When Diversity Is Desirable: How Social Media Reviews of Ethnic Businesses Shape Neighborhood Preferences
2019 American Democracy Fellowship
From Veblen’s theory of leisure class to Bourdieu’s cultural capital of elites, classical sociological theories of elite cultural preferences have focused their function as distinction. That is, elites use conspicuous consumption and tastes for high culture to consolidate and mark their exclusive status. However, more recent scholars of elites report the shift in elite cultural tastes from “snob to omnivore,” arguing the emergence of “new elite” who believe in diversity, openness, and meritocracy. From music tastes to film to arts and food consumption, the new elites embrace diverse cultures, spanning across hierarchical boundaries, rejecting exclusive consumption of highbrow culture. However, among ample analyses of elites’ cultural tastes and omnivorousness in cultural sociology, what is still missing is the neighborhood. I use online survey experiments and in-depth interviews to examine young white elites’ neighborhood preference for “diversity” to understand how they project their omnivorous cultural tastes into neighborhood contexts.