Taste (sociology)

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Taste as an aesthetic, sociological, economic and anthropological concept refers to a cultural patterns of choice and preference. While taste is often understood as a biological concept, it can also be reasonably studied as a social or cultural phenomenon. Taste is about drawing distinctions between things such as styles, manners, consumer goods and works of art. Social inquiry of taste is about the human ability to judge what is beautiful, good and proper.


  • What's one man's poison, signior,
    Is another's meat or drink.
  • It is only a dying cause which can attain to perfect taste.
    • John Buchan, A Lodge in the Wilderness (1906), Chapter III, p. 83.
  • Taste is that faculty which selects and relishes such combinations of ideas as produce genuine beauty, and rejects the contrary.
    • John Mason Good, The Book of Nature (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1834), Series III, Lecture XV, p. 460.
  • Taste is the enemy of creativeness.
  • The corruption of taste is a portion and a pendant of the dollar-manufacture. As we grow rich our ideas grow rusty.
    • Edgar Allan Poe, "The Philosophy of Furniture" in The Gentleman's Magazine (1840:6), p. 244
  • In Poets as true Genius is but rare,
True Taste as seldom is the Critic’s share.
  • Taste has no system and no proofs.
    • Susan Sontag, "Notes on Camp", Against Interpretation (1961).
  • De gustibus non disputandum.
    • There is no disputing about taste.
    • Quoted by Laurence Sterne, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (1760-1767); also used by Jeremy Taylor, Reflections upon Ridicule (1707), p. 122.
  • I doubt there is enough money in the world to buy you good taste.
    • Ysabeau S. Wilce, The Lineaments of Gratified Desire (2006), reprinted in Rich Horton (ed.) Fantasy: The Best of the Year 2007, p. 177
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