[A potential problem at points-leans toward emic descriptions of arts, very inside view that leads him to statements that "anyone can see such and such." Helps that he understands the art worlds so well, but may make his analysis blind to things that he'd see without going so thoroughly native.]
Ch. 1. Art Worlds and Collective Activity.
All artistic work, like all human activities, depends on the joint activity of a number of people. Lists what needs to get done to produce an artwork: an idea, a manufacturing/distributing network, time, money, "support" apparatus, an audience, critics, training, and civil order. Art world has a division of labor. Artist believed to be gifted, at least in W. society (Baxandall on the shift to this perspective). Are core and peripheral activities in any art world. Artist always at the core. Sometimes specialized groups take over a core task, e.g., orchestral musicians. Sometimes artists want to make art that challenges the existing structure, may not be producible, exhibitable.
People who cooperate on art rely on conventions-"earlier agreements now become customary (29)." Give the artist a limited number of ways to do things, make an artist's decisionmaking process easier (if there's a conventional way to draw, just need to decide what to draw). But conventions seldom are rigid, unchanging.
Artworld has no strict boundaries-the peripheral support network stretches toward infinity. Art world spends lots of time deciding what is/isn't art, or fighting about it [Bourdieu clearer on this-on how people are fighting for the limited resources of the art world]. Claims that there needs to be sufficient social and political freedom to make art [this is a dubious claim-perhaps don't have full-blown artworlds, but even in times of great turmoil, people are making art].
Ch. 2. Conventions.
Verbal art forms (comedy, plays) utilize conventions known to everybody, allow everybody to participate. In general, knowledge of conventions of an art world define its outer borders. Some knowledge is too widely known to be thought useful for any art (e.g., vulgarity [really?]). Some conventions arise within the art world, only known to those on the inside; distinguishes the casual audience member from the regular patron. Students of the arts overlap with the regular audience members. Inner circles will take risks on seeing works that outer circles won't; they're the taste-makers-reference to Katz and Lazarsfeld's theory that there are certain well-placed opinion makers in social networks.
Lewis on convention-How do people manage to coordinate their activities. Easiest would be to discuss it beforehand, but more often we just do the "natural thing"-this is based on referring to solutions that have worked in the past that are well-known to the participants. Easiest to just do what everybody expects will get done. This reproduces itself. When a convention exists without dispute (or relatively un-disputed) it may get embodies in physical tools or materials. Even those who don't want to be conventional must know the conventions, speak of their unconventional work in the language of the conventional. Muscle memory can develop (Sudnow on piano). Artists learn conventions as professional culture, in their training and everyday interactions. Conventions are continuing adjustments of parties to the changing conditions of practice, conventions change. Schools aren't good at keeping current; you need to be out in the world doing the activity [must vary by art world]. Worlds vary in how much cooperation takes place there, how many conventions they need. Conventional language allows speedy solutions to problems-every artworld has its jargon (actors-"blocking, beat").
Splinter groups can have even more specialized conventions, artists develop conventions within their personal oeuvres in how they manipulate materials, what materials they use.
Ch. 3. Mobilizing Resources.
Making art requires resources; to some extent the distribution/availability of resources determines what art gets made. Resources include materials, but also talent pools of support personnel. Generally an oversupply of people for the more "artistic" jobs (e.g., actors, playwrights), undersupply of people in jobs with less charisma attached. The people for these jobs must be trained in conventions, be more or less interchangeable; at some level they must teach themselves-develop the memories needed to enact conventions; but there are also schools. Support personnel are near-sighted, worry about doing their one job on a project very well, conventionally; have craft pride and a desire to get more/better jobs. May be tied to an organization (e.g., symphony), or free-lance. Free-lancers need connections/network, in addition to the abilities all support personnel require [e.g., jobbing musicians]. Employer needs to use conventional technical language to get the most out of support personnel.
Ch. 4. Distributing Art Works.
Artists need a way to get their art to a public and to make money to support themselves. A developed artworld has a system of distribution tying it to the larger economy. Often involves specialized intermediaries. To some extent, the distribution system limits what is created because artists may constrain what they create to things that they can sell, but systems can accommodate some change, artists may go outside the system, and multiple distribution systems may exist within the same art world simultaneously. Distribution has a strong effect on reputations.
