Analysing Taste

I am General Editor of The Persistence of Taste: Art, Museums and Everday Life After Bourdieu, with Dave Beech, Michael Lehnert, Carol Tulloch and Stephen Wilson. The volume is divided into four sections on ‘Taste and art’, ‘Taste making and the museum’, a case study of transnationalism in taste ‘Taste after Bourdieu in Japan’ and a final section on ‘Taste, the home and everyday life’.  This book asks why we still value our personal sense of taste in the twenty-first century, when cultural distinctions between ‘highbrow’, ‘middlebrow’ and ‘lowbrow’ culture seem to matter less and less.  Distinctions of taste have allowed us to live within commercial society while placing trust in ourselves before we trust the brands, products and services that surround us. While our personal tastes seem to give us autonomy and control over our lives in a world of proliferating choices, the advent of algorithms to assist us in making these choices could mean that we are losing some of this sense of controlling the parameters of our identity through taste.

In Western Europe and America in the last century, discussion of taste was dominated by the work of the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu.  This book offers an interdisciplinary analysis of the social practice of taste in the wake of Bourdieu’s sociology of taste. ‘The Persistence of Taste’ was developed out of the 2014 ‘Taste After Bourdieu’ conference at Chelsea College of Arts, UAL.  For the first time with this book, sociologists are united with artists and art educators, art historians, design historians, curators, art theorists and cultural historians, who engage with the practice of taste as it relates to encounters with art, engagements with cultural institutions and the practices of everyday life in national and transnational contexts.

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