Ugly, dirty and bad: working class aesthetics reconsidered

Asteriti, A. (2014) Ugly, dirty and bad: working class aesthetics reconsidered. Law and Literature, 26(2), pp. 191-210. (doi:10.1080/1535685X.2014.928500)

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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1535685X.2014.928500

Abstract

This article, taking at its starting point the work of Pier Paolo Pasolini, tackles the aesthetic of the working class as an object d'art: how is the aesthetic sense of those who do not belong to the working class, but claim a political interest in its destiny, engaged by the outward appearance of the working class? And, more specifically, has there been a shift from a sense of aesthetic appreciation to what this author perceives as revulsion towards Western working classes? Has our aesthetic gaze wandered off, in search of more distant objects? It is not our goal to answer these questions by means of a quantitative or qualitative sociological analysis, and to this extent, the answers have to be taken as given. The article argues that there is a displacement of our gaze towards the working classes in the developing world, resulting in yet another form of consumption (the campaigns for fair trade would not be so successful without the picture-perfect – and picture-perfect because so completely desolate and objectively poor – sweatshops and small children in the fields). This displacement is not at all innocent. The article will propose that there are legal consequences – by using, and subverting, Luhmann's remark on legal taste; political consequences, where displacement means invisibility and lack of voice; and social consequences, mirroring Pasolini's horror at the cultural genocide, and now looking at the desolate spaces it has left behind.

The article intends to focus on the aesthetic of the working class as an object d’art: how is the aesthetic sense of those who do not belong to the working class, but claim a political interest in its destiny, engaged by the outward appearance of the working class? And, more specifically, has there been a shift from a sense of aesthetic appreciation to what this author perceives as revulsion towards Western working classes? Has our aesthetic gaze wandered off, in search of more distant objects? It is not our goal to answer these questions by means of a quantitative or qualitative sociological analysis, and to this extent, the answers have to be taken as given. The article argues that there is a displacement of our gaze towards the working classes in the developing world, resulting in yet another form of consumption (the campaigns for fair trade would not be so successful without the picture-perfect – and picture-perfect because so completely desolate and objectively poor – sweatshops and small children in the fields). This displacement is not at all innocent . The article will propose that there are legal consequences – by using, and subverting, Luhmann’s remark on legal taste; political consequences, where displacement means invisibility and lack of voice; and social consequences, mirroring Pasolini’s horror at the cultural genocide, and now looking at the desolate spaces it has left behind.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Published as Alessandra Asteriti (2014) Ugly, Dirty and Bad: Working Class Aesthetics Reconsidered, Law & Literature, 26:2, 191-210. © 2014 by The Cardozo School of Law of Yeshiva University. Copying and permissions notice: Authorization to copy this content beyond fair use (as specified in Sections 107 and 108 of the U. S. Copyright Law) for internal or personal use, or the internal or personal use of specific clients, is granted by The Cardozo School of Law of Yeshiva University for libraries and other users, provided that they are registered with and pay the specified fee via Rightslink® on JSTOR (http://www.jstor.org/r/ucal) or directly with the Copyright Clearance Center, http://www.copyright.com.
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Asteriti, Dr Alessandra
Authors: Asteriti, A.
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BH Aesthetics
J Political Science > JC Political theory
K Law > K Law (General)
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Law
Journal Name:Law and Literature
Journal Abbr.:Law Lit.
Publisher:University of California Press
ISSN:1535-685X
ISSN (Online):1541-2601
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2014 The Cardozo School of Law of Yeshiva University
First Published:First published in Law and Literature 26(2):191-210
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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