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By Janet Wolff
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Extra info for Aesthetics and the Sociology of Art
Other contributors also reassert traditional assumptions about art, in similarly traditional and uncritical vocabulary. Political and Aesthetic Value 51 Dickens appears to be the hero of the conference (see Hoggart, 1970/1, pp. 23-4; Holbrook, 1980/1, pp. 89-93) against whom the excesses of contemporary or experimental literature are measured. But throughout, the defence of 'standards' is absent, at least in the necessary analytic terms which would take issue with the specifically aesthetic criteria employed (rather than returning to discredited notions like 'humanity struggling to understand itself ...
In the meantime, I conclude this chapter by noting the failure of those other approaches which either collapse aesthetics into the social, or deny the relevance of sociology to the aesthetic, either by being unable to comprehend the sociological project, or by making an exception in the case of art. All of these, I have argued, are illegitimate strategies, and ones which get us no nearer the development of a sociological aesthetics. One of the major difficulties which has emerged so far is the relationship between political or ideological value and what I have been continuing to call 'aesthetic value' .
To return to Schiller is even to ignore the historicist, Hegelian critique of the aesthetic categories, which Lukacs himself adopted before his conversion to Marxism; for Marcuse, the aesthetic remains a universal, human category. In his last work, The Aesthetic Dimension (1978), he asserts even more boldly the autonomy of art from its social relations, presenting the essay as a critique of 'Marxist orthodoxy'. Despite its affirmative tendencies, he says, art remains a dissenting force (p. 8), speaking a 'language of radically different experience' (p.
Aesthetics and the Sociology of Art by Janet Wolff