Poetics: Journal of Empirical Research on Literature, the Media and the Arts vol:37 issue:4 pages:348-365
The appreciation of nine distinct visual art styles was assessed by presenting color plates to some 3000 Flemish respondents. We set out to study the relation between vertical cultural boundary crossing, or omnivorousness, and horizontal boundary crossing, i.e., a preference for both classical and modern works within the domain of legitimate visual arts. We find that, Bourdieu's scholarship notwithstanding, a substantial proportion of our sample enjoyed both classical and modern works. This latter segment also ventured somewhat into popular culture, but markedly less than the taste group limiting its visual arts preferences to modern works. Those with a visual arts taste restricted to classical works were much less culturally active, as were those with low preference levels for most modern and classical visual art styles. The analyses demonstrate that horizontal and vertical cultural boundary crossing have different meanings and probably represent distinct strategies for distinction as well. Omnivorousness can thus occur in different ways, which calls for a reconceptualization of the concept. Breadth of taste should be seen as only one dimension of taste patterns, which need to be qualified further by the specific combination of cultural genres on which they focus.