The anatomy of cultural omnivorousness
: The case of the United Kingdom.
Though omnivorousness has become the predominant framework in cultural sociology since the late 1990s, other studies continue to find at least weak associations between socioeconomic position and specific cultural lifestyles (e.g., Coulangeon and Lemel 2007; Veenstra 2015), thus supporting Bourdieusian homology as the theory that partially explains cultural stratification.
The conversation between homology and omnivorousness continues to guide studies in cultural sociology, but the debate itself has been criticized on several grounds.
In attempts to unravel the meaning of omnivorousness, scholars have noted the difference between omnivorousness "by volume" and "by composition." Omnivorousness by volume refers to the overall quantity of one's cultural consumption, independent of highbrow/lowbrow distinctions, whereas omnivorousness by composition is related to the symbolic crossing of highbrow and lowbrow boundaries (Lizardo 2014b; Warde and Gayo-Cal 2009; Warde et al.
THE SOURCE: "Democracy Versus Distinction: A Study of Omnivorousness
in Gourmet Food Writing" by Josee Johnston and Shyon Baumann, in American Journal of Sociology, July 2007.
Introducing the concept of voraciousness as a theoretical variation of omnivorousness, they note the significance of frequency of participation (voracious pattern of consumption) in addition to the omnivorous contents of consumption of various leisure activities.
However, a recent enquiry into 'omnivorousness' by Snowball et al.
Warde, Alan., Lydia Martens and Wendy Olsen 1999 "Consumption and the problem of variety: Cultural omnivorousness
, social distinction and dining out." Sociology 33(1): 105-127
Might that be no more than a coded way of drawing attention to an ability to accept compromise, an omnivorousness
, and a variety of output that makes his oeuvre -- in the language of the motor industry -- somehow unintegrated?
Achterberg and Houtman (2005) operationalized musical omnivorousness as the status distance between the most highbrow music and the most lowbrow music chosen by a person.
However, neither education nor income makes a meaningful contribution to explaining this measure of musical omnivorousness, indicating that this data set does not contain elites characterized by a wide range of diverse musical tastes.
Locating the authentic and the exotic as frames within foodie discourse serving to mask the tension between the competing ideologies of democracy and distinction, the book questions the presumed democratic nature of sampling from both high and low culture, and argues that although cultural omnivorousness
hinges on the ability to enjoy both fine French food and a grilled cheese sandwich, status and distinction remain central.