The Capital of Art

Student thesis: Master Thesis and HD Thesis

  • Grete Marie Jensen
  • Julie Elisabeth Kolind
4. term, Communication, Master (Master Programme)
The aim of this thesis is to explore how art and the corporate world – two fields with differing logics – can benefit one another in spite of their differences. Consequently, this thesis will also explore the challenges that emerge, when art and the corporate world are brought together.
The approach of this thesis is a constructive one, as it is founded on the hypothesis that value creation can take place.
The recent years’ great focus on experience economy has prompted an interest in art as a resource for the corporate world to draw on in the pursuit to generate profit. In the political discourse, art is constructed as society’s growth generator. This economic and instrumental approach to the artist influences the artist’s role and significance in society. However, the results of this thesis show that there are disagreeing conceptions of the artist’s role, and these disagreements can be divided into a modernist conception as well as a postmodern conception. The modernist conception is based on the artist as an autonomous person whereas the postmodern conception of the artist is influenced by the experience economy. However, this conception still contains elements from the modernism.
On the one hand, the experience economy’s commercialisation of the artists runs the risk of phasing out the artist’s role as a formative individual who challenges society. On the other hand, the artist’s opportunity to influence society is diminished if the artist does not interact with society. As a result, the artistic field finds itself in a dilemma; a dilemma which is heavily influenced by the political discourse. In the thesis, Pierre Bourdieu’s theories on field, habitus and capitalistic forms are applied both to elucidate how artists position themselves in relation to the politically constructed concept of art, and to shed light on the principles influencing the artistic field. The artist’s position and role constitute one of two parts of the analysis. One of this part’s main points is that the artistic field has lost its elevated status in the postmodern society, and artists are therefore forced to create awareness about their own worth if this is not to be determined and absorbed by a purely economic and utilitarian mindset. The companies’ constitute platforms from which the artists can potentially reach a large audience, and collaboration between companies and artists can therefore be productive – regardless of how the artists position themselves in the hierarchy.
The thesis has a social constructionist view as the field of research is a dynamic, continuously influenced and unstable field with diverse logics and viewpoints. All main theories applied in this thesis relate to social constructionism.

The second half of the analysis deals with the economic field. The companies are in a situation where increasing competition necessitates them to tend to their corporate image and create increased value in order to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Collaboration between the two fields has potential to create increased value, but it is far from uncomplicated. Many companies are sceptical about including artists in their business development, not only because of the typically contradictory logics of the two fields, but also because it is difficult for companies to see the economic value creation. For this reason, the thesis explores three larger Danish businesses, which all have traditions for prioritising art and have good experiences with art bringing value to both company and corporate image without robbing the artists of their core competences.
This part of the analysis explores the companies’ motives for prioritising art, as well as how they understand and accept arts’ capital. Here Bourdieu’s theories will also be applied. In order to create a theoretical framework, which can support and extend the understanding of how art can create value, theory on CSR, Corporate Social Responsibility, is applied. By applying theory on CSR, the thesis shows that the CSR-mindset can build a bridge between the company and the art as a different way of approaching experience economy. CSR affects the entire company as it concerns internal as well as external processes. In an interplay with Mary Joe Hatch and Majken Schultz’s model The Dynamics of Organisational Identity, the thesis elucidates the many dimensions and processes art can affect. Consequently, art can create value for companies internationally as well as externally. However, the thesis also points out certain preconditions for this value creation: Only if art is acknowledged, cultivated and implemented in the company on its own terms, can art be a potential pawn in the positioning-game and, furthermore, be a decisive and differentiating factor within the framework of the experience economy.
Publication date1 Aug 2011
Number of pages136
ID: 54836777