Traditional vs. Modern Art: The Status and Network Antecedents of Visual Art Preferences
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Institute of Sociology, University of Wroclaw
Publication date: 2020-04-29
Polish Sociological Review 2020;209(1):41–64
Sociologists traditionally focus on the power of socio-economic variables as drivers of aesthetic tastes and cultural practices, leaving other important factors outside the purview of analysis. As a remedy, this article makes use of recent progress at the intersection of the sociology of culture and network theory to show that individual interest in and preferences for art are also embedded in social relationships of a different kind. Data from a specially designed survey on personal networks and cultural tastes in Polish society is analyzed. Cultural taste is measured in detail by presenting respondents with ten color illustrations depicting different styles of visual art. These ten evaluations are then reduced to two significant dimensions (traditional vs. more modern art). The regressions analyses show distinct relations of network characteristics (such as heterogeneity, type of contacts, density, or associational membership) with the type of art preferred. The findings are interpreted in terms of social influence and affinity between cultural orientations (e.g., openness) and the manners in which social ties are developed and maintained. Additionally, the article sheds light on distinction patterns by arguing that status is claimed through specific (modern) preferences.