Exploring Dissonance and Omnivorousness: Another Look into the Rise of Eclecticism

Laurie Hanquinet in Cultural Sociology

The debate over the rise of eclecticism, more particularly Peterson’s ‘omnivore thesis’, has received much attention over recent years. For Lahire, eclecticism reflects less an increasing individual openness to a variety of cultural styles than intra-individual dissonances. Based on a large survey into cultural practices in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation (Belgium – N = 2021), this article compares these two notions with the aim of understanding the complexity of the structural relations that organise cultural tastes and practices into ‘cultural profiles’. I argue that omnivorousness cannot be reduced to dissonance but instead both notions characterise different configurations of cultural choices. More importantly, I show that identifying omnivorous and dissonant patterns matters less than understanding how these patterns emerge from tensions between existing and emerging cultural hierarchies at the individual and social levels.



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