Sarah Thornton

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the sociologist. It is not to be confused with Sara Thornton (disambiguation).
Sarah L. Thornton
Photo by Idris Khan.
Born 1965
Academic background
Alma mater Strathclyde University, Glasgow
Academic work
Main interests Writer and sociologist of culture

Sarah L. Thornton [1] is a writer and sociologist of culture.[2] Thornton writes principally about art, artists, and the art world but has also authored articles and books about dance clubs, raves, cultural hierarchies, ethnographic research and subcultures.

Life and work[edit]

Thornton was born in Canada, lived in London, England, for over 20 years and now resides in San Francisco, CA. Her education comprises a BA in the History of Art from Concordia University, Montreal, and a PhD in the Sociology of Culture from Strathclyde University, Glasgow.[3] Her academic posts have included a full-time lecturership at the University of Sussex, and a period as Visiting Research Fellow at Goldsmiths, University of London. Thornton worked for one year as a brand planner in a London advertising agency.[4] She was the chief writer about contemporary art for The Economist.[5] Thornton has written about the contemporary art market and art world for publications including The Sunday Times Magazine,[6] The Art Newspaper,[7],[8] The New Yorker,[9] The Telegraph,[10] The Guardian,[11] and The New Statesman.[12]



  • Thornton, Sarah (1995). Club Cultures: Music, Media and Subcultural Capital. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press. ISBN 9780745614434. 
  • Thornton, Sarah (2009). Seven Days in the Art World. London: Granta. ISBN 9781847080844. 
  • Thornton, Sarah (2014). 33 Artists in 3 Acts. London: Granta. ISBN 9781783781195. 

Club Cultures analyses the "hipness" of British rave culture and draws upon Pierre Bourdieu's theory of cultural capital. The study responds to earlier works such as Dick Hebdige's Subculture: The Meaning of Style.

Local micro-media like flyers and listings are means by which club organizers bring the crowd together. Niche media like the music press construct subcultures as much as they document them. National mass media, such as tabloids, develop youth movements as much as they distort them. Contrary to youth subcultural ideologies, "subcultures" do not germinate from a seed and grow by force of their own energy into mysterious ‘movements’ only to be belatedly digested by the media. Rather, media and other culture industries are there and effective right from the start. They are central to the process of subcultural formation.[13]

Edited books[edit]

  • Thornton, Sarah; Gelder, Ken (1997). The Subcultures Reader. London New York: Routledge. ISBN 9780415127288. 

Book chapters[edit]

  • Thornton, Sarah L.; McRobbie, Angela (2000) [1991], "Rethinking 'moral panic' for multi-mediated social worlds", in McRobbie, Angela, Feminism and youth culture (2nd ed.), Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Macmillan Press, pp. 180–197, ISBN 9780333770320 
Also as: Thornton, Sarah L.; McRobbie, Angela (December 1995). "Rethinking 'moral panic' for multi-mediated social worlds". British Journal of Sociology (The London School of Economics and Political Science) 46 (4): 559–574. doi:10.2307/591571. JSTOR 591571. 

Critical reception[edit]

Her book Club Cultures: Music, Media, and Subcultural Capital is described by Stuart Hall and Tony Jefferson as "theoretically innovative" and "conceptually adventurous".[14]

The New York Times' Karen Rosenberg said that Seven Days in the Art World "was reported and written in a heated market, but it is poised to endure as a work of sociology...[Thornton] pushes her well-chosen subjects to explore the questions ‘What is an artist?’ and ‘What makes a work of art great?’"[15]

In the UK, Ben Lewis wrote in The Sunday Times that Seven Days was "a Robert Altmanesque panorama of...the most important cultural phenomenon of the last ten years".[16] While Peter Aspden argued in the Financial Times that "[Thornton] does well to resist the temptation to draw any glib, overarching conclusions. There is more than enough in her rigorous, precise reportage… for the reader to make his or her own connections."[17]

András Szántó reviewed Seven Days in the Art World: "Underneath [the book's] glossy surface lurks a sociologist’s concern for institutional narratives as well as the ethnographer’s conviction that entire social structures can be apprehended in seemingly frivolous patterns of speech or dress."[18] In interview, R. J. Preece wrote, "I think Seven Days in the Art World might be the most important book on contemporary art of this time as it makes the art world more transparent, and might lead to reform."[19]

On 26 July 2011, Thornton successfully sued Lynn Barber and The Daily Telegraph for libel and malicious falsehood.[20] Mr Justice Tugendhat, the UK’s most senior media judge, referred to Ms Barber's review of Seven Days in the Art World as a wrongful personal "attack on Dr Thornton". [21] All three of the Telegraph′s attempts to appeal were denied.[22]

