The Structure of Literary Taste: Class, Gender and Reading in the UK

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Abstract

In Distinction Bourdieu indicated that literary taste was just as homologous with social class as tastes in music, food or art, even if it received comparatively little attention. Recent scholarship across various nations aiming to test, update and refine Bourdieu’s thesis has generally confirmed a relationship between cultural capital and reading habits, but neglect of Bourdieu’s multidimensional view of class, as well as reliance on rather undifferentiated genre categories, has tended to limit the conclusions. On top of that, gender is often flagged as far more important to the structuring of literary taste than Bourdieu ever supposed. This paper seeks to overcome the limitations of extant research and clarify the relationship between class and gender in structuring literary taste, and thus symbolic domination, by exploring data relating to reading preferences in the 2012 British Cohort Study using a Bourdieusian class scheme.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-266
Number of pages20
JournalCultural Sociology
Volume10
Issue number2
Early online date4 Apr 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 May 2016

Keywords

  • literary taste
  • reading
  • books
  • literature
  • literary
  • Bourdieu
  • Bourdieusian
  • capital
  • cultural capital
  • class
  • gender

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