This work explores the social uses and social roots of musical taste in contemporary Italy. For the first time, large amounts of online data, retrieved from digital platform YouTube, have been exploited for this purpose, in the broader context of a mixed-method research design. Following an inductive methodological approach, the present study shows that shared notions of “good” and “bad” musical taste – broader and more flexible than what the traditional highbrow/lowbrow dichotomy implied – have manifest social consequences as well as tacit social determinants. Notwithstanding the academically successful claims of a widespread de-hierarchization, democratization and hyper-individualization of postmodern culture, this unconventional empirical investigation sheds light on how distinction works in the digital age. Pierre Bourdieu famously investigated the social roots and uses of cultural taste in 1960s France. In La Distinction, artistic preferences and forms of aesthetic appreciation were portrayed as both the product of class-based socialization and the producers of “distinctions” – classificatory practices drawing symbolic boundaries between forms of art and social strata. The present work attempts to replicate Bourdieu’s path-breaking analysis, moving from the following methodological premise: since cultural tastes and evaluations are now objectified in the form of researchable digital data, distinctions can be studied on online platforms in an unobtrusive, relational and ground-up way. An overview of my research design is illustrated in Chapter 2. Chapter 1 critically reviews Bourdieu and followers’ contributions to the sociological study of cultural consumption. Then, Chapter 3 maps the relational structure of the Italian field of music consumption, as it inductively emerges from the network and cluster analyses of the practices and discourses of music listeners on YouTube. Chapter 4 aims to understand how music artists, genres and publics are discursively represented by YouTube commenters in digitally-mediated social situations. The unobtrusive study of “critical” aesthetic judgements served to shed light on the distinctive uses of musical taste on the platform. Chapter 5 presents the results of semi-structured interviews with a theoretical sample of YouTube users, selected from my digital dataset. This allowed to qualitatively inquire the intersections of taste, identity, technology, everyday life and social imaginary. Last, Chapter 6 explores the social roots of musical taste (and distaste). This was possible through an ad hoc-designed questionnaire distributed to the users of a network of public libraries situated in the north-west of Milan. Responses were analysed through multiple correspondence and network analyses. Overall, the present doctoral research shows that: a) distinctive social processes are diffused in the Italian field of music consumption; b) differences in musical preferences and, particularly, styles of aesthetic appreciation are rooted in class, educational, gender and age differences.

DIGITAL DISTINCTION. STUDYING MUSICAL TASTE THROUGH DIGITAL METHODS / M. Airoldi ; supervisor: F. Boni ; co-supervisor: A. Arvidsson ; director of doctoral thesis: M. Cardano. - : . DIPARTIMENTO DI SCIENZE SOCIALI E POLITICHE, 2017 Jul 20. ((29. ciclo, Anno Accademico 2016. [10.13130/airoldi-massimo_phd2017-07-20].

DIGITAL DISTINCTION. STUDYING MUSICAL TASTE THROUGH DIGITAL METHODS

M. Airoldi
2017-07-20

Abstract

This work explores the social uses and social roots of musical taste in contemporary Italy. For the first time, large amounts of online data, retrieved from digital platform YouTube, have been exploited for this purpose, in the broader context of a mixed-method research design. Following an inductive methodological approach, the present study shows that shared notions of “good” and “bad” musical taste – broader and more flexible than what the traditional highbrow/lowbrow dichotomy implied – have manifest social consequences as well as tacit social determinants. Notwithstanding the academically successful claims of a widespread de-hierarchization, democratization and hyper-individualization of postmodern culture, this unconventional empirical investigation sheds light on how distinction works in the digital age. Pierre Bourdieu famously investigated the social roots and uses of cultural taste in 1960s France. In La Distinction, artistic preferences and forms of aesthetic appreciation were portrayed as both the product of class-based socialization and the producers of “distinctions” – classificatory practices drawing symbolic boundaries between forms of art and social strata. The present work attempts to replicate Bourdieu’s path-breaking analysis, moving from the following methodological premise: since cultural tastes and evaluations are now objectified in the form of researchable digital data, distinctions can be studied on online platforms in an unobtrusive, relational and ground-up way. An overview of my research design is illustrated in Chapter 2. Chapter 1 critically reviews Bourdieu and followers’ contributions to the sociological study of cultural consumption. Then, Chapter 3 maps the relational structure of the Italian field of music consumption, as it inductively emerges from the network and cluster analyses of the practices and discourses of music listeners on YouTube. Chapter 4 aims to understand how music artists, genres and publics are discursively represented by YouTube commenters in digitally-mediated social situations. The unobtrusive study of “critical” aesthetic judgements served to shed light on the distinctive uses of musical taste on the platform. Chapter 5 presents the results of semi-structured interviews with a theoretical sample of YouTube users, selected from my digital dataset. This allowed to qualitatively inquire the intersections of taste, identity, technology, everyday life and social imaginary. Last, Chapter 6 explores the social roots of musical taste (and distaste). This was possible through an ad hoc-designed questionnaire distributed to the users of a network of public libraries situated in the north-west of Milan. Responses were analysed through multiple correspondence and network analyses. Overall, the present doctoral research shows that: a) distinctive social processes are diffused in the Italian field of music consumption; b) differences in musical preferences and, particularly, styles of aesthetic appreciation are rooted in class, educational, gender and age differences.
BONI, FEDERICO
BONI, FEDERICO
ARVIDSSON, ADAM ERIK
distinction; Bourdieu; digital methods; musical taste; YouTube; mixed methods; cultural consumption; social media
Settore SPS/08 - Sociologia dei Processi Culturali e Comunicativi
DIGITAL DISTINCTION. STUDYING MUSICAL TASTE THROUGH DIGITAL METHODS / M. Airoldi ; supervisor: F. Boni ; co-supervisor: A. Arvidsson ; director of doctoral thesis: M. Cardano. - : . DIPARTIMENTO DI SCIENZE SOCIALI E POLITICHE, 2017 Jul 20. ((29. ciclo, Anno Accademico 2016. [10.13130/airoldi-massimo_phd2017-07-20].
Doctoral Thesis
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Descrizione: PhD thesis Massimo Airoldi "Digital Distinction. Studying musical taste through digital methods".
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2434/505480
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