Nerdery, Snobbery and Connoisseurship: Developing conceptual clarity within the area of refined consumption

Competitive paper accepted at the 2014 Consumer Culture Theory Conference in Helsinki. I will be presenting the paper in the session “Engaged Fans” on Sat 28th of June.

As consumers in Western consumer culture have increasingly turned from high cultural to low cultural consumption categories to cultivate themselves, the meanings of the traditional and socio-cultural concepts used to represent different forms of consumer expertise have been blurred or altered. Drawing upon sociocultural literature on taste and distinction we attempt to provide theoretical clarity to the concepts of connoisseurship, snobbery, and nerdery; concepts that are often used interchangeably and without rigor in both (contemporary) popular and academic discourse. The outcome of our conceptual analysis is concretised using a semiotic square to illustrate how the concepts differ from each other. Our analysis suggests that the democratisation of consumption through the imprinting of status meanings upon traditionally illegitimate cultural objects may lead to the “bastardisation” of taste regarding those same illegitimate cultural categories – a performance formerly restricted to high culture.

Jon Bertilsson, Carys Egan-Wyer, Ulf Johansson, Marcus Klasson, Sofia Ulver

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