All Taste Is Acquired Taste (Pierre Bourdieu) -Discuss

Topics: Sociology, Culture, Aesthetics Pages: 4 (1456 words) Published: August 1, 2008

To say that all taste is acquired taste is to say that in expressing a preference for a particular food, style of dress or type of music we are expressing an entirely culturally learned system of values. In Western society 'good taste ' is seen to be the domain of the upper classes. In other words the symbols appropriated by the economically and socially successful are the ones that are ascribed the most worth. Sahlins(1976) argues that the value which American society gives to steak cannot simply be explained by the practical rationality of appropriating scarce resources. It is "symbolic logic which organises demand". He points out that in terms of nutrition steak is not superior to cheaper cuts such as tripe and tongue, and in fact because there is more steak available from a cow logically it should be cheaper. It is because steak represents a set of values that are perceived to be socially superior that it is the most expensive cut. Similarly westerners will not eat dogs, not because dog is nutritionally inferior, but because we have placed upon it a symbolic value. As Sahlins put it " No object, no thing, has being or movement in human society except by the significance men can give it." Likewise studies by Douglas (1966) on food taboos draw attention to how culture applies symbolic meaning to animals. Sahlins found evidence supporting the presence of such cultural factors not only in food preferences but also in the American clothing system, which he defines as a complex system of communication through which we express class and gender. In other words to which we apply a symbolic system which allows us to classify and order our world. In opposition to this is the culturally materialistic view of Harris (1978) , who stresses the ecological influences upon taste. Rather than food preferences being arbitrary, symbolic cultural constructs Harris argues that they originate from practical concerns and are based upon...
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