Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

William Morris, Cultural Leadership, and the Dynamics of Taste


This examination of the social processes that inform cultural production asks how tastes are formed, transmitted, embedded, and reproduced across generations. These questions are explored through a study of William Morris, his working methods and products, and their impact on the decorative arts in Victorian Britain and beyond. Through the exercise of cultural leadership, Morris gave physical expression to the ideals and sentiments of Romanticism, and this in turn gave rise to a community of taste reaching across class boundaries and generations. Morrisian products and designs, through the agency of his disciples, became institutionally embedded, emblematic of refinement and good taste. A process model of taste formation is deployed to explore the economic and social dynamics at work in the Morris case and more generally.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Jukka Gronow , “Taste and Fashion: The Social Function of Fashion and Style,” Acta Sociologica 36 (1993): 89100

Douglas B. Holt , “Does Cultural Capital Structure American Consumption?Journal of Consumer Research 25 (1998): 125

Heinz–Dieter Mayer , “Taste Formation in Pluralistic Societies: The Role of Rhetorics and Institutions,” International Sociology 15 (2000): 3356

Albert M. Muniz and Thomas C. O'Guinn , “Brand Community,” Journal of Consumer Research 27 (2001): 412–32

Charles Harvey and Jon Press , “The Marketing of Art,” Business History 28 (1986): 3654

Charles Harvey and Jon Press , “John Ruskin and the Ethical Foundations of Morris & Company,” Journal of Business Ethics 14 (1995): 181–94

Margaret M. Bubolz , “Family as Source, User and Builder of Social Capital,” Journal of Socio-Economics 30 (2001): 129–31

Pierre Bourdieu , “On the Family as a Realized Category,” Theory, Culture and Society 13 (1996): 26

Brian S. Turner and June Edmunds , “The Distaste of Taste: Bourdieu, Cultural Capital and the Australian Postwar Elite,” Journal of Consumer Culture 2 (2002): 231

Grant McCracken , “Culture and Consumption: A Theoretical Account of the Structure and Movement of the Cultural Meaning of Goods,” Journal of Consumer Research 13 (1986): 7184

Richard G. Wilson and Alan L. Mackley , “How Much did the English Country House Cost to Build, 1660–1880?Economic History Review 52 (1999): 436–68

Morris B. Holbrook and Elizabeth C. Hirschman , “The Experiential Aspects of Consumption: Consumer Fantasies, Feelings and Fun,” Journal of Consumer Research 9 (1982): 132–40

Douglas B. Holt , “How Consumers Consume: A Typology of Consumption Practices,” Journal of Consumer Research 22 (1995): 116

Paul J. DiMaggio , “Classification in Art,” American Sociological Review 52 (1987): 443–46

Craig Calhoun and Loïc Wacquant , “Social Science with a Conscience: Remembering Pierre Bourdieu (1930–2002),” Thesis Eleven 70 (2002): 7

Andrew B. Trigg , “Veblen, Bourdieu, and Conspicuous Consumption,” Journal of Economic Issues 35 (2001): 113

Paul J. DiMaggio , “Cultural Entrepreneurship in Nineteenth Century Boston, Part 2: The Classification and Framing of American Art,” Media, Culture and Society 4 (1982): 303–22

Paul J. DiMaggio and Walter W. Powell , “The Iron Cage Revisited: Institutional Isomorphism and Collective Rationality in Organizational Fields,” American Sociological Review 48 (1983): 4760

Colin Campbell , “Conspicuous Confusion? A Critique of Veblen's Theory of Conspicuous Consumption,” Sociological Theory 13 (1995): 3747

Herbert Blumer , “Fashion: From Class Differentiation to Collective Selection,” Sociological Quarterly 10 (1969): 275–91

David Gartman , “Culture as Class Symbolization or Mass Reification? A Critique of Bourdieu's Distinction,” American Journal of Sociology 97 (1991): 421–27

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Business History Review
  • ISSN: 0007-6805
  • EISSN: 2044-768X
  • URL: /core/journals/business-history-review
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 56 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 229 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 20th July 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.