- Taste differentiation and hierarchization within popular culture: the case of salsa music
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- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
This article investigates taste preferences for one popular music genre: salsa. It is based on in-depth interviews with 40 Latin American immigrants in Switzerland and the Netherlands. Eight recorded pieces of salsa that represent different salsa styles were played and respondents’ spontaneous appreciations were noted. The findings show a clear and fairly strong connection between taste preferences and status/class indicators, particularly education and to a lesser extent occupational status and social origins. High-status respondents prefer those pieces and styles classified as artistically worthwhile by professional experts in salsa music, whereas low-status respondents showed more appreciation for pieces and styles that experts classified as popular, commercial, and artistically inferior. Respondents also differed in their preferences for other musical genres, styles, and pieces as well as in the reasons they gave for their preferences. These results largely confirm Bourdieu's distinction theory for this specific ‘popular’ genre, and suggest that cultural ‘omnivorousness’ can coincide with status-related distinctions and exclusivity on the level of within-genre distinctions. The findings also show that respondents use salsa music as a resource to define and express their ‘Latin’ identity - thus illustrating both ‘bounding’ and ‘bridging’ mechanisms.
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