In some worlds, artist can support self on proceeds of art, but some must support themselves with day jobs that may or may not be connected to their art skill.
Patronage is one mode of distribution. Government may be a patron, usually support mainstream artists. Artist with a patron need only please that patron. In performing arts, a board/group may get together as patrons-don't receive a concrete work, but they get to have their name in a program.
Public sale involves market forces, getting people to buy what they like, having distributors (with art that they can distribute); though some artists find alternate channels. Varies from a small gallery that only distributes one artist's works, to the institutions of the culture industry-film, paperbacks, etc. Distributors may work to educate the public, shape their taste, get them to invest "wisely," based to some extent on musings of critic, aesthetes. Dealers need collectors. Gallery-dealer system is tied to museums. In performing arts, have impresarios that put up money for a show, need to sell tickets in advance. Culture industry deals with a public whose taste they can't really know-to some extent is hit or miss; artists gain little direction from this public. Will take ideas from a great variety of artists. Yields more or less standardized objects.
Ch. 5. Aesthetics, Aestheticians, and Critics.
Aestheticians construct systems by which to judge art, are to some extent opinion leaders. Art world may have critics/aesthetes who are important players. Judge what qualifies as "art." Aesthetics tie into conventions-provide a basis on which people can judge whether work is successful, makes regular patterns of cooperation possible. Not to say that styles aren't competing in any artworld for attention, display, etc.-the resources of the art world (again, Bourdieu good on this). Art world tends towards conservatism; innovators must argue strenuously for their new practices. Has a moralistic tone. Aesthetic needs to be kept up to date with what goes on in the art world, even as artists are more or less responding to the existing aesthetic.
Sociology (Gans, e.g.) can attempt to formulate an aesthetics; Becker doesn't. Any aesthetics formulated from outside the confines of the art world unlikely to have much impact. Is something like a sociological aesthetics contained in "institutional theory of aesthetics." Basically, the artworld determines its aesthetics, and some parties are more influential, due to their position, than others. Only constraint on what gets defined as art is what exists in prior consensus as art.
Ch. 6. Art and the State.
Art as property. Art as nuisance. State as supporter or censor of art.
Ch. 7. Editing.
the Art work is the work of the entire art world-the form it takes is the sum of the choices the artist and all those involved with the piece have made up to that point [this begins to resemble Sawyer's combinatorics]. The final work arises out of a larger [theoretically infinite-though probably limited culturally to some extent] set of possibilities.
Art worlds have terms-like "swing"-of aesthetic judgments that practitioners cannot precisely define, but are intelligible to the participants. The choices of artists and others are based on these nebulous criteria. The artist responds to an idea as he anticipates how others might respond (Mead, taking the role of the other). Often a work is done when it must be done-when time constrains the artist to stop working on it. Again, much of what the artist ends up doing is conventional. But at some level, to be creative, must consciously violate internalized standards-sometime have to ignore the looking glass self. Other participants can constrain/make choices that alter the art work, e.g., a distributor's decision to stop carrying a particular paint; similarly the distributors of the finished product decide what will go to market.
Mentions problem of reception-how the work is seen could potentially vary for every person, every time they view it, depending on their stance (but practically, this is limited, constrained by the community). Works can die when no one experiences them any longer.
Ch. 8. Integrated Professionals, Mavericks, Folk Artists, and Na´ve
Art world creates boundaries of what is acceptable art; some artists fall inside those boundaries, some outside. Often those on the outside are allowed inside after a while. Integrated professionals work within a shared tradition of problems and solutions. A relatively large number of people are admitted to the art world, not just the very best, as you never know who might turn out to be a really important artist.
Are also mavericks-those who've been on the inside, but found it too constraining. Propose innovations that are beyond what the artworld can accept, other artworld participants don't cooperate. So they strike out on their own and pursue their innovations, may succeed by circumventing the need for art institutions. In fact, they follow most of the conventions of the art world, and at a later point in time it's not too hard to integrate their work if some come to see it as worthy. Chas. Ives.
