Seven days in the art world: the academic vs the journalist…

I’m currently reading Seven Days In the Art World, by Sarah Thornton, perhaps most well known for her book about sub-cultural capital and the rave scene. Though I’ve not quite reached the end yet, it’s certainly one of the most enjoyable and accessible books by a sociologist I’ve read in a long time, exhibiting a seemingly endless parade of ethnographic insights into a world I’ve long been curious about without ever coming close to the turgid prose and insider jargon that characterises so many sociological texts. In part this is down to the book’s novel and engaging structure, which the author describes in the video below, as five years of research are condensed into seven ‘days’ i.e. seven narrative essays each centring on a particular ‘place’ in the art world.

However the book was also notable for the very unusual legal case it gave rise to. The Telegraph journalist Lynn Barber, featuring in the book and described in a critical way, wrote a review in which she made a number of accusations against Sarah Thornton. The sociologist immediately complained before eventually suing for libel and malicious falsehood – an action which she subsequently won and which led to an apology from the Telegraph. Does anyone know of other cases like this? Or is it one of a kind?


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