Cultural Organization

Sociology of the Arts

Within the Institute of Sociology and Cultural Organisation the subfield 'Sociology of the Arts', chaired by Prof. Dr. Volker Kirchberg, is the academic home at Leuphana University for integrating sociological teaching and research about structures and processes of the production, dissemination and consumption of arts and culture. The objects of our mainly sociological but also interdisciplinary research are art worlds, art systems and other clusters and  milieus of (institutionalised) art, their causes and their consequences for society in general and for the urban environment in particular. At the center of our work lies the critical interpretation of theoretical foundations and empirical evidence found in different fields and genres of the arts. Different to a narrower definition of 'art sociology' which is mainly focused on a sociology of fine art, we - in accordance with the European Sociological Association Research Network 'Sociology of the Arts' - work among many cultural genres and sectors of the  fine and popular arts and cultures (e.g., museums, popular music industry) and observe and interpret their impacts on cities and other societal areas, e.g., the discourse about cultural sustainability.

The Sociology of the Arts and Culture Unit in Lüneburg teaches, researches and discusses in the fields of culture production, distribution and reception.
These fields of culture are mainly museums, exhibitions and music in high culture – as well as in popular culture. The Sociology of the Arts and Culture in Lüneburg describes and analyses the interdependent environments of the production, distribution and consumption of culture.
Social, political and economic environments influence the contents and forms of culture. In these environments culture is produced, distributed, collected, valued, taught and consumed in various ways.

The Sociology of the Arts and Culture in Lüneburg recognises the importance of the distribution and transmission of culture as situated between the production and consumption of culture.
The sphere of distribution serving the transmission between the production and consumption of culture is based on three competing and co-existing environments: first, cultural markets; second, the public systems of support of culture and, third, non-profit-organisations. Each of these environments has its own structure and motivation; e.g. commercial objectives, political instrumentalisation (also on the part of cities) or an emphasis on the value of cultural production itself.

The Sociology of the Arts and Culture in Lüneburg explains, using research into cultural organisations and urban contexts, how environments affect culture.
Every environment affects structures, contents and changes in cultural institutions. A further focus of the environmental analysis is urban culture, which has become interesting in the context of image, location and general communal politics. ‘Creative cities’, ‘creative industries’, and ‘cultural districts’ are important terms when outlining this topic.

The Sociology of the Arts and Culture in Lüneburg compares variation and change in organisational forms of cultural institutions.
Organisational forms of cultural institutions vary from the traditional cultural administration, with its roots in public cultural policy to cultural management, which plays a central role in cultural production, as transmitted through cultural markets. The reception of culture, which plays a major role in both the museal field (audience research) as well as for the marketing of culture, is a focus important to both research and teaching.

The Sociology of the Arts and Culture in Lüneburg is embedded in the social science and practice-oriented modernisation of Lüneburg’s pioneering program of study in Applied Cultural Sciences.
Given major changes in the fields of cultural production during the last years, it has become necessary to provide a scientific foundation for the central questions in this field. This involves the inter-disciplinary integration of organisational and transmission models into the interface of culture and economy, culture and the city as well as culture and communication.

The Sociology of the Arts and Culture in Lüneburg in its teaching aims at providing students with individual qualifications for careers in cultural fields.
These are, narrowly defined, conceptualisation, execution, development and formatting. In a broader sense they also include administration, sales and marketing as well as the education of scientific personnel. Students obtain a professional qualification for employment in the domains of museums, music, cultural administration, corporate endowments as well as in publishing. Classes taught in English put an emphasis on the international orientation of the subject. The Sociology of the Arts and Culture Unit is conceived as an academic place of teaching and research on the macro, meso and microsociological structures and processes that produce and transmit art and culture and lead to their various receptions. The focus of the sociological perspective on “organisation and distribution of arts and culture...”  is on the models of an interdependent cultural production, distribution and reception.
Culture is the result of cooperation. The product of culture is never merely the product of a single artist. Culture only becomes culture through a collective process of production, distribution and consumption. ‘Distribution and Organisation of Culture’ studies this collective process, its structures and change.
Social, political and economic conditions determine this process. These conditions are constructed by environments, that is through markets, communal and social networks as well as political and other organisational structures. The creation, survival, and disappearance of cultural organisations cannot be reduced to economic factors alone; culture both adapts to and causes social and economic, global and local, demographic and socio-economic, political and social circumstances.

Cultural organisations can be found on local, national and global levels. Their audiences can be defined by class, lifestyle or demographic factors. The analyses of audiences and of organisations go hand in hand. The social analysis of the transmission of culture and the arts is inseparable from the analysis of cultural organisations, and vice versa.

Cultural marketing und communication

Wi­t­hin the In­sti­tu­te of So­cio­lo­gy and Cul­tu­ral Or­ga­nisa­t­i­on this sub­field, chai­red by Prof. Dr. Sig­rid Bek­mei­er-Feu­er­hahn, is com­mit­ted to con­cepts of eco­no­my asm part of so­cie­ty. Using so­ci­al sci­en­ces, cul­tu­ral stu­dies and com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on mo­dels, we scru­ti­ni­se the struc­tu­res and pro­ces­ses wi­t­hin and among cul­tu­ral  and arts in­sti­tu­ti­ons, their de­ci­si­on pro­ces­ses, con­trol pro­ce­du­res, and de­ploy­ments of me­ans. At the cen­ter of our re­se­arch are the re­cent ex­ten­si­ve so­cie­tal, po­li­ti­cal and in­sti­tu­tio­nal chan­ges in arts in­sti­tu­ti­ons, par­ti­cu­lar­ly the pro­ce­du­ral steps re­la­ted to the­se chan­ges, their in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal ana­ly­sis and re­flec­tion, and the spe­ci­fic ty­pes and pro­ces­ses of mcom­mu­ni­ca­ti­on wi­t­hin and among arts  in­sti­tu­ti­ons; we ana­ly­ze the­se chan­ges from the pro­duc­tion and the con­sump­ti­on per­spec­tive.

The team of Prof. Dr. Sigrid Bekmeier-Feuerhahn is concerned with all forms of interaction between cultural organisations and their environment. Starting from modern business studies, interdisciplinary theories and methods from communication sciences, social sciences and cultural studies, as well as psychology are employed. In the light of permanent changes in the cultural landscape, the main research interest lies in the current challenges posed to cultural organisations. The focus is on both the internal and external perspective.

Communication is grasped as a crucial management and control tool that must be consistently embedded in an overall strategy in order to be credible. Therefore, framework conditions such as the political environment, legal requirements, organisational possibilities, and staff-related issues of cultural organisations are taken into consideration as essential fields of cultural management.

In teaching, theory and practice go hand in hand. With a methodological emphasis on the area of empirical research, the following thematic fields, among others, are analyzed based on concrete cultural institutions or projects:
Cultural marketing
Customer experience research, Web 2.0 communication/social media
Recommendation behavior
CSR communication
Change communication