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Cultural Sociology

http://cus.sagepub.com/ Art Words and Art Worlds: The Methodological Importance of Language Use in Howard S. Becker's Sociology of Art and Cultural Production
Robert Cluley Cultural Sociology 2012 6: 201 DOI: 10.1177/1749975512440223 The online version of this article can be found at: http://cus.sagepub.com/content/6/2/201

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CUS6210.1177/1749975512440223CluleyCultural Sociology

Article

Art Words and Art Worlds: The Methodological Importance of Language Use in Howard S. Beckers Sociology of Art and Cultural Production
Robert Cluley
University of Leicester, UK

Cultural Sociology 6(2) 201216 The Author(s) 2012 Reprints and permission: sagepub. co.uk/journalsPermissions.nav DOI: 10.1177/1749975512440223 cus.sagepub.com

Abstract
This article reviews Howard S. Beckers work on cultural production. It suggests that Beckers influential framework for analysing cultural production, the art world, leaves us with one important but unanswered question: the question of methodology. Exploring this question by a close reading of Beckers writings and noting recent uses of the art world framework in combination with social psychological methods, the article explains why language use, or art words, offers us a powerful way to study the collective action of cultural production in art worlds.

Keywords
art, art world, collective action, Howard S. Becker, methodology, sociology of art, structuration

Introduction
Howard S. Becker once a student at the famous Chicago school of sociology has produced a hugely influential body of literature addressing the production and consumption of cultural texts. Establishing Beckers importance to cultural sociology by citing a complete list of works that use his ideas would be, as with any truly influential theorist, a waste of paper. Put simply, his work has reinvigorated the formal study of culture (Kaufman, 2004: 335) to the extent that Becker is considered by some as perhaps the leading U.S. sociologist studying art (Katz, 2006: xi) and others as one of the foremost sociologists of the second half of the twentieth century (Plummer, 2003: 21). According to Bourdieu (1983: 34), Beckers most important contribution to cultural sociology, in particular, has been to focus our attention on the ways that cultural texts are created
Corresponding author: Robert Cluley, School of Management, Ken Edwards Building, University of Leicester, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK Email: rjc48@leicester.ac.uk

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through structured collective action. His analyses move beyond the individual artist to show us the interacting network of people who work around them, providing them with materials, teaching them to turn those materials into art, distributing that art for them, and, eventually, consuming it. Becker (1982) calls this interacting network the art world. The art world, though, does more than focus our attention on social structures. Building on his interest in deviant behaviour, Becker has worked to create a perspective that not only emphasizes the ways that social structures enforce conventional forms of cultural production but also allows for social actors to innovate unconventional art work. Theoretically, then, Beckers ideas about the production of culture are grounded on what we now call structuration. Although Becker himself rarely speaks through such terms, he does tell us that he sees cultural texts as both a point of reference for people engaged in interaction and products of interaction (1986: 19). So, like Giddens (1976, 1979, 1984), Becker proposes that human action is conditioned by social structures but that these structures are themselves determined by human action. Becker (1986) tells us that in any sociological analysis, our theoretical perspective should drive our methodological choices. Yet despite the theoretical foundation of the art world framework, he does not set out a prescriptive methodology specifying exactly how we should study art worlds. He argues against the predominately proselytizing character of much work on methodology, which, he tells us, has a very strong propensity . . . to preach a right way to do things (1970: 4). In fact, not only does he argue against dogmatic approaches to methods, but he also tells us that we should allow the contingencies of our methods to change our theoretical assumptions. If we cannot study the social world in the way we thought we could, we should look again at our theoretical assumptions rather than force the world to fit into our expectations. For the study of art worlds, though, this advice gets us in a mess. Researchers who have used the art world idea to study cultural production have drawn contrasting conclusions that, collectively, contradict the fundamental point of the framework. In the study of the production of music some researchers conclude that social structures are, ultimately, responsible for shaping cultural texts, while others tell us that human creativity and artistic innovation-in short, social actioncan never be contained by those social structures. If we are to let these studies change our theoretical explanation of the production of culture as Becker (1986) advises, which perspective should we choose? Both contradict the theoretical perspective at the heart of the art world framework but they are mutually exclusive social theories so we cannot accept them both (Dawe, 1970). Becker, though, provides a way to explain what has happened. He warns us that where there are no strict set of approved rules and procedures concerning methods we generally face two options: dont do it or anything goes (1970: 15). Taking the anything goes approach carries considerable risks especially when applied to the art world perspective. It might not produce wrong answers but it might mean that we leave out an important feature of the art world we study (Becker, 1986: 6). To avoid this problem, we must ensure that our analyses of art worlds focus on both the structures that facilitate collective action and the human creativity that innovates those structures. To do this, we must explore the methodology of studying art worlds. Through a close reading of Beckers writings about cultural production and sociological methods, we come across a method that moves beyond the anything goes approach towards an approach that accounts for the theoretical foundation of the art world framework. Becker tells us that language use is an analytic wedge that can help us prise open
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the structures that surround social action to see how social action, itself, provides resources that structure the social world (1986: 147). Becker (1963) most notably uses this approach in his study of jazz musicians that is, in a study of both cultural production and deviant behaviour. The analysis of language use has since been developed both methodologically and theoretically by social psychologists, organization theorists and discourse analysts including Boje, Oswick and Ford (2004), Fairclough (1995) and Potter and Wetherell (1987). It should be no surprise, then, to find recent work by Strachan (2007) and Taylor and Littleton (2008) using methods developed in these disciplines to study language use in art worlds. Highlighting the important methodological contributions these studies make the article contributes to the cultural sociology literature by explaining why particular instances of language use, or art words, are so important to the study of art worlds.

