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Arts, Culture and Public Sphere Expressive and Instrumental Values in Economic and Sociological Perspectives

Organized by the Faculty of Design and Art and the Department of Art and Industrial Design of the IUAV University of Venice
Venice, Italy, 4-8 November 2008




The FDA – Faculty of Design and Arts, together with DADI - Department of Arts and Industrial Design of the University IUAV in Venice and the EPOCA - Centre of Economics and Advanced Cultural Policy Research – IUAV University, Venice, in cooperation with the Research Network for the Sociology of Culture and the Research Network for the Sociology of the Arts of the ESA - European Sociological Association is organizing the conference "Arts, Culture and the Public Sphere: Expressive and Instrumental Values in Economic and Sociological Perspective".

The conference also represents the 5th ESA Sociology of the Arts Research Network mid-term conference and the 2nd ESA Sociology of Culture Research Network mid-term conference, and it will be the first opportunity to have three European networks meeting around a common theme in Venice from 4 to 8 November 2008.

Arts and culture can no longer be considered uncritically as vehicles merely related to a ‘civilizing mission’ or to ‘economic development’. In the beginning, Social Sciences and Economic Studies identified the social context of the realms of art and culture, measured their impact and evaluated their management. Later, processes of expanding democratization exposed these realms to the criticism of the public sphere. Consequentely, arts and culture became contended fields of social and economic contestation.
Beneth the increasing examination of these realms, rests the growing international and trans-national circulation of people, capital, and culture, different forces that have inspired individuals and groups to challenge well-established authorities, mentalities and semantic codes and socio-economic development models. These processes turned the artistic and cultural fields in a lively crossroads for trans-disciplinary research, spanning areas of inquiry once viewed as unrelated. Following the main theme of the conference, we will investigate how arts and culture became contest ed grounds involving multiple social and economic dimensions of contemporary societies.

The conference will be the first opportunity to have three European networks - the two Research Networks of the European Sociological Association, ‘Sociology of Arts’ and ‘Sociology of Culture’, and the network ‘Economics and Planning of Arts and Culture’ - meeting around a common theme. We therefore encourage strongly interdisciplinary papers, and we propose a focus on expressive and instrumental values with the aim of building a special platform for interdisciplinary exchange and debate, particularly between the economic perspective and the sociological one.

Conference topics

For organizational reasons, we are presenting the conference topics according to the perspectives of the three Networks. However, the conference will be aimed at cross-fertilizing research using mixed research fields in all the areas. Papers with a cross-national, comparative focus and papers by researchers earlier in their career are particularly welcome.

1. Sociology of Arts

The RN of Arts aims to provide the sociological context for understanding the multi-faceted and interwoven social aspects, which characterize the relationship between the artistic world and the public sphere.

Beyond this general statement, stands the will to encourage a theoretical and methodological debate, which can thrust and widen our knowledge on the dialectical ways trough which the artistic creativity and the public sphere constantly intersect.

Topics can include (but are not limited to):

Aesthetics and Sociology, Artists, Arts and Audiences, Arts and Cities, Arts and Community, Artistic Innovations, Arts and Gender, Arts and Globalization, Arts and Heritage, Arts and Minorities, Arts Management, Artistic Markets, Art Museums, Artistic Networks, Arts and Politics, Arts Support, Art Sustainability, Art Theory, Arts and Trauma, Art-War and Peace, Financing the Art World, Graffiti, Local Arts, Sociology of the Dance, Sociology of the Music, State Support for the Arts, Virtual Arts.

2. Sociology of Culture

How do cultures relate to the public sphere? To which extent is the shape of the public discourse affected by cultural codes? What are the cultural dimensions of public knowledge? Why and how does culture matter? In contemporary societies the public sphere is constantly shaped and reshaped by media discourses. The public discourses can no more be analyzed at the national levels only because globalization processes are at work. We are witnessing the emergence of multiple global public spheres, which are intersecting to each other, articulating both local and global issues. In this context the role of culture is highly increased. The visibility of cultural codes becomes global. They are used to express power, to mediate conflicts, to negotiate claims of citizenship, to construct minority identities, gender and ethnicity issues, and to inscribe the public knowledge of the past in the national and international arena. The aesthetic dimensions are becoming key issue to articulate power relations. Culture matters and it does it in many new ways.

