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Class, Culture and Culinary Tastes: Cultural Distinctions and Social Class Divisions in Contemporary Norway

You are what you eat, or so the saying goes. In this article Magne Flemmen, Johannes Hjellbrekke and Vegard Jarness analyse class cultures by mapping out differences in original taste.

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In this article we analyse class cultures by mapping out differences in ‘original taste’; that is, respondents’ classed preferences for food and drink. By employing Multiple Correspondence Analysis, we produce a relational model of tastes. Using three indicators of social class – occupational class, income and education – we find clear class divisions. The upper and middle classes exhibit diverse and what are typically regarded as ‘healthy’ tastes; this contrasts with the more restricted and what are typically regarded as ‘less healthy’ tastes found among the working classes.

Our findings challenge ongoing debates within cultural stratification research where it has become almost usual to demonstrate that the contemporary upper and middle classes exhibit playful tastes for the ‘cosmopolitan’ and the ‘exotic’. We find that upper- and middle-class households also enjoy very traditional foodstuffs. We argue that this illustrates a need for a relational understanding of taste: even the consumption of the traditional peasant food of pre-capitalist Norway can be refashioned as a badge of distinction in the 21st century.

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Published Mar. 14, 2017 1:07 PM - Last modified Mar. 14, 2017 1:24 PM