Mundane tastes: ubiquitous objects and the historical sensorium

Highmore, Ben (2018) Mundane tastes: ubiquitous objects and the historical sensorium. In: Quinn, Malcolm, Beech, Dave, Lehnert, Michael, Tulloch, Carol and Wilson, Stephen (eds.) The persistence of taste: art, museums and everyday life after bourdieu. Culture, Economy and the Social . Routledge. ISBN 9781138670983 (Accepted)

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There are a range of objects that appear to be almost ubiquitous in countries in the global North. In households in Britain, for instance, a number of objects that once would have marked you out as socially distinct (as a technological pioneer, for instance, or as someone with enough disposable income to indulge in luxury goods) are now more noticeable by their absence. A household without central-heating is today more remarkable than one with such a system. Socially ‘indistinct’ groups of objects in over-developed countries might include cars, mobile (and not so mobile) phones, washing machines, denim jeans, refrigerators, radios, computers, TVs, and so on. But of course these are also objects that can be, and often are, inflected as socially distinct objects: after all there is a marked difference between a brand new Ferrari, a second-hand ‘people carrier’, and a souped-up hatch back. What does not mark you out is having a car; what marks you out is having a particular car. Indeed, the world of cars and car advertising is a semiotic field of intense differentiation. As cultural and social historians how should we attend to this field of objects that from one perspective lack distinction? What are the differences that make a difference: the myriad of small differences that inflect the world of car-ownership according to differences of class, gender, age, ethnicity, aspiration, politics, and so on; or the longue durée of human mobility and motility in which generalised private motorised transport is a key component? Is the fact of mass motoring of more or less significance than the way an industry has found sophisticated ways of inducing consumer desire and envy?

Item Type: Book Section
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Film and Music > Media and Film
Research Centres and Groups: Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies
Subjects: A General Works
Depositing User: Ben Highmore
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2016 11:35
Last Modified: 05 Dec 2017 13:12

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