Art Worlds
In his seminal text Art Worlds, Becker takes issue with the romantic myth of the artist (1982: 14). Building on his earlier text (Becker, 1974), he asserts that art works are not the products of individual makers, artists who possess a rare and special gift (1982: 35). Instead, Becker tells us: All artistic work, like all human activity, involves the joint activity of a number, often a large number, of people (1982: 1). The group of people most commonly associated with the production of cultural texts might be creative artists. They are the ones who paint pictures and write symphonies. But other people help them. This group can be viewed as mere support personnel administrative functionaries who facilitate creativity without being creative themselves (Becker, 1982: 77). However, from a sociological perspective, they are as essential to the production of cultural texts as creative artists. As a result, Becker concludes that the sociological analysis of any art must concentrate on the division of labor between creative artists and support personnel (1974: 768). Becker argues that this division of labour between creative artists and support personnel has a common feature no matter what type of cultural text people are working on. It is a conventional arrangement. He explains that people making art do not decide things afresh. Instead, they rely on earlier agreements now become customary, agreements that have become part of the conventional way of doing things in that art (1982: 29). Some conventions emerge from technologies and raw materials and others from the ways that cultural texts are consumed (Becker, 1982: 3). Whatever their source, conventions limit the choices an artist can make even before the artist has thought of making any choices. They make certain materials available and outlaw certain practices. They increase the efficiency of cultural production and create systems of value and reward (Becker, 1974: 775). In sum, they shape a social and material space in which cultural production happens. They form the basic unit of analysis in the study of cultural production, which Becker calls the art world (1982: 36). In Beckers analysis, the conventions that form an art world are of great importance. Indeed, Becker tells us that it is not unreasonable to say that it is the art world, rather than the individual artist, which makes the work (1982: 194). The conventions that structure art worlds are always under threat from innovative actors. Art worlds are, in other words, only stable for a while (Becker, 2007: 7). Technological innovations and
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discursive conflicts routinely emerge in cultural production as artists look for new forms of expression and support personnel seek to establish their legitimacy. Despite the power of conventions, then, unconventional work is possible. It is typically more costly and more difficult and is often punished both economically and symbolically (Becker, 1974: 775). The art world, therefore, allows for innovation on the part of individual cultural producers despite highlighting the importance of conventions.

Exploring Art Worlds: Beckers Methodology


In adopting the art world framework we accept a specific answer to what Becker describes as a serious problem that confronts any sociological investigator who wished to study a group or community (1970: 20). This is the choice of a theoretical framework with which to approach our area of interest (Becker, 1970: 20). All theoretical frameworks are based on assumptions about how we think the world works. Here, Dawe (1970) sets out two broad traditions within sociology that can help us orientate Beckers (1982) theoretical foundations. Echoing Mills (1959) distinction between sociological investigations that focus on social structures and those that focus on social milieux, Dawe explains that we have, on the one hand, a social system tradition in sociology that assumes that social structures define social meanings, relationships and actions of its members. And because it is thus assigned priority over them, it must in some sense be self-generating and self-maintaining (1970: 208). The social actor is, on this reading, on the receivingend of the system (Dawe, 1970: 209). On the other hand, we also have a sociological tradition exploring what Dawe calls social action. Dawe explains that the task of such research is always and necessarily to demystify the social system by revealing its roots in human action (1970: 214). Sociologists working under this theoretical perspective explore how people actively construct the social system. However, a truly sociological analysis needs to take account of both the social system and social action (Mills, 1959). But this is not an easy thing to do. Indeed, developing a sociological theory that takes account of the relation between social system and social action has taxed some of the most esteemed social theorists of recent years (Sewell, 1992). Giddens (1976, 1979, 1984), in particular, takes on this challenge in his concept of structuration, as does Bourdieu (1977) with his concept of habitus. As we have seen, this is also what Becker (1982) attempts in the context of cultural production with the art world. The art world focuses our attention on both the constraints on action by highlighting the power of conventions and the limits to structures by highlighting how actors innovate around conventions. Becker (1982) is not only concerned with order but also conflict. In this sense, the art world framework is based on what Peterson (1976: 16) calls a genetic understanding of culture. Becker (1974, 1982) does not assume that cultural texts mirror the social structure or vice versa. Nor does he assume that cultural texts are produced autonomously from a social structure. Instead, he argues that
how culture works as a guide in organizing collective action and how it comes into being are really the same process. In both cases people pay attention to what other people are doing and, in an attempt to mesh what they do with those others, refer to what they know (or think they know) in common. (Becker, 1986: 19)

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Nevertheless, while Becker (1986) is clear that our choice of theoretical framework must influence our methodology, at times in his work he argues for a pragmatic approach to methodology. The art world framework is, in this sense, in harmony with Beckers (1970) earlier assertion that we should be willing to revise our methods based on practicalities and contingencies of our research. In fact, more generally, Becker advises us that practical problems should make us look again at our beliefs and theoretical assumptions. He insists: Technical problems of research reflect the peculiarities of the social groups we study. In solving them, we simultaneously learn something about the social structure under observation and something about the methods we use (1986: 156). Consequently, Becker suggests that the best evidence may simply be that gathered in the most unthinking fashion, when the observer has simply recorded the item although it has no place in the system of concepts and hypotheses he is working with at the time (1970: 36). Here Becker seems to be arguing for us to gather evidence first and ask theoretical questions later. But Becker does not stringently follow his own advice. In fact, he points out some pitfalls with such an approach. In terms of art worlds, Becker emphasizes that the production of cultural texts involves people doing things together. This, he tells us, sets a distinctive agenda for our inquiry. We are to look, first, for the complete roster of kinds of people whose activity contributes to the result (1976: 41). He describes this as the problem of getting in (1970: 15). Becker continues:
A problem that afflicts almost all researchers at the least, all those who attempt to study, by whatever method, organizations, groups, and communities in the real world is getting in: getting permission to study the thing you want to study, getting access to the people you want to observe, interview or give questionnaires to. (1970: 15)

Becker (1986) points out that it is often only particular groups that present themselves to us for study and this can influence our findings. For example, if we want to study criminals we can find many of them in a prison but these are, by definition, criminals who have been caught (Becker, 1986: 140). It is entirely possible that something very important separates them from the criminals who have not been caught. This sampling error, Becker explains, and it is properly called that, may have distorted many of our theories; for instance, it may contribute to the substantial predilection of social scientists for theories of consensus rather than conflict (1970: 17). In the study of art worlds, this means that we might favour the conventional and easily accessible and ignore the unconventional. Consequently, we might think that art worlds are more constrained by conventions than they are. Once we have found an art world to study there is a further issue: where should our observation post be (Becker, 1986: 143)? Becker tells us, for example, that if we want to study deviants we could locate ourselves in places where the deviants we are interested in studying congregate and then either simply observe them or take the opportunity to interact with them and gather information in a more direct and purposive way (1986: 143). But it might be impossible for us to get involved and remain impartial observers. In the course of our research we may be dragged into the very thing we are trying to study. This, of course, is not necessarily bad. Faulkner and Becker tell us that it

