Throughout “Philosophies of Taste: Aesthetic and Nonaesthetic Senses” in Making Sense of Taste: Food and Philosophy, Kersmeyer hits on a few really interesting ideas. Among them is the notion that “good taste” might only come from the educated “palate” but that these tastes don’t just apply to food, but also Art, music, etc. Also, towards the end of reading, in the section titled “Aesthetic Tast and Gustatory Taste Revisited,” Kersmeyer states: “By this analysis, philosophies of taste posit the traits of universal human nature by generalizing about an ideal member of a privileged, educated class, who is held to represent the whole of human nature, or human nature at its ‘best.’ Insofar as these theoriess are guilty of such a move, philosophies of Taste obscure the differences among people of different classes, locations, generous.” Korsmeyer continues the discussion with explaining Bourdieu’s philosophy about taste being influenced by class.

In her dissertation at the University of Manchester, Beethoven or Britney? A sociological exploration of music taste, cultural consumption and social class, Alicia Dunning attempts to answer the question of whether Bourdieu’s conjecture that musical taste results from cultural and class influence, still exists today.

Dunning collected focus groups to discuss musical taste, and provided questions to those groups for them to address, but aside from that, attempted to stay as uninvolved as possible in the conversation so as to prevent bias, and allow for a more free and interesting conversation in the focus group. She collected her participants by contacting initial participants and then having them invite people to join the study, in hopes that they would bring people of similar interests to them to have focus groups with similar cultural backgrounds. As she states on on page 15, she had participants choose a song that they thought defined their taste in music, and a piece with particular meaning to them. Her findings were really interesting. She found first off that there were very clear examples where her participants could site that some of their musical tastes were coming from their parents, but also that parents in general showed a desire to pass on different parts of their culture. There was a discussion that the middle class parents try to pass on part of the “highbrow” culture to their children at a young age, but that this same phenomenon does not happen with those of the lower social class. Dunning continues to address many different angles, but to summarize her findings, she did find a very clear difference in taste of music between classes in her participants, and found that there was certainly a handing down of tastes from generations and culture which influenced personal taste in music.

This all seems to support the side of the argument that taste is not a purely aesthetic taste, but instead one that is influenced greatly by culture, experience, and education in the matter of what makes “good taste.”


Beethoven or Britney? A sociological exploration of music taste, cultural consumption and social class.


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