The Role of Ordinary Evaluations in the Market for Popular Culture: Do Consumers Have “Good Taste”?
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If we define “good taste” as that prescribed by professional experts in a particular cultural field and ask whether ordinary consumers (non-experts or members of the mass audience) have “good taste,” the evidence from previous studies suggests that the relationship between expert judgments and popular appeal to ordinary consumers is significantly but only weakly positive and is therefore consistent with a phenomenon of “little taste.” Possible explanations stem from the consideration of a variable that might mediate and thereby weaken the relationship between expert judgments and popular appeal—namely, ordinary evaluations, in which non-expert consumers assess the excellence (rather than the enjoyability) of a cultural offering. An earlier experimental study of musical performances showed that ordinary evaluations did intervene between expert judgments and popular appeal to college students so that, in this sense, ordinary consumers did display aspects of “good taste”. New data on over 200 motion pictures corroborate this finding in another cultural context, with actual audience members, and through the use of real-world as opposed to experimental observations.
Keywordsexpert judgments ordinary evaluations popular appeal professional critics mass audiences motion pictures consumer tastes
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