Creativity as the exchange of symbolic capital in the transactions between an art teacher and his senior art students

Year: 2002

Author: Thomas, Kerry

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper, reporting on a current qualitative study, investigates creativity as an exchange of symbolic capital in transactions between an art teacher and his senior students who are making artworks for the NSW HSC Visual Arts Examination.

Following Pierre Bourdieu's theories of the habitus and symbolic capital, the study mounts a challenge to more conventional views of creativity. It argues that the micro-history and peculiarities of the cultural context and the linguistic exchanges between the art teacher and students at moments of creative origination may be highly significant to conceptions of creativity. It asserts that in the exchanges of symbolic capital between the teacher and his students, his agency will be misrecognised in his own and their thinking, actions and artworks. Further it claims that students' artworks will evidence degrees of originality that vary consistently with the subtlety of misrecognition transacted in these exchanges.

The study identifies the teacher's critical function as a creative and intentional presence in the students thinking and performances and in the artefacts they produce. It concludes that there are very good social reasons why this misrecognition occurs which cannot be reduced to low inference explanations. The design, methods and emergent results of the study will be reported.