Disgust and Distinction: The case of the jellied eel

Rhys-Taylor, Alex. 2013. Disgust and Distinction: The case of the jellied eel. The Sociological Review, 61(2), pp. 227-246. ISSN 0038-0261 [Article]

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Drawing on a series of ethnographic encounters collected while hanging around at a seafood stand in east London, the following article aims to explore the relationship between individual expressions of distaste and the production of class, ethnic and generational forms of distinction. Starting with the visceral expressions of distaste directed towards a seafood stand, the following paragraphs draw on a combination of historical and ethnographic data rendered through a matrix of anthropological, sociological and psychoanalytic theory, to explore the role of everyday ambient experiences and the stratifying processes that cut across the lives of the city's inhabitants. Arguing against purely biological explanations of disgust, the paper explores how social histories and cultural experience inflect gut responses to the sensoria that suffuse urban environments. Moving the focus beyond the social construction of urban sensibilities, the paper goes on to develop an account of culturally inflected forms of distaste, shaping the city and the lives of its inhabitants.

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May 2013Submitted

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04 Jun 2013 07:42

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29 Apr 2020 15:51

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