On Taste, Collecting and Pinterest

“I can only imagine what Pierre Bourdieu would have thought about the new (?) social-networking site, Pinterest. Were the French sociologist still alive, he may notice Pinterest makes visible the otherwise elusive characteristic that was the major subject of his research. Taste, Bourdieu proposed, was a socially learned preference – often taken for granted, but always a reflection of a subject’s understanding of their place within a social structure. The term he preferred was habitus.


Pinterest is not just an insight into popular taste, it is a potential resource for the design historian seeking to understand the material culture of everyday life. For these historians, magazines, objects, and inventories form the major archive for their research.  Like the magazine, pinboards reflect the aspirational desires of the Pinner, but unlike such publications, the consumer (in the guise of a collector) is made visible. Pinterest provides a way to consume without purchasing, to collect without owning. The networking site puts the consumer on display alongside consumption itself.


However, this immaterial realm has a distinct connection to the physical. A curiosity cabinet of representations, the territory of both the amateur and the professional tastemaker, Pinterest has become a space to collect and decorate our virtual bodies with our physical habitus.”

The Craft of Writing, part III: Digital Adornment by Marilyn Zapf @ UnMaking Things/RCA


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