- Disputing about taste: Practices and perceptions of cultural hierarchy in the Netherlands
- Award date
- 27 May 2014
- Number of pages
- Document type
- PhD thesis
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
This dissertation asks the question whether and how people in the Netherlands practise, perceive and value cultural hierarchy. Do concepts such as ‘high culture’ and ‘low culture’ mean anything to them in an allegedly egalitarian society, and if so, how do they define them and how do they classify cultural objects? Furthermore, it studies how people practise cultural hierarchy in daily life, i.e., whether they look down on, or up to, others’ tastes. Finally, the opinions people have on these matters are studied. The research is conducted by means of in-depth interviews with ninety Dutch people on music, film, television, theatre and visual arts, which includes a quantitatively analysed ranking assignment.
The research shows many ambivalences. Many Dutch people - particularly the higher educated - indeed look down on others’ tastes, but they often immediately downplay their distinctive utterances. The majority recognises a cultural hierarchy, and there is a high consensus on both ends of this hierarchy (regardless of educational level or age), but many of them also object using concepts such as high and low culture, good and bad taste. In other words, they both perceive and practise cultural hierarchy, but they do not agree. They cherish egalitarian ideals, but they are not consistent. Finally, the research shows that the logic with which they practise hierarchy often differs from the logic with which they perceive and define hierarchy, which can help explain the confusion on the allegedly blurring boundaries between high and low culture.
- Research conducted at: Universiteit van Amsterdam
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