“Intellectual” Leisure Activity and “Simple” Entertainment: Preferences in Art as System of Signals “Intellectual” Leisure Activity and “Simple” Entertainment: Preferences in Art as System of Signals

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Nadezhda Sokolova


Scholarship where cultural consumption is intertwined with the issues of stratification focuses on the possibilities and consequences of using cultural capital as a signal in interaction. In this case authors not only study differences in consumption patterns, but also examine boundary-defining activity. It is assumed that individuals form groups based on similarity of cultural preferences and exclude those whose interests are recognized as “bad taste.” Signals of expression of “good” or “bad” taste are the type of information that allows an individual to divide social space into groups. In this line of research the main question is focused on connection between cultural consumption and social position. Social position is determined not only as membership in a class, following the tradition of Pierre Bourdieu, but also in terms of occupational status or education level. In this article I pose questions about the coherence of the system of signals and the ways to use it. Are individual expressions of “good” and “bad” taste similar, and what kinds of signaling functions do they use? Based on interviews conducted in Saint Petersburg, Russia, I conclude that, despite the coherence of the classification system of cultural objects, only representatives of the group with greater resources maintain external boundaries based on cultural consumption patterns, while for the group with fewer resources cultural consumption is not such type of signal.

Article in Russian


Cultural Consumption, Sociology of Art, Social Stratification, Cultural Capital, Social Boundaries

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