Antoine Hennion, Geneviève Teil

L'attività riflessiva dell'amatore. Un approccio pragmatico al gusto

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The paper offers a perspective on taste which tries to overcome what is now the hegemonic view within the social sciences and which conceives of taste as social distinction or differentiation. It ultimately aims to show the limits of a detached and ascetic reading of taste wherein objects loose their specificity and merely become an excuse for the reproduction of standardized forms of social distinction. To do so it concentrates on the case of wine, focussing on the way the amateur develops his or her relationship with this historically and culturally rich drink. If some amateurs use blind tasting in order to ensure their taste is the only result of the wine expression emptied of any social influence, most of them do not try to disentangle the experience of wine drinking from its "social context", nor to control the experience itself in order to provide appreciation by detachment from the object. On the contrary, the "context" provides them a lot of resources to arrange specifically each various drinking opportunity. Other amateurs engage their subjectivity in the experience of wine drinking by forms of self-government which entail self-reflexivity and a thematization of their own amateurship. At the end, wine loving appears as a reflexive and equipped activity which admits many formats selectively grounded on the object, the drinker and collectives. Trying to escape both critical indifference and objective difference, the paper argues that sociologists have much to learn on taste from the forms of knowledge and activity displayed by the amateur.

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