The « Tablature » of musical tastes :
a new model for contemporary tastes and social judgments
Michel PINET

pp. 599-640


In France, a social-stratification model is still the main theoretical model used to analyse cultural tastes. Recently, Richard A. Peterson substituted the distinction model based on classical tastes (opera, classical music and jazz) with an omnivorous model based on the mix of classical and popular genres. In this article, we wish to challenge Peterson’s model by suggesting that it is now outdated : we postulate that a new young highbrow peoples’ taste pattern exists, characterised by « exclusiveness » (i.e., univorousness) focused on popular genres (hits, rock, electro, rap, etc.), with the disappearance of classical and popular genres mix. We use three historical surveys on French cultural practices and tastes over 30 years : 1973 and 2003. From a sociological and theoretical standpoint, we argue that there is a need to replace Peterson’s « inversed pyramid » and « omnivore tastes » model, following Bourdieu’s column and linear model which places classical taste in opposition to popular taste, with a new tastes/social position design, i.e., a « tablature ». We suggest that a new musical tastes map is required which should be a map of incommensurable musical styles and structured relations between genres that is no longer based on « rejections/dislikes » but rather on « openness/tolerance ». Thirty years after publication of Bourdieu’s Distinction, the theoretical model of cultural practices has changed, in addition to the social value of the culture and cultural judgment.



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