External links[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "Thornton, Sarah, 1965-". Virtual International Authority File. Retrieved 22 November 2014. 
  2. ^ 'Website of Sarah Thornton'. Retrieved 28 June 2009
  3. ^ McGlone, Jackie (30 September 2008). "Sarah Thornton - Swimming in shark infested waters". The Scotsman. Retrieved 28 June 2009. 
  4. ^ Thornton, Sarah (19 November 1999). "Advertisements are good for you". Times Higher Education   Business & management. Retrieved 23 November 2014. 
  5. ^ "Books by Economist writers in 2009: What we wrote". The Economist. Retrieved 23 November 2014. Seven Days in the Art World. By Sarah Thornton. Norton; 287 pages; $15.95. Granta; £8.99 How artists become collectable and who rules the art world, by our chief writer on contemporary art. 
  6. ^ Thornton, Sarah (4 October 2009). "Selling art by the shedload". The Sunday Times Magazine (Times Newspapers Limited). pp. 48–53. Retrieved 23 November 2014. (subscription required (help)). His pickled sharks and pill cabinets made him rich and famous. Now he's shelved them and reinvented himself as a serious painter. And it seems Damien Hirst has struck oil all over again. 
  7. ^ Thornton, Sarah (23 October 2008). "In and out of love with Damien Hirst". The Art Newspaper (195). Retrieved 23 November 2014. Making sense of spots, sharks, pills, fish and butterflies. 
  8. ^ Thornton, Sarah (5 November 2006). "Love and money". Retrieved 23 November 2014. 
  9. ^ Thornton, Sarah (19 March 2007). "Letter from London: reality art show". The New Yorker. Retrieved 28 June 2009. The national obsession with the Turner Prize. 
  10. ^ Thornton, Sarah (3 October 2008). "Is art the new gold?". The Telegraph. Retrieved 28 June 2009. (subscription required (help)). 
  11. ^ Thornton, Sarah (5 February 2012). "The art of recession-dodging". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 November 2014. 
  12. ^ Thornton, Sarah (23 October 2008). "Bye-bye to bling for billionaires". The New Statesman. Retrieved 28 June 2009. Art sales have been inflated by super-rich collectors who didn't know what to do with their money. 
  13. ^ Thornton, Sarah (1995). Club cultures: music, media and subcultural capital. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press. p. 117. ISBN 9780745614434. 
  14. ^ Hall, Stuart; Jefferson, Tony (2006) [1975], "Introduction", in Hall, Stuart; Jefferson, Tony, Resistance through rituals: youth subcultures in post-war Britain (2nd ed.), New York, US Oxford, UK: Routledge, pp. xix–xx, OCLC 489757261  ISBN 9781134346530.
  15. ^ Rosenberg, Karen (28 November 2008). "Words worth a thousand paintings". The New York Times  Holiday Gift Guide. Retrieved 23 November 2014. 
  16. ^ Lewis, Ben (5 October 2008). "Seven days in the art world by Sarah Thornton (book review)". The Sunday Times (Times Newspapers Limited). Retrieved 23 November 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  17. ^ Aspden, Peter (8 November 2008). "Smoke and mirrors (book review)". Financial Times. Retrieved 23 November 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  18. ^ Szántó, András (29 October 2008). "Message in a bottle (book review)". ArtWorld Salon. Retrieved 28 June 2009. 
  19. ^ Preece, R. J. (15 June 2009). "Sarah Thornton & Seven Days in the Art World (interview) (2009)". artdesigncafé. Retrieved 2 October 2009. 
  20. ^ Media Lawyer, PA (26 July 2011). "Telegraph in £65k payout over 'spiteful' Barber review". Press Gazette (Progressive Media International). Retrieved 23 November 2014. 
  21. ^ Sarah Thornton v Telegraph Media Group Ltd, The Hon. Mr Justice Tugendhat EWHC 1884 (QB), Case No: HQ09X02550 (England and Wales High Court (Queen's Bench Division) Decisions, [2011] 26 July 2011) (“Sarah Thornton makes two claims in this action: one in libel and one in malicious falsehood. Both claims arise out of a review ("the Review") written by Lynn Barber of Dr Thornton's book "Seven Days in the Art World" ("the Book"). The Review was published in the print edition of the Daily Telegraph dated 1 November 2008, and thereafter in the online edition until taken down at the end of March 2009. The Defendant is the publisher ("the Telegraph")... this claim succeeds.”).
  22. ^ Media Lawyer, PA (24 February 2012). "Telegraph refused appeal over Lynn Barber review libel". Press Gazette (Progressive Media International). Retrieved 23 November 2014.