We invite theoretical, methodological and empirical papers on a broad range of cultural expressions in the public sphere, in particular in the areas of:

Culture, Conflict and Power; Culture, Gender and Ethnicity; Cultural Heritage and National Identities; Public Memory and Cultural Trauma; Culture and Globalization; Culture and Media; Culture and Politics; Culture and Religion; Culture and Communities; Culture and Environment; Culture and Ethnography; Methodological Issues in Cultural Research. 

3. Economics and Planning in Arts and Culture

Many economically advanced countries have recently faced an intense process of transition from a development model based on the industrial economy to a post-industrial one, in which symbolic and identity features, and thus artistic and cultural elements, play an unprecedented role, thanks to their endorsed role in creating and/or regenerating the economic, social and environmental dimensions, and toward the definition of a shared, compelling vision of local social and economic development.
Given the previous premises, the key question is:
How do arts and culture relate to the public sphere within the social-economic development?
We invite theoretical, methodological and empirical papers and three sub-themes are suggested:

3.1 Sustainable development and culture

The topics are: Growth Models, Culture and Sustainability; Cultural Industries, Creative Industries and the Sustainable City; Arts, Culture and Sustainability; Cultural Policy and Sustainable Development Policy; Sustainability, Localization of Economic Activities and People.

3.2 Local development and culture

The topics are: Culture and Local Development Processes (at Urban and Regional levels); Regeneration of Urban Areas and Culture: Analysis, Policy and Evaluation; Agglomeration, Clusters / Districts and Culture; Region, Urban areas, Culture and Governance Models; City, Culture and Regional Marketing.

3.3 Culture and well-being

The topics are: Cultural Policy as Welfare Policy; Culture Bridging and Bounding Communities; Culture's Intrinsic or Extrinsic Factors for Individual Well-being; Arts, Culture and Capabilities; Cultural, Social and Human Capital.

Call for papers

You are invited to submit your abstract electronically, according to the guidelines. It requires to fill in the elettronic form available on line in the conference web site.

For organizational reasons we ask you to indicate the topic of one of the three Networks to which your paper refers to (e.g. RN Sociology of Arts, topic “Arts and Cities”), or make explicit if it is interdisciplinary (e.g. RN Sociology of Culture, topic “Culture and Politics”, & Network Economics and Planning in Arts and Culture, topic “Local development and cultural policies”).

Individuals are allowed to apply for one presentation only and may submit a maximum of two abstracts. They may be co-author of several papers but only once as first author.

The deadline for submission of abstract is 28th April 2008.

Abstracts have to be to a maximum length of 500 words, must be submitted in English and must include:

  • Research objective or questions

  • Research methodology and theoretical perspectives

  • Main findings or conclusion

The authors will be notified of the acceptance of their abstract by 15th June 2008.


The guidelines for authors applied to abstracts and full papers are available in the Submission of Abstract

Your cooperation in adhering to these guidelines is greatly appreciated. For any information about the paper please write to:
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Important Dates

Submission of abstracts: 28th April 2008

Notification on acceptance of abstract: 16th June 2008

Final date for early-bird registration: 15th July 2008

Final date for late registration and withdrawal: 15th September 2008

Final date for full paper submission (if to be published in the CD-ROM): 3rd October 2008 

Please note

Please bear in mind that for organizational reasons, you should submit your paper under one of the three networks: sociology of arts (1), sociology of culture (2), economics and planning in arts and culture (3), multi-disciplinary (4). You should clearly specify to which sub-topic(s) your paper belongs to if it is multi-disciplinary (e.g. economic and sociology of arts).


Università IUAV di Venezia, Dipartimento delle Arti e del Disegno industriale

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