Scandal and the Work of Art: The Nude in an Aesthetically Inflected Sociology of the Arts

Alexander, Victoria D. and Bowler, Anne E.. 2018. Scandal and the Work of Art: The Nude in an Aesthetically Inflected Sociology of the Arts. Cultural Sociology, 12(3), pp. 325-342. ISSN 1749-9755 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

American sociologists working in the production perspective have produced a rich body of work on systems of aesthetic-cultural production, distribution, and consumption, but they have paid relatively little attention to the work of art. Aligning with new sociological work that takes the work of art seriously, this article contributes to an aesthetically inflected sociology of the arts: research that includes the work of art as an integral part of the analysis. Substantively, we examine a nineteenth-century scandal surrounding paintings of nudes. We show that the work of art constitutes crucial evidence for understanding arts scandals. Artworks are connected with social and aesthetic issues by means of their pictorial elements, which are viewed by a public through historically situated “period eyes.” Each of these elements is needed to spark an arts controversy, and all must be studied in order to understand them.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Sociology of art, Visual arts, The nude, Arts controversies, Scandal

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Institute for Cultural and Creative Entrepreneurship (ICCE)


20 March 2018Accepted
20 June 2018Published Online
1 September 2018Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

23 Mar 2018 15:27

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:44

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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