This paper is an effort to understand Hogarth's unique position in early eighteenth century London, so as to grasp the rich complexity of his work. It begins by tracing two rival competing positions in the sociology of art, derived from Becker and Bourdieu, before taking a closer look at how Hogarth's work conjures up a new vision of the world, providing shape and meaning to the nation's changing understandings of morality, society, and the city.
A fundamental transformation in the field of representation appears halfway through the eighteenth century and the interweaving of art theory, national identity, and systems of patronage are at the centre of this dynamic period. It is no accident that in Hogarth's world the main targets are those who seek to transgress their stations in life and cross class barriers. By combining two different sociological approaches to art the study builds a more nuanced picture of the artist and his work.