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7AAICC34 The Aesthetic Economy and Aesthetic Markets

Module convenor: Dr Joanne Entwistle
Teaching pattern: Ten one-hour lectures and ten one-hour seminars
Module description:

This module provides students with an overview of the concept of the ‘aesthetic economy’ and associated debates and issues concerning the merging and hybridisation of ‘culture’ and ‘economy’. This concept develops a theoretical and methodological framework for understanding of markets that trade in aesthetic commodities or qualities. The module introduces core theoretical issues central to understanding these markets: the ‘cultural turn’ within social life, the economy and social sciences, cultural intermediaries and mediation, calculation, tacit knowledge and aesthetic labour. Specific ethnographic case studies – in fashion modelling and fashion buying – ground the concepts and students are encouraged to develop these themes in relation to particular case studies and examples of their own.

Draft teaching syllabus

Week 1 - Introduction

Week 2 – Defining ‘culture and ‘economy’

Week 3 - Bourdieu – The field of cultural production

Week 4 - Case study-The Field of Fashion

Week 5 - Callon - Markets as networks

Week 6 - Case study -Calculation in aesthetic markets

Week 7 - What kind of objects are produced in aesthetic markets?

Week 8 - What kind of labour is involved?

Week 9 - What kind of knowledge is involved?

Week 10 – Aesthetics and ‘atmosphere’

Module aims

This module will provide students with an overview of the concept of the ‘aesthetic economy’ and examine the qualities associated with aesthetic markets. In doing so, the module will consider debates and issues concerning the merging and hybridization of ‘culture’ and ‘economy’ in markets through a range of different approaches from within cultural studies and economic sociology. It will also raise questions as to the nature of cultural and aesthetic commodities, the circulation of value inside such markets and the particularities of knowledge and labour within them.

Learning outcomes

On completion of the course, students will have a sound empirical and theoretical framework for understanding the aesthetic economy and aesthetic and cultural markets. Students will have developed a broader and deeper understanding of debates concerning the cultural economy and aesthetic markets. Students will have developed their ability to communicate these theoretical concepts orally and in writing and be able to analyse a range of contemporary media texts and cultural phenomena.

Core reading

  • Aspers, P. (2011). Orderly fashion : a sociology of markets. Oxford, Princeton University Press.
  • Aspers, P. (2011). Markets. Cambridge, Polity Press.
  • Amin, A. and Thrift. N. eds. (2004) The Blackwell Cultural Economy Reader. Oxford, Blackwell.
  • Boudieu, P. (1993) The Field of Cultural Production. Cambridge, Polity.
  • Callon, M. (1998) The Laws of the Markets. Oxford, Blackwell. Pages 1-59
  • Callon, M., C. Méadel, et al. (2005). ‘The economy of qualities.’ The Technological Economy. A. Barry and D. Slater. London, Routledge:
  • Entwistle, J. (2009) The Aesthetic Economy of Fashion: markets and value in clothing and modelling. London: Bloomsbury.
  • Du Gay, P., and M. Pryke. eds. (1997). Cultural Economy. London, Sage.


1 x 4,000 word essay (100%)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

 The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.

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