Beyond Bourdieu?

International Symposium - 22nd - 24th September 2017

The conference aims to bring together an international group of junior and senior scholars from music education, sociology of music and related fields to discuss the legacy of Pierre Bourdieu’s sociological conceptions in the context of music education research.

However, during the last fifteen years, Bourdieu’s legacy has crucially been questioned for several reasons: First of all, cultural participation and aesthetic objects are reflected within a network of social forces. Although the connection of cultural capital and social power is an important issue, the aesthetic experience and the aesthetic objects themselves cannot be denied and there is more than only a social value to musical participation. Furthermore, Bourdieu-inspired research very often relates to high-cultural participation, which relies on an orthodox and normative assumption about what forms of participation are legitimate/distinctive. And although social inequality can be examined and explained with the help of Bourdieu, his framework does not offer a developmental perspective or a precise conception of what social justice really means. This leads to the fact that, especially in quantitative studies, social justice is understood and assessed based on egalitarian arguments. From a pedagogical point of view, this seems problematic.

As a consequence, alternative approaches emerge especially in the Anglo-American context. They try to consolidate the aesthetic and the social (‘aesthetic turn’) and shift their perspectives from social determinism and differentiation to individual practice, agency, empowerment and wellbeing. However, these approaches have been hardly recognized in the German context of music education.

At the same time cultural education and participation are rather important issues in the scientific as well as in the public field, as for example the emergence of programs like An Instrument for every child or other El-Sistema inspired programs and the huge amount of research around those programs show. Do they really reach their aims on the level of social justice? Or are they imposing a model derived from middle-class ideas of cultural participation to people for whom music plays a completely different role in their everyday lives? However, there are more than only Bourdieu’s arguments that come into play here.

Aim of the symposium

Supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG), we would like to discuss the consequences of this critique for research in music education and music sociology. What are useful theoretical frameworks to understand music’s role in society? How can Bourdieu’s perspectives be broadened, how can they be re-interpreted and how can they be complemented by recent approaches?  The Institute for Advanced Studies s a state supported high level institution. It offers a unique setting for in-depth discussions. Up to 30 researchers can meet in a quiet atmosphere free of distractions: good meals and all technical supplies will be provided. All hotels are close by.

We would like to invite researchers and contributors who pay particular attention to these issues either on a theoretical or an empirical level. The discussion will be stimulated by three keynote lectures, including Nick Prior (University of Edinburgh), Ylva Hofvander Trulsson (Malmö Academy of Music) and Sam DeBoise (Örebro University).

There are still some places left for discussants. To register as a discussant without contribution, please send an email to valerie.krupp-schleußner[@]

Confrence Fee: 50,00€

How to get to Delmenhorst: