Buchholz research centers on three main areas: the globalization of cultural production/art markets, cultural consumption within a global context, and transnational/global theorizing.

The Globalization of Cultural Production/Art Markets

A central line of Buchholz’s substantive research engages with the globalization of cultural production and art markets. Her recent book, The Global Rules of Art (Princeton University Press, 2022) examines the emergence of a global cultural field and how visual artists from formerly colonized or “peripheral” countries reach worldwide recognition after centuries of exclusion and discrimination.

Artistic practices and media have traveled across borders for centuries, but the book argues that something new has emerged in the new millennium—a global cultural field that, for the first time, involves an institutional configuration for sustained cross-continental cultural flows and exchanges. Given this background, the study engages with a central puzzle in interdisciplinary debates about culture and globalization: As globalization leads to extraordinary cross-border flows and the transcontinental valuation of cultural goods, will these dynamics merely extend the dominance of cultural producers from a few Western countries, or will they enable the greater recognition of creators from “non-Western”locations and thus increase cultural diversity?

Previous scholars may have looked at these questions as an either/or dilemma, but the book’s unique multidimensional perspective demonstrates that globalization in the art field actually follows a “dual economy.” The book makes the case that different conditions shape the recognition process of “non-Western” artists and cultural diversity in globalizing subfields that are oriented around a commercial logic of exchange (represented by the global auction market) or a logic of symbolic recognition and charisma (represented by the global artistic subfield—e.g., art biennials, museums, art criticism).

This dual-economy framework—and the varying motivations and dynamics that characterize it—challenges any simple dichotomies between the “West” and “non-West,” or the “Global South” and the “Global North.” At the same time, Buchholz’s approach underscores how important it is to theorize the institutional diversity in globalizing cultural realms to identify the multiple logics and processes by which they work, and change can be affected. The Global Rules of Art therefore illuminates a fundamental sociological difference: that of “market position” and “status,” of market and symbolic valuation. At its heart, the book reveals how these divisions translate into different temporalities, patterns, and consequences of globalization. For more information, see the dedicated section on this website.

Other publications and ongoing research projects in this line of research engage with theorizing center-periphery inequalities in the global cultural arena, the traveling of genres in global cultural markets, global networks and coordination among cultural intermediaries, or the geographies and complexities of transnational cultural flows.

Cultural Consumption within a Global Context

Buchholz’s new book project, Kaleidoscopic Tastes in a Global Cultural Market (working title), expands her interest in valorization by turning from the perspective of cultural mediation to art consumption. Although social scientists have been increasingly interested in the contemporary art market, existing research has largely ignored the growth of art collectors outside traditional market centers in the US and Western Europe. The project, which draws from fieldwork in the Middle East, China and India, moves beyond this prevailing West-centric focus and explores how elites from rising world economies become invested in contemporary art to the extent that they spend substantial sums, even millions, on it. Theoretically, the study aims to advance a new model of preference formation in global cultural markets. The book thereby redresses a considerable gap in the current scholarship and contributes to a more multidirectional understanding of the dynamics that remake a major cultural market in an era of globalization.

Transnational/Global Theorizing – Globalizing Field Theory

Based on insights from her substantive research, Buchholz’s work also engages with broader theoretical and methodological questions of global/transnational theorizing, particularly regarding the advancement of global field theory as a relatively new paradigm in global/transnational studies. Buchholz’s work on global field theory introduces the concept of “relative vertical autonomy” as a new angle to theorize the emergence and multi-scalar structure of global fields, advances a Bourdieusian “center-periphery model” beyond world-systems analysis and refines the idea of “asymmetric interdependencies” from a field theoretical perspective. Her publications also discuss the utility of analogical theorizing, causal mechanisms and real type concepts for global/transnational theorizing.

Larissa Buchholz. 2018. Webinar on Transnational Theorizing for the Critical Realism Network, Yale University

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