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The logic of distinctions in the Hungarian jazz field: a case study

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 March 2021

Ádám Havas
Milestone Institute (Head of Social Sciences Division), Budapest, Hungary
E-mail address:


This study aims to make the contemporary Hungarian jazz field the focus of a sociological investigation, based on a critical reinterpretation of Bourdieu's relational theory of artistic fields. It aims to grasp the logic of symbolic distinctions by analysing the free/mainstream dichotomy. This dichotomy of historically constituted poles is understood as a system of structuring oppositions that play a decisive role in the position-takings and prestige-construction of jazz musicians. The analysis of qualitative data shows how different evaluations and interpretations of shared musical references are instrumentalised in order to occupy positions in the field. Further, this article argues that such a qualitative analysis of local jazz fields transcends the national context, since culturally hybrid jazz diasporas offer an excellent terrain for analysing how the circulation of transnational artistic references influences the cultural dynamism of local fields that are embedded within global networks of cultural production.

Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

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