Friday, June 9, 2017

Why Elites Love Authentic Lowbrow Culture: Overcoming High-Status Denigration with Outsider Art

Why Elites Love Authentic Lowbrow Culture: Overcoming High-Status Denigration with Outsider Art. By Oliver Hahl, Ezra W. Zuckerman, Minjae Kim
American Sociological Review

Abstract: We develop and test the idea that public appreciation for authentic lowbrow culture affords an effective way for certain elites to address feelings of authenticity-insecurity arising from “high status denigration” (Hahl and Zuckerman 2014). This argument, which builds on recent sociological research on the “search for authenticity” (e.g., Grazian 2005) and on Bourdieu’s (1993) notion of artistic “disinterestedness,” is validated through experiments with U.S. subjects in the context of “outsider” art (Fine 2004). The first study demonstrates that preference for lowbrow culture perceived to be authentic is higher when individuals feel insecure in their authenticity because they attained status in a context where extrinsic incentives are salient. The second study demonstrates that audiences perceive the members of erstwhile denigrated high-status categories to be more authentic if they consume lowbrow culture, but only if the cultural producer is perceived as authentic. We conclude by noting how this “authenticity-by-appreciation” effect might be complementary to distinction-seeking as a motivation for elite cultural omnivorousness, and we draw broader implications for when and why particular forms of culture are in demand.

Mi resumen de lo que los autores defienden: el aprecio por el arte lowbrow* proporciona a ciertas élites un modo eficaz de abordar la inseguridad sobre su autenticidad, dudas que emanan del la denigración del status alto (“high status denigration,” Hahl and Zuckerman 2014). La búsqueda de la autenticidad y el carácter desinteresado, no enfocado en lo lucrativo, de ciertas muestras artísticas, se someten a experimentos con sujetos estadounidenses. El primer estudio muestra que la preferencia por cultura lowbrow percibida como auténtica es alta cuando los sujetos se sienten inseguros sobre su autenticidad. El segundo estudio muestra que los otros perciben a miembros de las categorias denigradas (alto standing) como más auténticos si consumen cultura lowbrow, pero solo si el productor cultural se percibe como auténtico. Este efecto de autenticidad es complementario a la búsqueda de carácter único en la motivación del carácter omnívoro cultural de la élite.

* lowbrow art: An underground visual art movement that arose in the Los Angeles area in the late 1970s. Lowbrow is a widespread populist art movement with origins in the underground comix world, punk music, hot-rod street culture, and other California subcultures. It is also often known by the name pop surrealism. Most lowbrow artworks are paintings, but there are also toys, and sculptures. Many of the creators of lowbrow art are influenced by Acid house flyers, Advertising, Animated cartoons, Circus and Sideshow culture, Commercial art, Comic books, Erotica, Graffiti and Street art, Kitsch, Kustom Kulture, Mail art, Pop culture, Psychedelic art, Punk rock culture, Retro Illustration, Religious art, Pulp magazine art, Surf culture, Tattoo art, Tiki culture, Toys for adults, notably vinyl figurines, anti-political views, among many other things.

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