Literature in ebooks

Literature sociology is the science of the social and cultural conditions of the production, distribution and adoption of literature.
While most literature theories recognise the Verwiesenheit of the individual author on the social conditions of his creating (with important exceptions in the Russian formalism, in the New Criticism, in the Strukturalismus and in the Dekonstruktion), the literature sociology examines the influence of class, gender and political interest of an author, the ‘spirit of the times’ of a specific epoch, for the economic basic conditions of the author’s state and the book trade as well as for the social allocation and the values of literary addressee and recipients. There the interpretation of literary criticism and literature interpretation comes in consideration of her social basic conditions.

Besides, basis is the problematic effigy relation of e-book and society. If the literature is interpreted as a pure reflexion of a society, her claim to aesthetic autonomy gets lost; if the art is completely autonomous, however, all sociological questions lapse to them.

A medial position between both extremes takes the literature theory Adornos: just because art negates the society radically, the state of a society can be read with the help of that what she negates specifically – she is at the same time autonomous and bailiff social.

Moreover an alternative is Bourdieus a theory of the literary field. Bourdieu assumes from the fact that between the literary creating of an actor, his habituellen perception and judgement of the social world as well as his social status position a narrow connection exists which can be grasped theoretically as a Strukturhomologie.

An other variant of modern literature sociology which trades under the concept of the system-theoretical literature and is to be calculated to also the empiric literature tries to describe the literature company and his authorities as an action or communication system.

Literature is also often analysed under the aspect of the utopia: it is not understood as a description of that what is the society, but what she should be.


Hippolyte Taine explains in his history of the English literature (1863) literary works by the appeal on three factors: the ‘race’ of his author, to his geographic and social ‘environment’ and his historical ‘moment’.

However, only at the beginning of the 20th century, with the development of general methodologies of the sociology, e-book-sociological subjects find systematic treatment, possibly in the analyses Georg Simmels, Max of weaver and Georg Lukács’ which found, however, only low resonance on the real e-book-scientific research. This destiny was also given to Arnold Hausers to important contribution to the social history of the art and e-book (1953).

Influenced by the public-sociological theses Robert Escarpits Alphons Silbermann undertook in the 1960th the empiric and statistical investigation of the ebook distribution, ebook production and ebook adoption and the aesthetic intrinsic value of the literary piece of art remains faded out. This moves later in the centre of the interest of Lucien Goldmann and Pierre Bourdieu who are valid as a general agent of a genetic Strukturalismus within the ebook sociology and associate aspects of horizontal as well as vertical differentiation with each other.

In the works of the Frankfurt school, particularly from Walter Benjamin and Theodor W. Adorno, the piece of art becomes the ‘historical-philosophical solar clock’ which expresses the respective historical level of development of a society especially clearly.

In the today’s research Marxist and feminist literature theories are marked particularly by the literature-sociological questions which find her purest expression in the New Historicism. Also theorists of the system theory, the semiotics or the discourse analysis try to win connection in literature-sociological questions.

The interest kursorische only over and over again of the sociology in i. e. S. to literature-sociological questions (in quite a jobless research field) has led all together to the fact that since the 1970s a substantial literature-sociological enlargement of the field of vision and the analyses within the literature has taken place.


One calls theory of the literary field, to sum up, the scientific publications of the French cultural sociologist Pierre Bourdieu (1930-2002) to all questions which argue with the literature sociology and her specific questions. Bourdieus literature-sociological main work Les règles de l’art. Genèse et structure you champ litteraire which combines all knowledge won to date in a monograph comes from 1992 and lies since 1999 in Ger. translation under the title The rules of the art. Genesis and structure of the literary field before. It deals with the formation and Autonomisierung of the literary field in France of the 19th century and has got to know during the last years also in the German-speaking literature, in particular in the Romance studies and the German studies, a positive resonance and has led to connection researches and advancements.

Central elements of the Bourdieuschen theory of the literary field are the disposition theory and field theory, the capital theory, the draught of relative autonomy as well as the theory of the social space. Between these theory stones exist complicated relations and interaction which delivers in her totality a model of the functionality of the literature company which can be applied on all development stages more fashionably of literary communication and has set up meanwhile than independent literature-scientific method and has put through.