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offers wonderful possibilities for data gathering not open in the same way to outsiders (2008: 19). In particular, as Becker, Faulkner and Kirschenblatt-Gimblett explain, if you are already involved in the thing you want to study [y]ou know what forms of collective activity are there to be studied, what the typical problems of participants in the activity are, what to ask people about, what kinds of events to be on the lookout for. Youve already done a pilot study (2006: 15). But there are also some unique disadvantages to studying something you are a part of (Faulkner and Becker, 2008: 19). For instance, we might become too involved. Our study might affect the world that we want to understand and describe. In the study of art worlds, this might mean that we lack perspective and may miss the structures around us especially as many art worlds valorize artistic freedom and tend to downplay the importance of conventional arrangements. So what we take for innovations might be imposed on us by conventional arrangements beyond the horizon of our insider viewpoint. Aside from this general methodological advice, in Art Worlds, Becker points out some specific methodological considerations for the study of art worlds. In particular, he highlights the importance of considering our sample size that is, calculating the boundaries of the art world we are studying. He tells us that when we are studying an art world we should speak to as many people as we can because [d]ifferent groups of participants know different parts of the total body of conventions used by an art world (1982: 42). But how do we know when we have spoken to enough people? Becker (1982) also tells us that art worlds blur into each other. So, how do we know that we have stopped learning about one world and started learning something about another one? Unfortunately, Becker does not offer us solutions to these problems. For instance, Bryman (2001: 98) points out that Becker himself used a snowball sampling method in his (1963) study of deviance, but at no point does he explicitly advocate this technique for the study of art worlds. Rather, Beckers (1982) guidance on methodology leaves us with many blanks to fill in. He draws us a map but leaves out many directions that would allow us to navigate our way around (Becker, 2007). The risk is, consequently, that we can easily get lost.

An Example of the Problem


As a result of these gaps, the art world has been used in conflicting ways within different strands of research in the sociology of culture. Even within the study of the production of music, for instance, an area where Becker (1951, 1963) has done much empirical research, the art world framework has been incorporated into two competing methodological approaches. As we will see, one has a theoretical foundation in the social structure tradition and the other in the social action tradition.

Production of Culture
The production of culture perspective, like the art world framework, posits that cultural texts do not spring forth full blown (Peterson, 1979: 152) and that they are not made by unique creative geniuses working alone (Peterson, 1976: 14). It should be no surprise, then, that Becker (1976) contributed to an early edited collection on the production of

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culture perspective edited by Richard A. Peterson (1976). This research perspective, though, is founded on the idea that cultural texts are ultimately shaped by the contexts in which they are produced and not by the people who work in these contexts (Peterson, 1982; Peterson and Anand, 2004; Ross, 2005; Sanders, 1982). Indeed, the distinctive characteristic of the production-of-culture perspective is its focus on the infrastructure that surrounds cultural production (Peterson, 1976: 14). In this regard, Peterson and Anand (2004) review the production of culture perspective as a distinct research method. They describe it as an attempt to explore the constituent elements comprising a field of symbolic production (2004: 313). Each of these constitutive elements, which cover technology, laws and regulation, industry structures, organization structures, careers and markets, can be studied individually. We can explore how an element affects the ways that cultural texts are made. But these constitutive elements are interlinked. Changes in any element are absorbed into others. We can, accordingly, also investigate the impact of one element on other elements. Researchers exploring the production of music from a production of culture perspective have tended towards quantitative analysis and historical data using industry reports, media accounts and sociological texts to chart the relationships between various constituent elements. Peterson and Berger (1975), in perhaps the most widely debated example production of culture research, employ this approach to explore the relationship between industry structure and innovation in the recorded music industry. Using sales charts, they compute the number of hit records four and eight firm oligarchies produce in a given year. They conclude that high levels of concentration of ownership lead to noticeably decreasing levels of variety among hit records. Drawing on Peterson and Berger (1975), other researchers employing the production of culture perspective have further quantified this analysis. Dowd (2004), for instance, quantifies the variation of hit records. Research using the production of culture perspective, as a result, rarely uses ethnographic empirical research. But this should be no surprise. The perspective is based on the idea that individuals are not responsible for cultural production. They work within social institutions that are, ultimately, responsible. Peterson (1990), for instance, rejects a traditional account of the sudden explosion of rock n roll music that focuses on individual innovators. Instead, he argues:
in any era there is a much larger number of creative individuals than ever reach notoriety, and if some specific periods of time see the emergence of more notables, it is because these are times when the usual routinising inhibitions to innovation do not operate as systematically, allowing opportunities for innovation to emerge. (1990: 97)

Broadly speaking, we might accordingly place the production of culture within the social structure tradition Dawe (1970) describes. In terms of the art world, it focuses on conventions and the ways that social structures enforce them rather than allow or foster the innovation of individual social actors. The particulars of symbol production vary from setting to setting, Peterson explains, but all must come to terms with the same contingencies that shape the ways artists can make culture (1979: 156).

