Musical preferences and technologies: Contemporary material and symbolic distinctions criticised

Adrian Leguina, Sara Arancibia-Carvajal, Paul Widdop

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Music as a mechanism for social distinction is well established. Yet, perhaps more than any other form of cultural expression, it is music which has been systematically transformed by emerging technologies. From the gramophone, radio, cassette and CD, through to portable devices and shared through social media, music is in constant flux. To separate taste for music from its various acquisitional forms is to undermine its role in society. In this article, our aim is to integrate within taste and cultural consumption analysis a salient dimension, such as technologies to acquire music, conceptualized as modes of musical exchange and formats used to listen to music. We argue that these are components of musical consumption practices which enhance our understanding on how symbolic boundaries are shaped today. Using multiple factor analysis, this study provides a simultaneous analysis of musical tastes and technological engagement in Chile. We find that uses of technologies share a unique relationship to musical taste. Musical taste remains a relevant process of distinction, but modes of exchange prove to be an emerging property. They, however, do not create new symbolic boundaries; rather, they are important in reinforcing those that exist.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1469540515586870
JournalJournal of Consumer Culture
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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