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Comparing “Cosmopolitanism”: Taste, Nation and Global Culture in Finland and the UK

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image of Comparative Sociology
For content published from 1960-2001, see International Journal of Comparative Sociology.

Abstract This paper adds a comparative perspective to the study of taste, cosmopolitanism and social organisation. Drawing on material provided by two similar projects in the UK and Finland it explores the relationships between national and cosmopolitan taste cultures. Whilst there have been some recent attempts to study taste in a comparative perspective, the weight of sociological inquiry into taste is focussed on specific national spaces, including the France of Bourdieu’s (1984) seminal contribution. This tendency persists even as the production and circulation of culture is increasingly accepted as global. Global culture is assumed to be the driver of cosmopolitan ways of being, but is also interpreted as a threat to distinct national cultures. Studies of taste provide an empirical setting where the lived experience of global culture and the ambiguities of cosmopolitanism can be observed. Based on interviews and focus group discussions from the UK and Finland, the paper broadly concurs with those critics who see cosmopolitanism in the context of the maintenance of privileged political or symbolic positions of classes/status groups.


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