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Studying the sociology of art throughout history is the study of the social history of art, how various societies contributed to the appearance of certain artists.
In her 1970 book Meaning and Expression: Toward a Sociology of Art, Hanna Deinhard gives these defining features of a sociology of art: "The point of departure of the sociology of art is the question: How is it possible that works of art, which always originate as products of human activity within a particular time and society and for a particular time, society, or function -- even though they are not necessarily produced as 'works of art' -- can live beyond their time and seem expressive and meaningful in completely different epochs and societies? On the other hand, how can the age and society that produced them be recognized in the works?"
^Deinhard, Hanna (1970). Meaning and Expression: Toward a Sociology of Art. Boston: Beacon Press. p. 3.
Jean-Marie Guyau, L’art au point de vue sociologique (1889).
Deinhard, Hanna, Meaning and Expression: Toward a Sociology of Art. Beacon Press, Boston, 1970. ISBN 0-8070-6664-8
Becker, Howard S., The epistemology of qualitative research. University of Chicago Press, 1996. 53-71. [from Ethnography and human development : context and meaning in social inquiry / edited by Richard Jessor, Anne Colby, and Richard A. Shweder]