Class, Class Identity and Musical Omnivorousness: Plurivores or Diversivores

Wednesday, 18 July 2018
Lorenzo D'HOOGE, Tilburg University, Netherlands
Peter ACHTERBERG, Tilburg University, Netherlands
Tim REESKENS, Tilburg University, Netherlands
Research on musical consumption laid out a pattern of musical omnivores in the higher social classes, i.e. having an open attitude, contrasted by univores in the lower social classes. We look at the role of subjective class identity, since a majority of the American population does not identify as part of their material social class. In addition, we challenge the traditional measurement of musical omnivorousness, with a focus on the volume of musical tastes, and pay attention to musical omnivorousness as defined by the breadth of musical preferences by accounting for the cultural distance between musical preferences. We look into this by using the General Social Survey 1993, one of the prime sources of detailed musical consumption, and employ a material and subjective class scheme consisting of the working class, middle class and higher class. Our results show that material social class is indeed important when it comes to the traditional measurement of omnivorousness, but when focusing on the cultural distance between musical taste a different pattern emerges with subjective class identity having more discriminatory power. Referring to musical omnivorousness measured by volume of musical taste as musical plurivorousness, we argue that this is related to material class because of the cultural capital and resources of people and consequently does not measure an open musical attitude. Omnivorousness measured by the breadth of musical taste, referred to as musical diversivorousness and seen as a more accurate measurement of the concept, is predicted by class identity because this is a conscious process of musical choices in order to gain acceptance within the social group while excluding others belonging to different social groups.