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 V.21 No.30 | July 26 - August 1, 2012 

Aural Fixation

The Rock Space

Jessica Cassyle Carr

In his classic 1979 tome Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste, French thinker Pierre Bourdieu created a diagram of foods as they relate to class and education. For example, by Bourdieu’s calculation, those with cultural wealth enjoyed recherché and the exotic while those with less of it preferred apéritifs and pâtisserie. He argued that taste itself, as related to consumer preferences, is a form of social positioning.

Last month, the heady diagram known as The Food Space was revisited in a Gastronomica web exclusive by Molly Watson. Sans new empirical information to plug into it, the graph is more of an exercise in thinking about modern tastes than it is scientific (read Watson’s piece here: It’s also a goad for controversy. Some allergic people were up in arms about the fact that she placed wheat-free in the wealthy, cultured quadrant.

After reading the piece, I thought it would be entertaining to try and illuminate rock and roll in a similar fashion (key word: entertaining). What does your guitar choice say about your social status? I began this exercise over drinks with the help of half a dozen people. Realizing that it may inflame sensitivities like so may irritable bowels, I decided to proceed with caution—I didn’t touch any genres other than rock. At the same time, I don’t care if my placement of Stevie Ray Vaughn upsets you. Bon appétit!

Feel free to fill in any blanks: Send me a new chart or just an old-fashioned piece of hate mail to with “Rock Space” in the subject field.

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