I was thinking about the class discussions on the art vs. not-art, and low vs. high dichotomies, and I truly think that it is a waste of time to try to categorize everything.
That being said, I think that if we are to attempt to create a definition of art, we have to take into consideration cultural and historical contexts. What was not art yesterday might be considered art today. What is not considered art here might be considered art there. Is it possible that these irrelevant distinctions are an attempt to legitimize certain things over others? Or to create a hierarchy where everyone knows their place?
Anyways, I think that one of the best theories for this topic is symbolic interactionism. This is because symbolic interactionism prioritizes context, and the mutability of meaning for individuals, or as Herbert Blumer states, “The nature of an object…consists of the meaning that it has for the person for whom it is an object, this meaning sets the way in which he sees the object, the way in which he is prepared to act toward it, and the way in which he is ready to talk about it.” This contrasts many definitions that are based on structural functionalist perspectives that endeavor to provide definitions that are derived from the functions of any given mechanism. By avoiding definitions based exclusively on function, we can move past dichotomist arguments and instead see that all discourses in regards to comics are valid and meaningful.
Taking this framework into consideration, it may seem as though the function of comics in society is not quite clear, and that the seemingly apparent high/low dichotomy can be called into question. The way in which something comes to be understood as art is all contingent on interpretation and meaning. As a result there is no way in limiting the use of the word art to materials that produce specific effects or facilitate particular actions as the very meaning of the word is in constant flux.
Applelrouth, Scott, Laura Edles. Destinies: Sociological Theory in the Contemporary Era. Thousand Oaks: SAGE, 2011. Print.