Folk art as work done totally outside the professional art world, by ordinary people in their daily lives, and they may not even see any artistic value in it-though outsiders can sometimes see that value. They do the art because it's part of the stock of things people in their community ordinarily do. Learn it within the community within scope of other activities. Allow room for variation/choice, play of skill & taste. Quilting. [He says the artistic activities of everyday life more common to women's work-where is he drawing the lines? How do we systematically say what is just work, and what is folk art? Must it be outside the utilitarian?]
Final type outlined is the na´ve artist (primitive, grass-roots, "outsider"), exemplified by Granma Moses. No connection with any art world, no or little training in the medium, don't have the aesthetic terms of the art world. Not aiming to do it as professionals-reasons are personal, sometimes unintelligible. May be thought insane. May use the skills of everyday life and turn them towards artistic pursuits (Watts towers). Nonstandard materials. But members of art worlds sometimes become interested in their work, and it is incorporated into the art world apparatus.
Through these groups who lie outside the core of the art world, can see how art worlds provide material support, response to works, connections to tradition that otherwise can be hard to come by.
Ch. 9. Arts and Crafts.
Artworld generally insists that there's a level of creativity beyond the technical craft skills of the artist. Supporting personnel may be craftsmen-Same activities may hold different titles at different times. Art worlds often have sequences where an activity goes from being defined as art to craft or vice versa [an exercise in historical semantics?]. Craft generally focuses on utility of objects created. Craft implies an aesthetic, standards on which to evaluate products. Craftworker does his work for someone else. Function is an important standard of judging craft products. May have virtuoso skill. Beauty and additional possible criterion. Can have "artist-craftsmen" who are more concerned about the beauty than the average craftsman, some affinity to high arts institutions.
Members of an established artworld may invade a craft, when they look for new media and glom onto something like pottery to express themselves. Use new aggressively non-utilitarian standards, aim to uniqueness instead of consistency.
Art can become craft, as art works become more organized, constrained, ritualized. Then it moves into academic art (concerned with how things are done, virtuosity), or commercial art. Can go back again, with a new generation trying to break out of the confines of craft [could see this in Bourdieu's terms as trying to make a grab for capital].
Ch. 10. Change in Art Worlds.
Changes in art consist in changes in [art] worlds. Art worlds in constant change-sometimes faster/slower. An innovation will not take root unless there's a concomitant organizational development-capturing the existing support networks or creating new ones. May have slow drift, or innovations that inconvenience people, require new skills, etc. Revolutions attack the ideological and organizational bases of the art world. Change the conventions. Because conventions imply aesthetics, these changes are also attacks on aesthetics. And ultimately an attack on the existing system of stratification [again, Bourdieu explicates this as access/possession of capital]. Revolutions don't change everything. Succeed when they mobilize some/all members of the art world to cooperate with the revolutionaries. Art worlds are born (people come together to cooperate on projects using new conventions) and they die (when nobody cooperates using those conventions any longer). But most innovations don't make a whole new art world. Art world may arise with development of an artistic innovation, but also of a new audience [long look at stereographs, funny theory of simultaneous evolution]. Technical innovation can also yield change (phonograph record in jazz).
Innovators construct histories which tie them to already accepted arts, suppress less desirable ancestors.
Growth eventually levels-maximum resources being used or audiences being entertained: not everybody is going to bother to learn the conventions of the art world in order to appreciated it. World declines when participants move on or new recruits can't be found. Decline seldom leads to out and out death.
Ch. 11. Reputation.
Reputation important to an art world, the world has an interest in what individuals have done, what they can do. Discussion of reputation and important process in the art world. The world singles some people out from the mass of more or less interchangeable people as more worthy, reward worth with esteem [what B. would call the capital specific to the field of art] and material gain. Art world treats the works of esteem different from other works.
This is a historically/culturally specific process-in West, post-Renaissance, individual artist becomes important.
Works, schools, genres, and even media have reputations. The reputations develop through a process in the art world of consensus building. Changes over time. Reputation dependent on an art world to talk about such things, have an aesthetics, have a distribution system that recognizes reputations, have audiences that care.
Lasting-whether or not a work is forgotten-is a function of reputation. Though sometimes an art is "historically important", and sometimes may lose its definition of being art over time.
What Becker has said about art is something that can be said about social processes in general: art world is a relatively specific kind of social organization or social structure.