Stuff: Objects and Materiality in Society – ‘taste’ and ‘cool’

How does the concept of ‘cool’ differ from that of ‘taste’? Consider whether ‘taste’ is an outdated concept.

Taste is the ability to distinguish the difference between something of good quality or bad quality. Often bad taste is attributed to liking something that is rejected by the masses, this then differs greatly from Pountain and Robins distinction of cool as a ‘belief that the mainstream … [dose] not apply to them.’

One aspects in which the theories overlap is the suggestion that both ‘cool’ and ‘taste’ are inherent in people. Bourdieu suggests that taste is ‘manifested in everything people do and posses’ that each person has their own measure of taste which is not divided by social classes, as is commonly thought. Botz-Bornstien suggests that to be ‘cool’ is a way of personality, ‘to be calm, even unimpressed’; while Poutain and Robins propose that ‘cool is inherent in people rather than objects’.

The concepts of both ‘taste’ and ‘cool’ are subjective. Arguably, it is easier to define what is ‘cool’ or ‘uncool’ because of the effects that advertising and the icon figures found therein. While ‘taste’ is a more personal affair; it is a relevant today as it has always been.


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