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Micro-sociology
In contrast, a number of writers, including Bennett (1980), Cluley (2009), Cohen (1991a), Finnegan (1989) and Negus (1992, 1999), adopt the art world perspective as part of the micro-sociology of music production (Finnegan, 1989: 4). This approach focuses the on day-to-day work of people who make music together. It explores interactions where tensions between artists, consumers and corporations are mediated and find expression in a range of working practices, ideological divisions and conflicts [as] it is these which decisively shape the sounds and visions of contemporary pop music (Negus, 1992: 154). Bennett (1980), for example, examines looks at how more conventional forms of music come to affect rock musicians in Colorado. He describes how musicians and support personnel struggle to overcome the constraints on their actions enforced by conventions in their art world sometimes successfully and sometimes unsuccessfully. Interestingly, Bennett (1980) was not only taught by Becker but describes him as his most professional critic. As a result of this focus, the micro-sociology of music often takes the form of participant observation based on informal interviews with musicians and support personnel in specific situations and locations (Sanders, 1982). It involves researchers observing people as they make music in natural settings. Typically, such context-specific data is gathered through case-studies, which, Cohen tells us, provide valuable insight into an industry that is notoriously difficult to define and assess, illuminating the complexity of life at this grass-roots level and highlighting the various important issues and processes involved (1991b: 344). In this regard, it is notable that many micro-sociologists of music are also involved in producing music themselves often with the very people they study. Negus, for instance, describes how after years spent flirting on the edge of the music industry, in desperation I became a sociologist (1999: 2). He explains that his research was driven by a desire to understand what I had been through and . . . to figure out why I was now sitting in a library in north London and not recording my latest album in Manhattan (1999: 2). In keeping with the social action tradition described by Dawe (1970), and in contrast to the production of culture perspective outlined above, micro-sociologists explore the social action that is involved in making music. They often focus on the unconventional by looking at how social actors challenge and construct conventions. From this brief description of the production of culture and the micro-sociological research traditions we can see that Beckers (1982) art world framework relates to two very different approaches to studying the production of music. Both draw on the idea that cultural texts are not produced by an artist alone but by a network of actors working within particular material and discursive spaces. However, one approach looks down from the macro-level of the social structure and the other looks up from the micro-level of social action. The difference between the production of culture and micro-sociological approaches is, put otherwise, not just a question of pragmatics such as access to data but also of theoretical perspective. One set of researchers, broadly speaking, focus on the art world as a set of conventional activities determined by social structures, and the other focus on a set of relations determined by unconventional social actions. While this characterization of these research perspectives is crudely drawn, it illustrates that the anything goes approach to studying art worlds allows the framework to be

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appropriated by empirical research that draws on different theoretical perspectives and supports different theoretical conclusions that not only contradict each other but also the theoretical foundation of the art world framework itself. Indeed, as we have seen, in the study of the production of music one research tradition emphasizes the role of structure and other agency, but both see structure and agency as standing in opposition. As we have also seen, though, the art world framework set out by Becker (1982) posits that structure and human agency, to take Sewells comments on structuration theory, presuppose each other (1992: 4, emphasis in original). This leads us to a problem. According to Becker (1986), we should allow empirical studies of art worlds to modify our theoretical models. Should we, as a consequence, revise our opinion of the art world framework in light of either the production of culture perspective or micro-sociological research into the production of music? Did Becker get it wrong in seeing cultural texts as resources that combine into social structures that are themselves created from social action? To paraphrase Wittgenstein (1921), should we use the art world framework as a ladder that we can kick away once we have climbed up it? If so, which perspective should we choose?

