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Artistic Production and Social Control

Steven C. Dubin
Social Forces
Vol. 64, No. 3 (Mar., 1986), pp. 667-688
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.2307/2578818
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2578818
Page Count: 22
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Artistic Production and Social Control
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Abstract

Artistic expression is shaped in specific ways when creative producers are employed by their governments. This paper examines the experiences of artists participating in the cultural components of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in the 1930s, and the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) in the 1970s-1980s. In the earlier period, the explicit censorship of products was necessitated by the relative inexperience of artists and bureaucratic organizations working with one another. Recently, however, such dramatic instances have been less frequent: explicit censorship is not often necessary when producers are effectively enmeshed within bureaucratic structures. Implicit controls can anticipate and check problems in process before they emerge into public view. These derive from the organizational characteristics of both sponsoring and allied agencies, informally conveyed notions of "what is and what is not done," uncertainty over continued funding, and deference to professional notions of conduct. Emergency measures of control betray a position of organizational weakness, and are not generally necessary. Finally, the ways in which artists have been mobilized to extend the social control of the state-a supportive rather than oppositional stance-are also detailed.

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