Sociological traditions, taste and new cultural connections
Culture, media, time use Statistics Finland Helsinki, Finland
The paper discusses the sociological traditions of studying cultural taste and cultural consumption. It asks whether the classical sociological theories of cultural taste connect the reasoning to the hierarchies of past structures modern society. Sociological theories of taste seem often to presume the basic institutions of modern society to be fairly stable, to have clear borderlines and also to be rather similar in different western societies. The belief in trickle down effect of the taste and as well as the supposition of homology between the taste, the class/status position and the way of living are strong. This seems to have led to a certain factualism and over-emphasizing of quantitative data including given and constant genre and taste classifications. The paper discusses also the limitations of importing and exporting theories and cultural classifications and their interpretations and meanings from country to country and/or from continent to another. Sociological studies of cultural taste often also abandon the materiality and affectionality of cultural practices and taste.
Culture is at the moment in the centre of the rhetoric of many international bodies and organizations, and of national policies. The new economical thinking emphasizes countable evidence. The idea of evidence based policy concept has rapidly circulated around the world. The development gives more and more emphasis to quantitative presentations of culture and cultural consumption as part of comprehensive economical frameworks and ?creative economy?. The paper discusses the paradox that in spite of the common emphasis on quantitative data the sociological research on cultural consumption and taste seem not to have any comment on this new powerful development.
The paper claims that in everyday world the traditional borderlines and hierarchies are changing or even collapsing. Boundaries of work and leisure, production and consuming are fading and the origin of taste and it?s uses in society are in a process of altering. In consequence the notions of cultural capital and legitimate taste need be re-thought and re-defined. The challenge is to find out tools and interpretations for grasping new forms of power and new forms of connectivity.