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Taste Culture

Diana Crane

Subject Communication Studies » Visual and Non-verbal Communication
Culture » Popular Culture

People Frankfurt School

Key-Topics taste

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


The idea that →  Popular Culture consists of distinct “taste cultures” was developed by Herbert Gans (1974) as an alternative to the then dominant theory of mass culture. Mass culture theorists ( Horkheimer & Adorno 2001 ) viewed popular culture as a commercial enterprise that represented a debased form of high culture. They claimed that mass culture targeted a mass audience that was passive and uncritical and thus susceptible to mass persuasion, with potentially dangerous consequences for society as a whole (→  Culture: Definitions and Concepts ). Gans argued that the concept of mass culture was an oversimplification. Popular culture exists in various forms that appeal to →  audiences with different educational backgrounds and tastes. High culture requires a sophisticated audience and, inevitably, appeals to a minority of the population; most people prefer popular culture. Gans developed a typology of “taste publics” that consume “taste cultures” appropriate for their educational level and social background. A taste culture consists of values and aesthetic standards for culture, cultural forms that express those values, and the media in which they are expressed. Five principal taste cultures , stratified by social class, represented American culture in the 1970s. “High culture” comprised both classics and contemporary styles in literature and the arts. Its taste public ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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