Rethinking the center-periphery model: Dimensions and temporalities of macro-structure in a global field of cultural production

Larissa Buchholz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


A central question in the culture and globalization debate has been how global transformations affect center-periphery hierarchies among countries in realms of cultural production. However, hitherto scholarship has tended to approach the center-periphery distinction in unitary terms. This article extends Bourdieu's model of a dual economy in cultural fields to develop a framework of different types and dimensions of country hierarchies. Taking the contemporary visual arts as a case, it demonstrates that linking the dual economy model with the conceptualization of center-periphery hierarchies offers a more fine-grained lens to examine some of their dynamics. Comparing the evolution of hierarchies among countries in the global auction market and global art exhibition space, the article reveals how center-periphery configurations at the commercial and specific cultural pole of an emerging global field diverge. They follow systematically different patterns and temporalities: whereas the auction market exhibits rapid changes—particularly with the rise of China—, culturally based asymmetries in the global exhibition space are marked by slower transformations along generational cycles of longue durée. Although the findings are unique to contemporary art, they indicate that extending Bourdieu's theory may offer tools to go beyond monolithic center-periphery models in cross-border cultural production. It allows to account for the multidimensionality of macrolevel hierarchies as well as their varying logics of change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-32
Number of pages15
StatePublished - Dec 2018


  • Centers and peripheries
  • Contemporary visual art
  • Country hierarchies
  • Cultural globalization
  • Global fields of cultural production
  • Macro-Capital

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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