A one-day Masterclass with Vincent Dubois
10am–3pm Wednesday 5 April  |  University of Canberra

Vincent Dubois (University of Strasbourg)

‘The hypothesis according to which we can draw a parallel between social and cultural domination has been intensely discussed during the past decades. In this presentation I will discuss the relevance of this framework when applied to “lowbrow” forms of culture. In this case, what are the social conditions for cultural domination to exert its effects? To address this question I will reflect on the social organisation of cultural and artistic activities, of its impact on the definition of the value of cultural goods, and therefore on the conditions under which “lowbrow” culture can escape cultural domination and obtain a certain degree of symbolic autonomy. This will be the occasion to discuss the ambiguous role of cultural policies and institutions in this process, and to address the sociological debate on the uses of the notions of worlds, fields and networks. To illustrate these theoretical debates and propositions, I will draw on empirical research conducted in France on cultural policies and amateur music’.


Vincent Dubois, sociologist and political scientist, is Professor at the University of Strasbourg. His research fields include cultural sociology, cultural policy, poverty and welfare and more generally sociological approaches to public policy.

He belongs to the SAGE research unit (Societies, Actors and Government in Europe) where he coordinates a working group on ‘Transformations in the Market for Symbolic Goods’. Prior to this he was a fellow at the University of Strasbourg’s Institute for Advanced Study, a Florence Gould member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University, USA, and a member at the Institut Universitaire de France. He has published more than 70 papers in scientific journals and eight books, including Culture as a Vocation (Routledge 2015), The Sociology of Wind Bands: Amateur Music Between Cultural Domination and Autonomy (Aldershot, Ashgate, 2013) and The Bureaucrat and the Poor: Encounters in French Welfare Offices (Aldershot, Ashgate, 2010).

In the morning session, Prof Dubois will discuss current sociological frameworks for understanding the relation of cultural and social domination, and introduce his own empirical studies on this topic. After lunch (provided), he will lead a round table discussion of participants’ own current research.

This is a free event, however registration is essential. Places are limited, and priority will be given to HDR candidates and Early Career Researchers. To register please email Katie Hayne (Katie.Hayne@canberra.edu.au) with an attached 300 word statement about your current research. A full program, including readings, will be sent to participants in mid-March.


Those attending the masterclass are warmly invited to stay for the following symposium:

Rethinking the Cultural Field – A one-day symposium

9.30am – 4pm Thursday April 6th  |  University of Canberra (venue details TBC)

Pierre Bourdieu’s writings on the cultural field represent a powerful account of the social space of creative works and cultural vocations. Offering a dynamic vision of the relations between cultural tastes, creative vocations and education systems, one in which the embodied temporality of actors is key to understanding the economy of practice, the cultural field represents an impressively integrated and generative model for understanding the social terrain of cultural activity. This account has supported major national studies of cultural consumption and production, as well as a major alternative approach to the topic of cultural work to that of the ‘knowledge society’ and ‘creative class’ theses.

While the cultural field has clearly been productive for empirical inquiry, researchers have inevitably raised questions about the limits of cultural field theory. To what extent are the dynamics of contemporary cultural fields competitive, as per the descriptions offered by Bourdieu; and even if so, to what extent are the dynamics of discrete cultural fields sufficient as an explanation for observed cultural practices? What role might state agencies have played, both now and in the past, in developing and sustaining the structure of the field, including the variable relations between the autonomous and market-oriented subfields, through instruments such as public arts funding and broadcasting? How have contested prescriptions of distinction arising from within arts and cultural fields themselves operated to limit action, and what legacies of this remain in the present? What effects might the recent policy emphasis on ‘creativity’ across a range of domains ­-­ from economic development through to social inclusion – have had on the field? What impact are new technologies having on the economies of creative production and consumption? And how should researchers take into account the effects of migration and transnational cultural markets?

This symposium brings together researchers undertaking empirical work on the cultural field in order to consider the opportunities, challenges and limits of cultural field theory.


Vincent Dubois (keynote lecture)
‘From social stratification to the cultural field: the genesis of career choices in cultural occupations’

Jane Andrew and Susan Luckman
‘Designer, Artisan, Artist, Craftsperson: Distinction, Boundary Marking and Making’s Fields’

Tony Bennett
‘Art fields in time and space: some Australian issues’

Scott Brook
‘The social inertia hypothesis of creative dispositions and the artistic critique of work’

Greg Noble
‘Whose culture? Whose field? Cultural production and consumption in a culturally complex society’

Mathieu O’Neil
‘Mapping social interactions in online cultural fields’

Megan Watkins
‘Time, Space and the Scholarly Habitus: Thinking Through the Phenomenological Dimensions of Field’

Jen Webb
‘Conditions of entry to the field’

All welcome (For catering purposes, please rsvp to Katie.Hayne@canberra.edu.au)

A full program will be posted on the CCCR site in March: