Combining material and cultural consumption: Fading boundaries or increasing antagonism?

Koen van Eijck*, Roel van Oosterhout

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Ever since the work of Bourdieu, taste patterns have been divided into more culturally oriented preferences on one hand, and economically or materially oriented patterns on the other hand. Several scholars believe that this distinction is blurring; if "anything goes", why would postmodern consumers care about the historical incompatibility of these orientations? At the same time, however, participation in highbrow culture seems to become decreasingly common among the members of the higher status groups. This might imply that high levels of material and cultural consumption are less likely to be combined into a single lifestyle. Using data from the Dutch Time Use Study covering the 1975-2000 period, it was found that, indeed, increasing numbers of people combine high levels of material and cultural consumption. However, it turns out that this trend is largely explained by autonomous increases in cultural and material consumption. Controlling these trends, we find two different developments. On the one hand, highbrow lovers have become more likely to display high levels of material consumption over time. On the other hand, those richest in material resources have become less likely to be seriously involved in highbrow culture. As the latter trend is more pronounced than the former, we find a decreasing correlation on balance between material and cultural consumption.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-298
Number of pages16
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2005


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