Of sound and flavour – Revisiting the notion of material for the cultural sociological analysis of art domains

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Abstract / Description of output

This article proposes a possible path for a materialist cultural sociology of art, focusing on the dynamics of art(s) domains and harnessing Adorno’s dialectical notion of material anew. I seek to establish links between dynamics of the arts domains and the fostering of specific modes of engagement with them – and, potentially, stances in other domains of life. I argue that a return to Adorno’s notion of (musical) material allows for such connections to be made: the ‘material’ is where the dynamics of the specific arts domains are inscribed; but it is also what is engaged with – by composers and artists as well as by interpreters, performers and publics. A dialectical material lens seems well suited for the critical study of the dynamic of arts domains in the 20th and 21st centuries, given the multiple artistic ‘breaks’ proclaimed. Focusing on some well-known movements in music and cuisine which sought to ‘emancipate’, ‘democratise’, and ‘diversify’ sounds and flavours, I analyse the processes through which they produced sound and flavour anew. I suggest that sounds and flavours themselves have become the carriers of logics relevant to music and cuisine, and that they have come to imperiously command modes of commitment (from composers and chefs, performers, listeners and diners alike) that evince specific stances. Through this necessarily sketchy survey, I provide indications that broader, cross-cutting cultural dynamics may be at stake. Overall, I seek to make clear what theoretical steps are afforded by the joint attention to materiality and the dynamic of art domains.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-345
Number of pages19
JournalCultural Sociology
Issue number3
Early online date11 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Adorno
  • art domains
  • cuisine
  • cultural sociology of art
  • flavour
  • material
  • music
  • sound
  • Weber


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