High-Low Art Distinction & Class: A Critique of Marxist Aesthetics
thesisposted on 10.06.2019 by Donald J Perry
In order to distinguish essays and pre-prints from academic theses, we have a separate category. These are often much longer text based documents than a paper.
The concept of high and low art have a very close relation to social class. There is a prevailing notion within developed countries that certain forms of art are more legitimate and deserving of respect than others due to their association with the upper class. This social aspect of art leads to the question of how art is used in society and whether it should be used in that way. Marxists’ deep interest in class have made their perspective particularly prominent concerning debate on the subject. Having such a deep interest in class, it is expected they have their own opinions on the role of class in art’s usage. Despite their immense influence on the subject, I find the Marxist perspective concerning class and art lacking. In this work, I will attempt to critique the Marxist position on the relation of art and class and attempt to provide a unique perspective on this subject. I will be examining art and class in terms of two questions. First, what is the relationship between class and art and how is art used by social classes? Second, what should the relationship between art and class be and how should art be treated in society? I will first examine the Marxist position through Theodor Adorno and Hebert Marcuse, present Bourdieu’s sociological findings on the subject, and present thinkers outside of the Marxist position while building my position in contrast to these thinkers.