The Research Network Sociology of the Arts, which is part of the European Sociological Association (ESA) announces its 2012 mid-term conference. Since 2000, the Network has organised a biannual conference on Sociology of the Arts. A key aim of these conferences is to promote collaboration and scholarly exchange between scholars of the arts, to support the presentation of new research projects and to offer inspiration for the further development of sociology of the arts.


The focus of the key lectures at the conference in Vienna (5-8 September 2012) will be on artistic practices. The concept of practice differs from the classical concept of action. Practice is located in a community of practice and it should be analysed on the basis of its embeddedness in social structures and cultural dynamics. This theoretical conception also transforms our understanding of other theoretical concepts such as knowledge, intention, meaning, institution, rule, structure, and power. Practice theory, praxeology, interaction theory and discourse theory, ethnomethodology have elaborated different theoretical and methodological approaches for the analysis and empirical research of various practices, however artistic practices have rarely been explicitly focused on. Artistic practices as arrays of specific activities (which include in a narrow sense the area of conception and production and in a broader sense the promotion, distribution, displaying and conveying understanding of arts too) assume theoretical knowledge as well as know-how, that is to say connoisseurship but also practical abilities and skills. Artistic practices are developed practically and collectively in collaborative networks. They are pre-structured by conventions, institutions, regimes of competence, forms or alignments of power, and technological and financial means, although practices themselves instigate the formation of these various structural parameters. Another seminal characteristic of practices is their partly tacit dimension, which is due to the inherent limits of language, of practical consciousness as well as to the habituation that takes place after familiarisation and implicit learning.

We have invited four key speakers for this topic: Karlheinz Essl (composer), Nathalie Heinich (sociologist), Theodore Schatzki (philosopher), Laurent Thévenot (sociologist)


The conference is also open for presentations to all core areas of arts sociology. We equally invite experienced and young sociologist to participate at the conference - see Call for Papers.