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What Does it Mean to Be a Cultural Omnivore? Conflicting Visions of Omnivorousness in Empirical Research

de Vries, Robert, Reeves, Aaron (2021) What Does it Mean to Be a Cultural Omnivore? Conflicting Visions of Omnivorousness in Empirical Research. Sociological Research Online, . ISSN 1360-7804. (KAR id:80783)


The ‘omnivore’ hypothesis currently dominates the academic literature on the social patterning of taste. It argues that cultural elites no longer resemble the traditional stereotype of an elitist snob. Instead, they are more likely to be ‘omnivores’ with broad tastes encompassing both elite and popular cultural forms. The omnivore hypothesis has inspired more than two decades of research and debate, without a clear resolution. In this article, we argue that progress in the omnivore debate has been impeded in part due to an elision of two distinct interpretations of the omnivore hypothesis: a strong interpretation, which holds that cultural elites are generally averse to class-based exclusivity; and a weak interpretation which holds that, while elites have broad tastes which encompass popular forms, they do not necessarily repudiate class-based exclusion. We demonstrate how drawing this distinction helps to clarify the existing empirical evidence concerning the omnivore hypothesis.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: Cultural taste, distinction, elites, exclusivity, omnivores
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
Depositing User: Robert De Vries
Date Deposited: 08 Apr 2020 06:51 UTC
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2022 12:28 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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