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Taste After Bourdieu

The conference Taste After Bourdieu brings together UK and international speakers from arts practice, art education, curation, sociology and cultural criticism to ask - what is the current relationship between aesthetic judgement and social distinction?

15 - 16 May 2016

In response to the influential twentieth century analysis of taste proposed by Pierre Bourdieu, how should we construct a cross-cultural analysis of taste in the twenty first century?

Taste After Bourdieu offers an analysis of taste across 4 key domains - the Museum, the Gallery, the Street and the Home - to re-evaluate the relationship of aesthetic judgement to social distinction for a new era. Working within and across these 4 domains enables us to embrace the Bourdieusian idea of a cross-cultural analysis of taste while questioning the reduction of aesthetics to social distinction that has accompanied it.

On the one hand, the reduction of aesthetic value to social distinction has proposed an end to the separation of high and low culture and anxiety about status and respectability. On the other hand, this same reduction of aesthetic value to social distinction is supported by new kinds of personal and cultural anxiety, new forms of cultural institution and new expressions of social and political power.

Introductory Panel

  • Professor Malcolm Quinn, Professor in Cultural and Political History. Associate Dean of Research and Director of Graduate School, Camberwell, Chelsea, Wimbledon Colleges of Arts
  • Professor Thomas Docherty, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, University of Warwick
  • Dr Laurie Hanquinet, Department of Sociology, University of York

Speaker Panels

Taste and the Museum - considers the fate of the ‘post-taste’ museum in Europe, which, while it is no longer required to deliver the self-cultivation of the individual, is facing new strictures on what kinds of taste building it can now assume.

Taste and the Gallery - charts a course between the either / or of the sociological reduction of aesthetic experience and an uncomplicated assertion of the autonomous individual subject of taste.

Taste and the Street - looks at public taste from an Asian perspective using examples from street fashion, popular culture and high art to challenge the co-ordinates of a Bourdieusian analysis.

Taste and the Home - adopts the cross-cultural ambitions of a Bourdieusian analysis, while questioning whether the very act of switching from one context to another or from one geographical space to another, undermines the social mechanisms of distinction that Bourdieu has described.

Keynote Speakers

  • Professor Tony Bennett, Institute for Culture and Society, University of Western Sydney
  • Professor Penny Sparke, School of Art and Design History, Kingston University


Professor Silke Ackermann, Dave Beech, Penelope Curtis, Dr David Dibosa, Professor Paul Goodwin, Professor Yuko Hasegawa, Professor Ben Highmore, Dr Katie Hill, Professor Susan Kaiser, Dr Sharon Kinsella, Dr Dirk vom Lehn, Dr Michael Lehnert, Dr Michael McMillan, Professor Peter Osborne, Pil and Galia Kollectiv, Professor Carol Tulloch, Professor Toshio Watanabe, Dr Ken Wilder, Dr Stephen Wilson.

Organised by the Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon Graduate School and supported by TrAIN Research Centre.