The Logic of Process Automization
“Dominated by external sources of legitimacy throughout the middle ages, part of the Renaissance and, in the case of French court life, throughout the classical age, intellectual and artistic life has progressively freed itself from aristocratic and ecclesiastical tutelage as well as from its aesthetic and ethical demands. This process is correlated with the constant growth of a public of potential consumers, of increasing social diversity, which guarantee the producers of symbolic goods minimal conditions of economic independence and, also, a competing principle of legitimacy. It is also correlated with the constitution of an ever-growing, ever more diversified corps of producers and merchants of symbolic goods, who tend
to reject all constraints apart from technical imperatives and credentials.Finally, it is correlated with the multiplication and diversification of agencies of consecration placed in a situation of competition for cultural legitimacy: not only academies and salons, but also institutions for diffusion, such as publishers and theatrical impresarios, whose selective operations are invested with a truly cultural legitimacy even if they are subordinated to economic and social constraints.
The autonomization of intellectual and artistic production is thus correlative with the constitution of a socially distinguishable category of professional artists or intellectuals who are less inclined to recognize rules other than the specifically intellectual or artistic traditions handed down by their predecessors, which serve as a point of departure or rupture. They are also increasingly in a position to liberate their products from all external constraints, whether the moral censure and aesthetic programmes of a proselytizing church or the academic controls and directives of political power, inclined to regard art as an instrument of propaganda. This process of autonomization is comparable to those in other realms. Thus, as Engels wrote to Conrad Schmidt, the appearance of law as such, i.e. as an ‘autonomous field’, is correlated with a division of labour that led to the constitution of a body of professional jurists. Max Weber similarly notes, in Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, that the ‘rationalization’ of religion owes its own ‘auto-normativity’—relative independence of economic factors—to the fact that it rests on the development of a priestly corps with its own interests. (…)”