An Article Review of Koen Van Eijk and John Lievens's "Cultural Omnivorousness as a Combination of Highbrow, Pop, and Folk Elements"

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The Omnivore Debate: An Article Review

van Eijk, Koen and John Lievens. 2008. “Cultural Omnivorousness as a Combination of Highbrow, Pop, and Folk Elements: The Relation Between Taste Patterns and Attitudes Concerning Social Integration.” Poetics 36. 217-242.

While most scholars acknowledge the elusiveness that the term “culture” invokes, perhaps even more tenuous is the understanding of preferential taste of particular aspects of culture (i.e., taste in music, art, etc.). Certainly if it were easy enough to ask a group of people, “What do you like? And why do you like it?” there would be little—or at least, far less—debate on the subject; however, this is, of course, not the case. As Bennett, et al. (2009) emphasize in Culture, Class, Distinction, individuals have a difficult time explaining why they like or dislike something, often falling back on familiar responses such as, “It’s just not for me” and “Don’t ask me to explain” (67-68).
Along this vein of thought runs a debate so muddled that it is almost too easy to become lost in the mires of densely thick hypotheses and terminologies; I am, of course, referring to the debate of the culture omnivore. On the most basic level, the culture omnivore is a member of society whom indiscriminately devours a variety of music, art forms, mass media, and more; however, for this brief overview we will focus on the musical omnivore, one whose palate seems insatiable for a wide breadth of genres, from pop to classical to opera to folk. As positively open-minded as this seems, the omnivore debate revolves around the notion of upper class, highbrow snobbery being abandoned in favor of the ever-inclusive attitude, or, put bluntly, it is no longer in vogue to be a musical snob.
Inasmuch, Koen van Eijk and John Lievens delve into the omnivore debate head-on. The combination of van Eijk’s background in cultural studies…...

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