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"Anything But Heavy Metal": Symbolic Exclusion and Musical Dislikes

Bethany Bryson
American Sociological Review
Vol. 61, No. 5 (Oct., 1996), pp. 884-899
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2096459
Page Count: 16
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Abstract

I provide quantitative evidence of a cultural phenomenon. Using data on musical dislikes from the 1993 General Social Survey, I link literatures on taste, racism, and democratic liberalism by showing that people use cultural taste to reinforce symbolic boundaries between themselves and categories of people they dislike. Contrary to Bourdieu's (1984) prediction, musical exclusiveness decreases with education. Also, political tolerance is associated with musical tolerance, even controlling for educational attainment, and racism increases the probability of disliking genres whose fans are disproportionately non-White. Tolerant musical taste, however, is found to have a specific pattern of exclusiveness: Those genres whose fans have the least education--gospel, country, rap, and heavy metal--are also those most likely to be rejected by the musically tolerant. Broad familiarity with music genres is also significantly related to education. I suggest, therefore, that cultural tolerance constitutes multicultural capital as it is unevenly distributed in the population and evidences class-based exclusion.

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