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Diversity and (In)equality in the Global Art World: Global Development and Structure of Field-Configuring Events

Christian MorgnerORCID iD: http://orcid.org/0000-0003-2891-0113
Published Online: 2017-08-15 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ngs-2016-0015


There is a boom of art historical studies on the globalisation of the arts or global art world. Sociological accounts are, despite the rise of cultural and art sociology in recent years, almost complete absent from this discussion. This paper makes a contribution to the globalisation of the arts, but from a sociological and quantitative perspective. The focus of this paper is on particular type of global institution – biennials and other types of art festivals or large-scale exhibitions. These institutions are seen being major places of exchange and formulation of norms and standards. They define what is hip and new. However, theories of globalisation, in combination with accounts from professionals of the field, claim that these institutions propagate only Western values or have a homogenising quality, because they only show caste works from artists of the Western hemisphere or that they repeat the same works and artists across the globe. However, based on a large-scale quantitative survey, this paper will demonstrate that picture is more complex and that we find tendencies to homogenisation and heterogenisation existing at the same time or that the locality of these events acts as a source of uniqueness and innovativeness. The paper proposes a new theoretical framework that interprets these findings as based on Niklas Luhmann’s idea of second-order observation and Bruno Latour’s and Harrison C. White’s conception of the network.

Keywords: global art world; diversity and (in)equality; festivals; hegemony; fine art; music; performing arts; art history


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About the article

Published Online: 2017-08-15

Published in Print: 2017-12-20

Citation Information: New Global Studies, Volume 11, Issue 3, Pages 165–196, ISSN (Online) 1940-0004, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ngs-2016-0015.

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