The Importance of Language


This problem can be overcome if we insist that, as the art world interprets the production of culture through the relationship between social structure and social action, any methods we use to operationalize the concept must be designed to uncover this relationship. As we have seen, Becker does not explicitly do this in his work. Implicitly echoing Giddenss idea of structuration in the sociological study of culture, Becker (1986: 19) explains that how culture works as a guide in organizing collective action and how it comes into being are really the same process. Cultural texts allow people to interact and are produced by people interacting. Part of studying art worlds, then, becomes exploring exactly how social actions construct social structures as the micro-sociology of music does, and to explore how those social structures, condition social actions, as the production of culture perspective does. Or, to put this another way, the study of art worlds should focus on how conventional arrangements structure unconventional action and how unconventional action creates conventional arrangements. Throughout his work Becker tells us that the language people use when producing cultural texts both reflects the structures that support their conventional arrangements while also allowing actors to challenge those structures. Language use is according to Becker, an analytic wedge that lets us open up the relationship between structure and agency in the production of culture (1986: 147). For illustration of this we can turn to Beckers work on jazz musicians. Becker (1963) describes how these musicians make sense of their activities by dividing their world into cats and squares, and he attributes a specific role for language use in regulating and representing the distinction between these two groups. Put simply, cats see themselves as being different from squares because they speak differently. This difference, though, is not just a matter of vocabulary. It is because the ways these groups speak represents their different worldviews. As Jeffcutt, Pick and Protherough (2000: 130), writing more recently than Becker, explain: When we say of others that they dont speak our language, we mean that they use the same

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words but within a different framework of associations and values that embody different concepts. So cats talk a special language in comparison to squares (Becker, 1951: 144). They speak of things being cool and hip. They combine the image of French bohemian artists with an elaborate vocabulary that describes ignorant fans, demanding managers, varieties of drugs, and the authorities (Lena and Peterson, 2008: 707). This vocabulary covers words that
have grown up to refer to unique professional problems and attitudes of musicians, typical of them being the term square. Such words enable cats to discuss problems and activities for which ordinary language provides no adequate terminology. There are, however, many words which are merely substitutes for the more common expression without adding any new meaning. (Becker, 1951: 143144)

Squares, in contrast, do not understand what cats talk about, just as they do not understand why cats play the music they do when they could more easily play popular tunes and make a more comfortable living (Becker, 1963). Squares, in short, lack both the understanding of, music, the vocabulary and the worldview that cats have. They are the audience who demand popular dance and folk tunes and also the families and friends of musicians who do not appreciate the unconventional behaviour expected of a musician. Collectively they demand that cats play bad music in order to be successful (Becker, 1963: 90) and force a cat to choose between conventional success and his artistic standards (Becker, 1963: 83). Becker tells us that the division of the world into cats and squares is not simply about policing the membership of an artistic community creating an insider group and an outsider group. Rather it is an attempt by jazz musicians, on the one hand, to make sense of the constraints on their actions enforced upon them by the social system (Weick, 1995), in particular the economic imperative that forces them to play bad music, while on the other hand, it is simultaneously an attempt by these jazz musicians to structure the world themselves. The social structures might punish them for playing jazz, but through developing their own vocabulary, it is they who structure their world. They are engaged in a process of self-segregation (Becker, 1963: 100). Becker explains:
The process of self-segregation is evident in certain symbolic expressions, particularly in the use of an occupational slang which readily identifies the man [sic] who can use it properly as someone who is not square and as quickly reveals as an outsider the person who uses it incorrectly or not at all. (1963: 100)

From this reading of Beckers work, we can add further guidance to his general methodological advice that we have outlined above. We should focus on language use. Indeed, Becker (1986: 147) summarizes this point when he remarks that [u]nusual terms or unusual uses of conventional words signal areas of central concern to the people under study and provide an opening analytic wedge, as the term square did in studying musicians. In terms of studying art worlds, this approach allows us to focus on the production of cultural texts through the relationship between social structure and social action. By asking people to explain what they are doing in terms that they naturally use, we can learn about the art world as both a set of conventions and structures, and also as a series of unconventional actions.
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So it is possible to set out a methodology for exploring art worlds that truly takes account of the theoretical foundation of the perspective. Moreover, this method is already present in Beckers work even if he does not explicitly address it for fear of dogmatically prescribing a methodology. For Beckers inheritors, then, we do not have to reject the art world idea on the basis of its methodological contingency. Studying language use offers a method that can explore art worlds from an appropriate theoretical perspective without forcing the world to meet our prior assumptions about it.

