Omnivorousness, Distinction, or Both?

Josée Johnston, Shyon Baumann, Merin Oleschuk

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter provides an overview of the evolution and debate surrounding the legacy of Bourdieu’s ideas about culture and class inequality. It charts the development of the sociological concepts of distinction and omnivorousness, making note of important points of consensus, while considering gaps and puzzles that continue to trouble the field. The chapter argues that cultural consumption remains a central framework for understanding the perpetuation and cultural rationalization of inequality. Over three decades of research in the sociology of culture highlights the contemporary infusion of elements of democratic inclusion into cultural omnivorousness, yet also how it operates ideologically to obfuscate the deep, disturbing divisions that still exist between rich and poor on a national and global scale. During a period in which wealth disparities are on the rise, the result is more likely an obfuscation of inequality, rather than meaningful social change to reduce it.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Consumption
EditorsFrederick F. Wherry, Ian Woodward
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780190695583
StatePublished - Feb 11 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • omnivorousness
  • cultural hierarchy
  • aesthetics
  • cultural consumption
  • distinction


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