Social space and capital
With the help of the social space concept the structure of the distribution should be grasped at first sight more invisibly of social resources empirically as well as statistically. Besides, most important of those social resources Bourdieu conceives as an economic capital, so personal cash value property or also finance capital in the farthest sense, cultural capital, speak individual, officially sanctioned or only internalised educational stocks, social capital, so friendship relations and interpersonal respect net, as well as, finally, as a symbolic capital, i.e. as a reputation or as a collective recognition of a certain social actor and his remaining capital resources by a bigger number of him to the perceiving and judging actors who are involved on the same field. The strategies of the actors, i.e. on the literary field, for example, the design elective by an author of the literary works in more stylistic as material regard, are decisively influenced by their possession about the capital kinds. Besides, the trend insists on taking one against the dominating mainstream, i.e. a position directed against the just ruling orthodoxy with relatively low socioeconomic status which Bourdieu with the neutrally meant concept of the ‘Häresie’ characterises.

Concerning the modern literary field of France which is thought as since middle of the 19th century from the outside quite independent subrange on each other referring and with each other in competition of standing social actions Bourdieu distinguishes further three non-geographical or non-physical space concepts: the space of the positions, the space of the possibilities as well as the space of the works.

The space of the positions grasps the social situation of all actors engaged in the literary field on the basis of her capital structure, i.e. concerning her possession about the abovementioned capital forms and the position arising from it in the society which is understood as stratifiziert and hierarchisiert. Besides, one can show the space of the positions as a two-dimensional co-ordinate system whose Y axis gives the sum of all capitals of an actor, while the x axis merely on the proportional relation between the economic and cultural capital reserve of the same actor rekurriert, so that ‘rather wealthy can be distinguished as educated’ actors from ‘rather educated than wealthy’ actors. Besides, the space of the positions is conceived not as a stiff structure, but as a highly dynamic, historically changeable network by interactor relations, which is why one can add Bourdieu also to the Poststrukturalismus.

Space of the works Bourdieu calls that discursive sphere in which the literary works which are also understood as an artistic position or statements are communicated in a more or less publicly accessible area. Besides, literary pieces of art can be categorised, according to research interest, along thematic and stylistic differences and systematise and also is valid here that one deals with an extremely dynamic structure.

Strukturhomologie between the space of the positions and the space of the works
Central theorem of the theory of the literary field is the acceptance that between the space of the positions and the space of the works one exists about the space of the possibilities provided Strukturhomologie. This means that the relative social distances of the authors resemble together the relative distances concerning the content like formal design of the works together. Depending on how in the possession about the abovementioned capital forms readable social situation of a certain literature producer develops at a certain time, prove determined itself, the spectrum of possible play trains in the space of the possibilities qualifying compulsions, but also chances concerning the concrete thematic or stylistic arrangement of literary products which can be consequently more economically, more culturally, more socially and / or symbolic nature. These are perceived in the space of the possibilities to stored compulsions and chances about the disposition structures of the acting actors who enclose collectively divided experiences specific for layer as well as individual experiences in a system of relatively lasting arrangements, but not strictly determine on which artistic action possibility an actor engaged in the literary field decides.

Relative autonomy of the literary field
Another core stone of the theory of the literary field is to be seen in Bourdieus concept of relative autonomy. The literary field of France has won itself in the course of the 19th century up to a certain degree of independence of external economic, political, religious and institutional compulsions from which, nevertheless, nobody can foresee, how long this will still continue. Also there are within the literary field absolutely differently very distinctive Autonomisierungsgrade.

Thus stands in the artistic pole of the literary field which is congruent about with the concept of the height comb literature, not primarily economic profit, but literary fame or, as Bourdieu formulates it, specifically literary symbolic capital in the centre of the interest and the actors can afford this negation of worldly profits often because they are financially independent and must not live from her ebook production. Accordingly the economic profit maximisation logic of the economy is cancelled here practically and the autonomy degree is high accordingly. In the other pole of the field, the unterfield of the mass production against it do not count literary mastery and the recognition of the professional audience, but merely edition figures and profit statistics. Accordingly the authors to the public taste will submit here and write this what the readers can consume most lightly and shop soonest. Therefore the literary field surrenders in this area which corresponds quite exactly to the more familiar concept of the trivial ebooks, a large part of his independence in favour of the economic profit maximisation logic and bends with it to field-external claims, so that the originally literary strategies of the cultural producers become in this sector economically überformt. ebooks is not written in this area any more after purely aesthetic graduations, but is dictated in her state above all by the mass taste what as influences of course the material choice as the formal creation of the literary works.

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