Rethinking the aesthetic experience is an urgent task to which sociology is called. Sociology intent on exploring the aesthetic foundations of the social bond needs at least to debate that the aesthetic is not exclusively reducible either to a surface veil that hides power relations, or to pure aestheticism, i.e. transient and narcissistic projections of individual impulses. The essay brings to light the main features of aesthetic experience through two readings, that of Simmel and of Durkheim. Their insights are used in the analysis of an empirical case study, the events of the Festival of Europe in Florence. In particular, the author identifies, among Festival activities, three “exemplary events” which reflect main features of the aesthetic experience: frame, rhythm and the imaginary. The concluding reflection concerns the role of these features in building an “aesthetic public sphere”.
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