Parasitic or beneficial?

Over the past century, artists in different mediums have used their art and craft to highlight social issues and other important issues that concern mankind. In the process, the artists or the owners of the artistic content have monetized it and earned profits. Is this parasitic or does this benefit society in any way, which can be measured?

Official response from submitted

Art objects are socially defined/constructed/understood in different ways in different societies. Their qualities (parasitic or otherwise) and social benefits depend on just how their societies define/construct/understand them. In modern capitalist societies, art objects can be entered into market transactions (in societies that think and act via markets  and market mentalities). Then they become subject to market mechanisms of supply and demand. Each art work can be seen as unique and individual and thus non-reproducible. In that case, the supply of that object into a market is rigidly limited to 1 unit once it is produced by the artist. However, the demand for that object can involve countless people who bid against one another to buy it (in an economy like capitalism in which art objects function as commodities to be bought and sold). Then its price can and will rise, thereby "monetizing" the art work and enriching sellers who were able to buy for less than they sell the object.

As to whether to call this parasitic or socially beneficial, why pose it as an either/or? As commodity, the art work enables traders to become rich (i.e. parasitic in this case) without themselves creating or producing anything. Meanwhile if the art object teaches viewers something of social value about  and if the owners permit others to view the art object, it can also be socially beneficially alongside its parasitic monetization.

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  • Sanjay Madhavan
    tagged this with good 2017-01-11 21:57:42 -0500
  • Richard Wolff
    responded with submitted 2017-01-11 12:02:04 -0500
  • Sanjay Madhavan
    published this page in Ask Prof. Wolff 2017-01-11 03:29:56 -0500