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The multiplicity of highbrow culture: Taste boundaries among the new upper middle class

Bellavance, Guy (2016). The multiplicity of highbrow culture: Taste boundaries among the new upper middle class In: Routledge International Handbook of the Sociology of Art and Culture. Routledge, New York, p. 324-336.

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The goal ofthis chapter is to question this observed eclecticism - or 'omnivorousness', in the expression popularized by R.A. Peterson - in light of the results of a study I conducted in Quebec (Canada) on art lovers and cultural consumers among the upper middle class.2 One of the principal objectives of this inquiry was precisely to study the relation between professional and cultural worlds: In what ways does professional status determine one's cultural sphere? And up to what point do these two worlds cohere? Another equally important objective was to establish for this population the criteria considered relevant in matters of taste: Is the long-standing high/low distinction the most determining factor in the expression of taste, or do other classificatory schemes play a more significant role? This led to an exploration of a double complexity: that of the cultural uni verse of the elite, which is actually far more heterogeneous than one may assume a prfori; and that of the multiplicity of syrnbolic 01arkers that underlie the process of taste legitinùzation. In this chapter, I first turn to this question of eclecticism and omnivorousness among the new elite classes. Next, 1 prescnt the principal variations from the cultural universe of the study's sample with regard to participants' affiliations with different professional spheres. Making a connection between taste and social status leads to an analysis of two difficulties that arise from this effort. The first relates to the intcrference surrounding the true social status of participants, given the complexity oftheir occupational and lifc trajectories; the second concerns the bhtrring ofhigh/low distinction, based on the abundance of classificatory schemes used by the participants to define and justify their preferences for certain cultural 'items' inside their repertoires of taste. The analysis of this double complexity ultimately allows revealing the multiple meanings assumed by cultural eclecticism today.

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Centre: Centre Urbanisation Culture Société
Date de dépôt: 09 juin 2017 18:03
Dernière modification: 09 juin 2017 18:03
URI: http://espace.inrs.ca/id/eprint/5277

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