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

The Globalization of Cultural Production and 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 the diverse ways in which artists become valued worldwide.       Artistic practices and media have traveled across borders for centuries, but the book argues that something wholly 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 study’s unique multidimensional perspective demonstrates that globalization in the art field actually follows a divided 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 logic of symbolic recognition and charisma (represented by the global artistic subfield—e.g., art biennials, museums, art criticism) or a logic of commercial exchange. This multidimensional 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, the book’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 thereby illuminates a fundamental sociological difference: that of symbolic vs. market valuation, of “status” vs. “market position.” At its heart, the book reveals how these divisions translate into different temporalities, patterns, and consequences of globalization.

Other publications and ongoing research projects in this line of research engage with the global circulation of cultural genres, global networked coordination among cultural intermediaries, or the territorial and interpretative geographies of transnational cultural flows.

Cultural Consumption and Inequality 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 cultural consumption and inequality. Although social scientists have been increasingly interested in the 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 West-centric focus and explores how elites in rising world economies develop a preference for contemporary art and become significant art collectors. The study advances a new theoretical model concerning how elite cultural preferences and inequalities form at the intersections of national, regional, and global influences, where they can take on different meanings and valences. The project thus redresses a considerable gap in the current scholarship and contributes to a more multidirectional understanding of the dynamics that remake a major cultural market an era of globalization.

Global/Transnational 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 sociology, particularly regarding the advancement of global field theory as a relatively new paradigm in global studies. Buchholz’s work on global field theory introduces the concept of “relative vertical autonomy” as a new concept to theorize the emergence and multi-scalar structure of global fields, advances a Bourdieusian “center-periphery model”, 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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