Warde, A. (2008) ‘Dimensions of a social theory of taste’, Journal of Cultural Economy, 1(3), pp. 321-336.


This paper draws upon and draws together some key propositions made in this special issue of the Journal of Cultural Economy on cultural consumption, classification and power. Based on reconsiderations of Pierre Bourdieu's Distinction, it seeks ways give greater coherence to social theories of taste. It suggests that evaluations of Distinction depend in part on whether critics are concerned with understanding taste formation, judgments of taste, or justifications of taste. Exploring this, it first discusses the generalizability of the analysis presented in Distinction, focussing on criticisms of the main concepts deployed -- habitus, cultural capital and legitimate culture. Finding them insufficient in themselves, the paper proceeds to examine analytical approaches to changing patterns of taste, to social class and judgments of social standing based upon tastes, and to the making of aesthetic justifications of cultural practice. The consequences for a research agenda in the sociology of culture and the theoretical understanding of taste are outlined.

Link to full article