Discovering quality or performing taste?
A sociology of the amateur
in Qualities of food

This chapter draws on a study of amateurs' music- and food-lovers' practices, to show that taste is an activity and not a passive or determined state. A number of sociological and anthropological works offer literature reviews or compilations of key writings on taste. Instead of contrasting the qualities perceived by actors with an objective quality, some research programmes try to articulate the social and material dimensions of taste. The chapter presents comparative ethnographical observations of wine amateurs and gourmets, on the one hand, and music lovers on the other hand. The comparison of music and wine or food was aimed at providing evidence about the relationship between the amateur and what she or he likes, beyond native self-descriptions that always insist on the radical specificity of each object of love.

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