Sensory knowledge and embodied cultural capital among coffee connoissuers in west and central Alabama
Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste (1984) by Pierre Bourdieu is arguably the most influential book on consumption practices in anthropology. The purpose of the book is to describe the concept of cultural capital in creating and maintaining social difference. Cultural capital acts in conjunction with economic and social capital to situate individuals in social space. The contemporary popularity of artisan and craft goods calls for a reexamination of cultural capital’s role in creating class boundaries in the United States. My research explores cultural capital in the new movement of third wave coffee. Using methods developed in cognitive anthropology, namely cultural consensus analysis and residual agreement analysis, I explored cultural knowledge and cultural capital among the third wave coffee community of Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, Alabama. I was specifically focused on the cultural capital, in the form of sensory, to distinguish connoisseur consumers from casual consumers. Studies of capital and class are particularly important in third wave coffee, and related craft movements This is because these industries appear to be changing the status quo by bringing economic capital into the communities in which their product is created or sourced. While these industries may be changing one aspect of the status quo they are most likely maintaining other aspects of the status quo by recreating class divisions in modern consumption patterns.