The passionate economy of graffiti and street art : Building social cohesion through art collecting
Sammanfattning: This study examines how social cohesion is built through exchange of urban art. Graffiti and street art are treated like dirt and washed away. Unsanctioned art is often perceived as alien to museums and private homes. Despite this, many graffiti and street artists produce art in studios that are sold in galleries as urban art. Through ethnographic tools and site visits to homes of collectors in the United States and Sweden this study explores what it means to exchange and own urban art. Guided by Émile Durkheim’s theories on social cohesion and Georg Simmel’s writings on social boundaries, sociological implications of material things are investigated. The analysis shows that exchange of urban art produces and affirms social bonds and passionate feelings about belonging to a specific art world. Artworks in private homes symbolically represent unsanctioned art; which makes collectors feel joy, purpose, and confidence. Urban art collectors dodge discursive definitions of art in favor of nondiscursive and pragmatic boundary work. In contrast to a Bourdieusian perspective this study found that art is not as much about reproduction of social hierarchies as about making social life meaningful and connected. The results suggest further research on materiality in times of digital media.
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