Reproductions, cultural capital and museums: aspects of the culture of copies

Gordon Fyfe


The concept of cultural capital is well known in museum studies from pioneering visitor research conducted and reported by Pierre Bourdieu in the 1960s. This paper examines the concept in the light of the criticism that, whilst it illuminates the dynamics of cultural consumption and inequality in advanced capitalist societies, its socio-genesis is less well understood. It is argued that the historical sociology of fine art reproduction provides an opportunity to (i) enlarge our understanding of its formation and (ii) to explore the cultural character of the copy and the sociology of the body. The paper draws on Marx’s concept of primitive accumulation, on Connerton’s distinction between incorporated and inscribing practices and on Bourdieu’s distinction between three states of cultural capital.

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Copyright (c) 2015 Gordon Fyfe

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Museum and Society

ISSN 1479-8360