Beyond Class Stratification: The Rise of the Eclectic Music Consumer in the Modern Age

Massimiliano Nuccio, Marco Guerzoni, Tally Katz-Gerro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article contributes to the literature on the association between class position and cultural tastes by analyzing a unique historical data set and asking whether there were significant class differences in the consumption of music in the 19th century. Archival data from a publisher in Milan are used to analyze the characteristics of customers who purchased sheet music between 1814 and 1823. To avoid contemporary depictions of cultural hierarchies (e.g. ‘highbrow’, ‘lowbrow’ and ‘omnivorous’ tastes), we offer a new method for considering both the quantitative and qualitative dimensions of music consumption. Considering both the aggregate level of music consumption and the evolution of individual patterns over time, we find little evidence that musical tastes were aligned with class position. This finding calls for more research on the origins of the strong link between social structure and cultural preferences in general, or between class position and musical tastes in particular, which we witness today.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-367
Number of pages25
JournalCultural Sociology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018.


  • 19th century
  • Class stratification
  • Milan
  • Ricordi
  • cultural consumption
  • eclecticism
  • opera music
  • publishing
  • sheet music
  • taste

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • General Social Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'Beyond Class Stratification: The Rise of the Eclectic Music Consumer in the Modern Age'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this