Culture as a vocation : sociology of career choices in cultural management


Culture as a vocation : sociology of career choices in cultural management

Vincent Dubois ; with the collaboration of Victor Lepaux ; translated from the French by Jean-Yves Bart

(Culture, economy and the social)

Routledge, 2019

  • : pbk

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Originally published: Paris : Liber/Raisons d'agir, 2013

This translation originally published: 2016

Includes bibliographical references (p. [131]-141) and index



Vocational occupations are attractive not so much for their material rewards as for the prestige and self-fulfillment they confer. They require a strong personal commitment, which can be subjectively experienced in terms of passion and selflessness. The choice of a career in the cultural sector provides a good example of this. What are the terms of this calling? What predisposes individuals to answer it? What are the meanings of such a choice? To answer these questions, this book focuses on would-be cultural managers. By identifying their social patterns, by revealing the resources, expectations and visions of the world they invest in their choice, it sheds new light on these occupations. In these intermediary and indeterminate social positions, family heritages intersect with educational strategies, aspirations of upward mobility with tactics against downward mobility, and social critique with adjustment strategies. Ultimately the study of career choices in cultural management suggests a new take on the analysis of social reproduction and on the embodiment of the new spirit of capitalism. The empirical findings of this research conducted in France are set in a broader comparative perspective, at the European level and with the USA.


Introduction 1. Culture in the Space of Career Choices 1.1. How Cultural Occupations Became Attractive 1.1.1. The Rise of Cultural Employment 1.1.2. Cultural Managers: Professional labels and vocations 1.1.3. An Attractive Sector Despite Poor Employment Conditions 1.1.4. The Attraction of Uncertainty 1.2. Training and the Genesis of Vocations 1.2.1. The Development of Specialized Training Programs in Cultural Management 1.2.2. The Structured of the Specialized Training Supply 1.2.3. The Effects of the Specialization of Training 2. Who Wants to be a Cultural Manager? 2.1. A Largely Feminine Vocation 2.2. Higher Social Backgrounds 2.3. Educated Applicants 2.4. Well-Rounded Applicants 2.5. The Space of Applicants 3. The Meanings of a Career Choice 3.1. Leaving Doors Open 3 1.1. A Genuine Choice 3.1.2. The Narratives of Vocation 3.1.3. Choosing the Cultural Sector Rather Than a Given Occupation 3.2. A Third Way between Art and Teaching 3.2.1. Teaching as a Foil 3.2.2. The Artistic Vocation as a Reference 3.3. The Social Rationales of a Career Choice 3.3.1. Dreams of Social Mobility 3.3.2. Professional Reproduction 3.3.3. A Devalued Cultural Capital and a Reinvested Educational Capital 3.3.4. Self-Assertion 4. Intermediary Dispositions and Adjustment Strategies 4.1. Between Cultural Legitimism and Eclecticism 4.2. Reinvesting the Artist's Life 4.2.1. Re-Enchanting Work 4.2.2. The New Spirit of Capitalism Embodied 4.2.3. A Different Form of Political Awareness Conclusion

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