This mixed-methods study examines college students’ music preferences in order to better understand the phenomenon of cultural omnivorousness, or eclectic taste. I found that the majority (76%) of students were cultural omnivores. Education is a very important influence on music taste, but it works in complex ways. Formal classes increase appreciation of new genres. Parent influences were a factor, but musicianship was a more important predictor of “highbrow” taste than parents’ education level. The major way college education promotes omnivorousness is through increased diversity of social networks. There were, however, patterned dislikes that suggest both music as a symbolic boundary and omnivorousness as a status distinction. Even this overwhelmingly omnivorous population has hierarchies of taste, as some types of music and listeners are more highly regarded than others.
Michelson, Anna, "The Cultural Omnivore in Its Natural Habitat: Music Taste at a Liberal Arts College" (2013). Sociology Honors Projects. 41.
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