that may have some influence on arts audiences, their different lifestyles, and their various cultural needs. The course aims at encouraging the development of a critical approach to all sociologically relevant issues that concern the arts, by discussing and exercising in the preparation of scholarly essays (and possibly by conducting short empirical research).


Syllabus (indicative)

The following syllabus is only indicative. It may be modified each year.

  1. Introduction, an overview of the issues, basic trends in the sociology of the arts (week 1)
  2. Art institutions and their social functions (weeks 2-3)
  3. Working conditions and labor in the art industries (weeks 4-5)
  4. Living conditions of the artists (week 6)
  5. Art as an economic and business activity (weeks 7-8)
  6. The public of the arts – research methods and studies on cultural behavior (weeks 9-10)
  7. International relations and functions of the global multimedia conglomerates (Week 11)
  8. Social functions of cultural policy (week 12)
  9. Summary – discussion on essays and evaluation (week 13)



    Upon successful completion of the course, students are expected to be able to:
  • Understand the sociological type of approaching the various forms of art, as well as the basic features of the sociological research on the arts
  • Analyze some of the key issues and problems facing sociological research on the various arts
  • Identify the key features of the social categories and institutions involved in the production of culture in modern societies, as well as the main factors that have some influence on it
  • Understand critically the various views on the arts, the artists, the public and the related institutions


Readings / supportive material

Some texts are accessible through the campus net, while others are available either in the School library or in other Departamental libraries of the Aristotle University. Additional readings are suggested, depending on the essays.

Ahlkvist, J. A. (2001). Programming philosophies and the rationalization of music radio. Media, Culture & Society, 23(3), 339–358.

Becker, H. S. (1974). Art as collective action. American Sociological Review, 39(6), 767–776.

Bourdieu, P. (2002). Distinction: A social critique of the judgement of taste. Pataki Publications.

Bourdieu, P. (2006). The rules of art: Genesis and structure of the literary field. Pataki Publications.

Faulkner, R. R., & Anderson, A. B. (1987). Short-term projects and emergent careers: Evidence from Hollywood. American Journal of Sociology, 92(4), 879–909.

Gans, H. J . (1999). Popular culture and high culture: An analysis and evaluation of taste (2η έκδ.). Basic Books.

Hennion, A. (1989). An intermediary between production and consumption: The producer of popular music. Science, Technology, & Human Values, 14(4), 400–424.

Hesmondhalgh, D. (2013). The cultural industries (3η έκδ.). SAGE Publications.

Hirsch, P. M. (1972). Processing fads and fashions: An organization-set analysis of cultural industry systems. The American Journal of Sociology, 77(4), 639–659.

Jepperson, R. L., & Swidler, A. (1994). What properties of culture should we measure? Poetics, 22(4), 359–371.

Katz-Gerro, T. (2004). Cultural consumption research: Review of methodology, theory, and consequence. International Review of Sociology, 14(1), 11–29.

Lizardo, O., & Skiles, S. (2008). Cultural consumption in the fine and popular arts realms. Sociology Compass, 2(2), 485–502.

Menger, P.-M. (1999). Artistic labor markets and careers. Annual Review of Sociology, 25, 541–574.

Negus, K. (1998). Cultural production and the corporation: Musical genres and the strategic management of creativity in the US recording industry. Media, Culture & Society, 20(3), 359–379.

Negus, K. (2002). The work of cultural intermediaries and the enduring distance between production and consumption. Cultural Studies, 16(4), 501–515.

Peterson, R. A. (1992). Understanding audience segmentation: From elite and mass to omnivore and univore. Poetics, 21(4), 243–258.

Peterson, R. A., & Anand, N. (2004). The production of culture perspective. Annual Review of Sociology, 30, 311–334.

Shoemaker, P. J., & Reese, S. D. (2014). Mediating the message in the 21st century: A media sociology perspective. Routledge.

Toffler, A. (1992). The culture consumers: A study of art and affluence in America. Cactus.

Warde, A., Wright, D., & Gayo-Cal, M. (2007). Understanding cultural omnivorousness: Or, the myth of the cultural omnivore. Cultural Sociology, 1(2), 143–164.

Zolberg, V. L. (1990). Constructing a sociology of the arts. Cambridge University Press.


Course procedures / evaluation

The course is designed as a flipped classroom and includes a series of workshops aiming to encourage discussions upon the required readings. Apart from the analysis of the texts and the systematic approach to selected sociological theories about the arts, the artists, the public, and the relevant institutions, the discussions aim at operationalizing several concepts that might be used in empirical research. The course includes discussing and preparing a research proposal, as well as the analysis of questionnaires and interview guides from actual sociological research and surveys. Performance evaluation is based on:

  • The active participation in the discussions and in-class activities (35%)
  • A final essay (3.000-4.000 words) developing a research proposal relevant to the course, including specific research questions and hypotheses (65%)

Information on the next exam session and the final essay due date can be found on the announcements page (provided that the exam dates have been announced).