David Hesmondhalgh – "Bourdieu, the media and cultural production"

David Hesmondhalgh – “Bourdieu, the media and cultural production”, Media, Culture & Society,

Vol. 28(2): 211-231, 2006.

– Bourdieu’s “cultural production” – The Field of Cultural Produnction(1993) + The Rules of Art(1996, 1992)

– “…his work on cultural production focuses overwhelmingly on two types of filed or sub-field of cultural production that are primarily expressive-aesthetic: literature and art. …more briefly and polemically on journalism” (212).

– “Small-scale or restricted production is descrived as having a relatively high degree of autonomy, but never full autonomy; mass production is ‘heteronomous’ – subject to outside rule – but never fully so”(214).

: autonomy vs. heteronomy

– small-scale production –> pure artistic products / mass production –> commoercial cultural goods.

– “A field’s autonomy is to be valued because it provides the pre-conditions for the full creative process proper to each field and ultimately resistance to the “symbolic violence” exerted by the dominant system of hierarchization” (215, qtd from Benson).


– Bourdieu’s sociology of cultural production + cultural consumption: “Both aim to reveal the way that taken-for-granted social practices tend ultimately to serve the interests of the dominant class”(216).

: balance between “the emphasis on the drive for autonomy” + “stress on the interconnectedness of the field of cultural production with other fields[econ+poli(=field of power)+edu+intel]”


– “…important limitations when it comes to analysing contemporary cultural production. …how little Bourdieu has to say about large-scale, ‘heteronomous’ commercial cultural production“(217).

– “B offers no account of how the most widely consumed cultural products – those disseminated by the media – are produced”(218).

—> problems in his model of the history of c.p.”(219).

– “…Raymond Williams offers a superior understanding of the historical development of c.p. in his book Culture (1981)” (219).

: 4 stages in the social relations of creators: artisanal –> post-artisanal –> market professional –> corporate professional

– “Bourdieu misses the importance of the rise of the cultural industries for understanding the changing social relations of cultural producers”(220).

– “…Bourdieu has very little to say about large-scale production beyond the idea that it responds to ‘a pre-existing demand, and in pre-established forms‘”(223).

– On Television: “… the system of audience ratings provides the same kinds of restrictions on the autonomy of cultural producers as ‘poll-based demagogy does on politics'”(224).

:”Today, … the market is accepted more and more as a legitimate means of ligitimation… Audience ratinds impose the sales model on cultural products” (Bourdieu).

: cultural production –> marketization, audience research –> fundamental to this process

– new cultural intermediaries : “a particular type of new petit-bourgeois profession, associated with cultural commentary in the mass media, ‘the most typical of whom are the producers of cultural programmes on TV and radio or the critics of “quality” newspapers and magazines and all the writer-journalists and journalist-writers'”(226).

– “Much of the key critical research on media production in Anglo-American media studies has tended to be based on a mixture of such approaches, combining political economy theory with organizational studies, much of it largely compatible with hegemony theory”(228).

: Nicholas Garnham, Peter Golding, Graham Murdock… the later work of Raymond Williams.

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