Seven Dimensions of Taste in a Sociological and Educational Perspective

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The chapter presents a sociological theory of taste ending with a short proposal for a didactics of taste. The first section is inspired and informed by the German sociologist Niklas Luhmann’s systems theory. It deals with taste in a sociological perspective. The basic idea is that taste is more than what our taste buds and our senses tell us. Taste has a number of social and cultural dimensions such as deliciousness, health, morality, love, faith, and trendiness, and in fact, we can only communicate about taste, when these dimensions are taken into consideration. We sense with the taste buds, but we taste with the “cultural senses”. This section presents a systematic division of taste into its seven main dimensions: The dimension of sensed taste, delicious taste, healthy taste, moral taste, loving taste, religious taste, and trendy taste.
The final, shorter section comprises taste as an instrument of and an objective for teaching. Here, the intention is to use ‘taste’ as a means to teach home economics and food education. This section answers the question of how to teach in a way that enables the students to develop knowledge and skills in relation to the seven dimensions of taste. In this section, seven knowledge types and forms of argument are presented, each related to one of the seven taste dimensions, providing a basis for structuring an appropriate curriculum of taste. The final aim is to enable students to make well-reasoned food decisions with ‘taste’ as the compass of judgment and, with these faculties, to take part in a sensus communis, i.e. a taste community.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGastronomy and food science
EditorsCharis Galanakis
Number of pages55
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 20 Oct 2019

Bibliographical note

Karen Wistoft is a professor of learning, cooking, tasting and wellbeing in school at the Danish School of Education (DPU), Aarhus University, Tuborgvej 164, DK-2400 Copenhagen, Denmark; e-mail: Her research is affiliated with the National Centre for School Research inclusive the Danish Academy of Home Economics Education at Aarhus University and the Department of Food and Health at University College HVL in Bergen, Norway. Her interests center on a new and highly innovative pedagogical and educational research environment dealing with students’ tasting, food knowledge and skills, well-being and learning in primary and secondary school, in both indoor and outdoor education. She produces empirical based evidence and develops new knowledge and theories regarding: a) taste experiences and competence as well as acquisition of taste knowledge and skills relevant to well-being, b) implementation of food knowledge and cooking experience in producing wellbeing and c) new taste didactics towards food education in a participatory and critical learning perspective.
Lars Qvortrup is a professor of education science at the Danish School of Education (DPU), Aarhus University, Tuborgvej 164, DK-2400 Copenhagen, Denmark; e-mail: He is currently head of a national project evaluating the effectiveness of teacher collaboration such as professional learning communities for teachers’ professional satisfaction, the quality of teaching and students’ learning outcomes. His interests focus on data and evidence informed school development and school leadership, on teachers’ performance of professional judgment, and on the development of the School Effectiveness paradigm. Together with Karen Wistoft he is currently developing a systematic didactics of taste. Since 1983 Lars Qvortrup has written and/or edited more than 40 books in Danish or English and more than 200 articles in Danish and international readers and journals.

    Research areas

  • Taste, Taste dimensions, Systems Theory, Food education, Didatics, Sociology

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