Restabilizing attachment to cultural objects. Aesthetics, emotions and biography

Claudio E. Benzecry*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The scholarship on aesthetics and materiality has studied how objects help shape identity, social action and subjectivity. Objects, as 'equipment[s] for living' (Luhmann 2000), become the 'obligatory passage points humans have to contend with in order to pursue their projects (Latour 1991). They provide patterns to which bodies can unconsciously latch onto, or help human agents work towards particular states of being (DeNora 2000, 2003). Objects are central in the long term process of taste construction, as any attachment to an object is made out of a delicate equilibrium of mediators, bodies, situations and techniques (Hennion and his collaborators (Hennion and Fouquet 2001; Hennion and Gomart 1999). In all of these accounts objects are the end result of long-term processes of stabilization, in which the actual material object (a musical piece, a sculpture, an art installation, a glass of wine, the oeuvre of Bach as we know it) is both a result and yet a key co-producer of its own generation. Whereas the literature has been generous and detailed in exploring the processes of assembling and sustaining object-centered attachments, it has not sufficiently engaged with what happens when the aesthetic elements of cultural artifacts that have produced emotional resonance are transformed: what do these artifacts morph into? What explains the transition (or not) of different cultural objects? And relatedly, what happens to the key aesthetic qualities that were so central to how the objects had been defined, and to those who have emotionally attached to them? To answer these questions, this article uses as exemplars two different cases of attachment, predicated on the distinctive features of a cultural object - the transcendence of opera and the authenticity of a soccer jersey - that have undergone transformations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)779-800
Number of pages22
JournalBritish Journal of Sociology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015


  • Aesthetics
  • Affordance
  • Attachment
  • Emotions
  • Materiality
  • Object-biography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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