9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN05 Sociology of Consumption

2009-09-05 09:00:00 2009-09-05 10:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 09:00 - 10:30 Consumption of Arts Building II, C5.02

Social Stratification and Cultural Preferences: National Cultural Capital and Taste in Music in Israel

Most research on social stratification and cultural preferences conceptualizes cultural capital as a universal repertoire of art works and genres ("high art"), whose consumption, or familiarity with, can confer social prestige. This conceptualization was criticized for being too narrow, as more and more cultural forms are recognized as potential cultural capital in a range of social contexts (e.g. "popular cultural capital", "subcultural capital" and "Multicultural capital").

My paper deals with another potential kind of cultural capital, namely National Cultural Capital. This term refers to the specific cultural capital and habitus which define natural membership in the national culture. It raises the question whether in immigration societies another dimension of inequality is formed around cultural items that can define belonging to the national collective.

Using new survey data from 2007 (N=411), I have investigated the associations between musical preferences and social position among adult Jews in Israel, focusing on the three main local genres struggling over the definition of the desired form of "Israeliness" in the field of popular music in Israel.

Two main findings are emphasized:
(1) Hierarchy exists within genres as well as between genres; a fractal pattern can be discerned. However, the associations between stratification variables and musical taste indicators do not perfectly match the accepted division between "high" and "low" art/music.
(2) Liking Songs-of-the-Land-of-Israel (one of the genres) is statistically associated with liking "high" music. Although SLI is considered folk music, not part of the traditional "high" arts, it enjoys a unique symbolic status in Israel. This might indicate that the elitist group is inclusive (omnivore) rather than exclusive (univore), but its inclusiveness is limited to canonical popular genres and musicians. It is not as boundaries-crossing (a mixture of "high" and "low") as is implicated by Peterson's Omnivore-Univore theory.