Arts Practice as Agency: The Right to Represent and Reinterpret Personal and Social Significance



In this article, the author reframes arts practice as agency, the right to represent and reinterpret personal and social significance in a way that contributes a positive self-valuation. A positive self-valuation in turn becomes a berth for the beneficial habitus of the individual. Bourdieu (1990/ 1999) describes habitus as the locus of the capacity to generate reasonable, common sense behaviors that are beneficial to others. Arts practices are herein theorized as a stock of reasonable, common sense behaviors-making marks, making models, and making "special" aesthetic interventions that signal a person, object, artifact, action, event or phenomenon as uniquely valuable, sacred or life-sustaining. These are behaviors that human agents commonly and continually employ in response to social needs, causes, and the imperative to signify. Given the social significance of arts practice, there is also great potential in a broader application of arts education pedagogy as a force for social transformation. Brent Wilson (2005) sketches out a fundamentally democratic and transactional pedagogical framework that socially responsive and responsible educators can make use of in the cultivation of social justice, the ethical imagination, and the transformation of the systems that ill-define us.


How to Cite: Rolling, J. H. (2011) “Arts Practice as Agency: The Right to Represent and Reinterpret Personal and Social Significance”, Journal of Cultural Research in Art Education. 29(1). doi: