A critique of the omnivore

From the origin of the idea of omnivorousness to the Latin American experience

Authored by: Modesto Gayo

Routledge International Handbook of the Sociology of Art and Culture

Print publication date:  September  2015
Online publication date:  September  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415855112
eBook ISBN: 9780203740248
Adobe ISBN: 9781135008895


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In the early 1990s, when the influence of Bourdieusian sociology was spreading worldwide in the sociology of culture, and in the social sciences more generally, an idea emerged that over the years would come to be understood as a fundamental critique of Bourdieu’s contribution. This was the idea of the ‘omnivore’, coined as a provisional term for a social pattern that was interpreted as a new departure or, at the very least, as a significant expression of deep and long-lasting social change. US scholar Richard Peterson is the accepted creator of the notion of the omnivore (Peterson 1992, 1997), an idea that he developed initially with two colleagues, Simkus (Peterson and Simkus 1992) and Kern (Peterson and Kern 1996), in two different studies. In those contributions, the idea of the omnivore was spelt out quite clearly, even though many of the conceptual, explanatory and methodological issues were underdeveloped.

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