Analyzing Language
Yet, simply acknowledging the role of language in facilitating and enacting social structures through social action does not address all of the methodological gaps that Becker leaves in his explanation of art worlds. Having captured evidence of language use within an art world, we are led to a further problem: how can we make sense of such special vocabularies once we have recognized and understood them? On this point, Becker does not offer us assistance but, as we shall see, methods developed in social psychology, organization theory and discourse analysis provide us with techniques that draw on structuration theory. Reviewing these methods can help us to see why particular types of language, that I call art words, are so important in the study of art worlds. But first, let us look at how this focus on language use has been developed in recent studies of art worlds. Taylor and Littleton (2008) offer an example. Their research draws directly on Beckers (1982) work on art worlds and employs tools developed within social psychology and discourse analysis to explore a particular art world. They analyse two interviews conducted with a fashion designer. The first interview takes place when the designer is still a student, the second when she has taken on a job teaching design. They use the art world framework to orientate the multiple possibilities (Taylor and Littleton, 2008: 279) that this particular creative producer draws on to manage her creative identity project (Taylor and Littleton, 2008: 276). In particular, they highlight two contradictory scripts that this creative producer draws on to deal with the challenges of making art and the problem of maintaining a consistent self-image as an artist in the contradictory fields of her cultural production. The first they call art-versus-money, the second money as validation (Taylor and Littleton, 2008: 281). The art-versus-money script is evident when the creative producer they interview attempts to distance herself and her art work from the profit motive. In these instances the failure to make money can even be taken as a marker of artistic success (Taylor and Littleton, 2008: 280). In contrast, the money-as-validation script is evident when the creative producer presents earning money from her creative activities both as a way she can earn a living and as a confirmation of the value of her art and her value as an artist. This was demonstrated when the creative producer spoke as if good art would logically carry a high monetary value (Taylor and Littleton, 2008: 280). Taylor and Littleton conclude that these scripts are not just recognisable, even clichd resources but that they also make available a certain positioning which can be taken up or resisted by cultural producers (2008: 281). In short, these scripts structure an art world in the same way that the vocabularies developed by cats structure their art world. They position some activities as conventional and some as unconventional.

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A similar approach is also used by Strachan (2007: 247), who explores the common discursive constructions that affect and justify aesthetic and industrial practice within the UK music industries. Like Taylor and Littleton (2008), he finds that people working within small-scale record labels draw on well-worn tropes relating to authenticity and commercialism (2007: 247). These discursive formations, Strachan explains, are used by micro-label owners to explain and justify why they are involved in small-scale cultural production, what rewards they gain from such involvement and ultimately what they hope to achieve through it (2007: 250). Such discursive formations help employees in small-scale record companies to position themselves against the music industry and thus against the inherently insidious nature of business (Strachan, 2007: 250). In both the work of Strachan (2007) and Taylor and Littleton (2008) ways of speaking about cultural production, whether we think of them as scripts and discursive formations or as interpretative repertoires, as Potter and Wetherell (1987: 153) call them, allow us to see how contrasting sets of terms can be used in different ways to anchor and orientate social action. In particular, the cultural producers studied by these researchers draw on very similar types of language use to position their activities as unconventional, in that they are set up against the wider culture industry, and conventional, in that their activities are valued in some way. The cultural producers set up this position through their ways of speaking about their art worlds. These ways of speaking are what we, might call art words. In this regard, Oswick et al. (2007) point out that the analysis of language use tells us more than we might think. It not only tells us what people are saying but exposes the relationship people have to what they are describing. Language use does not just reflect the world. It reflects the position a speaker has taken to the world they are describing. For many social psychologists and discourse analysts this means that language use performs the same function as social structures (Potter and Wetherell, 1987: 141). It both opens and closes particular kinds of action. To put this in terms we have used so far, language use plays a part in structuring our worlds. It provides resources from which we structure the world but also allows for innovation, resistance and creative social action. Indeed, it is a structural resource that only exists within social action that is, between speakers. Consequently, the task of discourse analysis is not to apply categories to participants talk, but rather to identify the ways in which participants themselves actively construct and employ categories in their talk, as this allows us to see how language use constructs their world (Wood and Kroger, 2000: 29). So far we have described this through the sociological concept of structuration, but Fairclough (1995: 73) in his important contribution to critical discourse analysis describes it as the dialectic relation between discourse, agency and structure. He explains:
discourse is shaped by structures, but also contributes to shaping and reshaping them, to reproducing and transforming them. These structures are most immediately of a discoursal/ ideological nature orders of discourse, codes and their elements such as vocabularies or turntaking conventions but they also include in a mediated form political and economic structures, relationships in the market, gender relations, relations within the state and within the institutions of civil society such as education. (Fairclough, 1995: 73)

