Upholding Symbolic Boundaries Through Culinary Dislikes: Exploring Food Tastes In Finland

Taru Lindblom & Pekka Mustonen


Perceiving various lifestyles as unpleasant is considered as an indicator of boundaries distinguishing classes from each other. This article examines the upholding of cultural boundaries through various cuisine type dislikes. Using Finnish data (n = 1706), we find that disliking various cuisine types (19 in total) is patterned, which suggests symbolic boundaries being drawn between status groups. As hypothesized, socially more “well-to-do” groups show less dislike towards various cuisines types. However, higher status groups are selective and very specific in terms of certain dislikes. The cuisine types considered as legitimate are particularly less disliked by the highly educated and creative class members. Only some cuisine types provide enough capacity as symbolic items. We argue that unlike the assumptions suggested by Bourdieu’s taste theory, cultural capital, when measured as education, is not a major source for defining illegitimate taste boundaries. Rather, a measure combining capitals, creative class membership, provides better explanations.

Keywords: food taste, culinary preferences, dislike, cultural capital, distinction, Finland

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