The Dynamics of distinction and cultural omnivorousness in the culinary field of Turkey

Yalvaç, Nihal Simay
Over the last decades, many studies adopting a Bourdieusian perspective point out how consumption practices and tastes are influential in constructing, differentiating and reproducing class identities. However, after 1990s, much attention has been centered upon the cultural omnivore debate that points to the changing dynamics in established cultural hierarchies. Ultimately, the emergence of eclectic tastes engendered a tension between distinction and cultural omnivorousness. This thesis offers an analysis of this tension by focusing on food and eating practices of a specific group in Ankara/Turkey. The research draws on interviews and small group discussions with upper middle class’ regular customers of, ‘low-key’, ‘authentic’ but trendy locations. Seizing these seemingly omnivorous consumers’ dispositions, tastes and judgment schemas regarding their food habits is crucial; in terms of comprehending to what extent they display similar omnivore patterns in their other eating practices. The findings of the qualitative research suggest that crossing the boundaries and stepping out of the comfort zone depends on certain dynamics such as the timing of the meal, occasion and particular ways of consuming. It also shows that western/traditional hierarchy continues to apply in general eating dispositions of upper middle class whilst crossing this boundary, is considered authentic in some limited omnivorous consumption moments. Within the scope of this study, it appears that ‘distinction’ can be still marked either in doings or sayings of individuals. Hence, this thesis contributes to the studies on local consumption fields and class cultural processes in Turkey by, at the same time, engaging with the discussions amid distinction and omnivorousness. 
Citation Formats
N. S. Yalvaç, “The Dynamics of distinction and cultural omnivorousness in the culinary field of Turkey,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2016.