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According to discourse analysts, therefore, language use is a resource which conditions social actions yet is, in turn, a resource out of which social structures are built. Accepting this idea, we can reconceive the cats and squares that Becker analyses as speech communities who share background knowledge that allows them to make sense of and organize their world to feel, as Fairclough (1995: 2728) puts it, that things are as they should be. They use language to mark their alternative social categories and exemplify their different world views by reclaiming existing words and developing new terms (Potter and Wetherell, 1987: 127). For this reason many social psychologists, organization theorists and discourse analysts reject the assumption that there is a world (internal or external) that can be known separately from its construction in discourse (Wood and Kroger, 2000: 28). Talk, Wood and Kroger summarize, creates the social world in a continuous ongoing way. It does not simply reflect what is assumed to be already there (2000: 4). So, having seen recent contributions to the cultural sociology literature draw on the art world framework and employ methods developed in social psychology and discourse analysis, we can now return to the methodological gaps that emerge from a close reading of Beckers work. Earlier we highlighted a number of methodological considerations that Becker raises throughout his work. In the study of art worlds, in particular, we saw that these considerations leave us asking where the boundaries of an art world stand. Language use, we can now see, provides an answer to the problem of drawing boundaries to art worlds. It is through language use that cultural producers draw limits to their art world. In the case of the cats Becker studies, they create a group outside of their art world that they call squares. The cats segregate themselves from squares by creating their own language which includes the term square itself. In keeping with the ongoing relationship between structure and action, this divisions does not mean that the squares have no effect on cats but that this opposition provides a structure for cats activities. For the creative producers Taylor and Littleton (2008) and Strachan (2007) study, particular ways of speaking about their activities also allow them to construct a social structure by positioning themselves against a group who are themselves constructed in the discourse the creative producers use. In all of these cases, it is by structuring their work against a discursively-constructed industry that cultural producers draw boundaries around their own art worlds. The boundaries of art worlds are defined, therefore, by art words that is, by the recognizable vocabularies that provide ways for both creative artists and support personnel to position their activities within an art world.

Conclusion
In this article, I have reviewed Beckers art world framework. We have seen that Becker sets out the art world as a distinctive approach in the study of cultural production. It encourages us to look beyond the work of an individual artist to the network of actors and relationships that let people work together to make art works. However, I have shown how a failure to engage with the theoretical side of Beckers framework has got us into a position where the study of cultural production has built upon Beckers ideas, but also ignored a theoretical foundation of the art world framework. Drawing on examples from the study of the production of music, I have shown how Beckers ideas have been used

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to support work conducted under both a social system and social action perspective. The theoretical perspective behind the art world framework, though, is balanced between both perspectives. I have argued that recognizing this theoretical foundation of the art world framework is the first step to finding more consistent methodologies for the study of cultural production. With this point in mind, I have presented a review of Beckers texts not just on the art world but also on sociological methods. From this review we have uncovered language use as an important analytic wedge for prising open the relationship between social structures and social action. Having looked first at Beckers (1963) analysis of language use among cultural producers, then reviewing some recent contributions to the cultural sociology literature which employ the art world framework and study language use, I have explained how language emerges from social action to produce social structures. Applying this explanation to art worlds allows us to overcome an outstanding methodological problem that we inherit from Beckers work, namely, the problem of drawing limits to an art world. We have seen that it is through language use that cultural producers define their art worlds. Language use makes certain positionings available for them and helps them to establish what is conventional and what is unconventional. It creates borders. I have attempted to reinvigorate a discussion of the ways in which sociologists of culture can use the art world framework to study the production of cultural texts. I have argued that methods from social psychology and discourse analysis, in particular the analysis of language use, offer a powerful way for us to explore how art worlds are structured and restructured, and how the frequently competing artistic and economic logics that structure cultural production are themselves rendered discursively to enable action and to produce structures around that action. What we can call art words are therefore an essential part of the study of art worlds. References
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