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“I take it you’ve read every book on the shelves?” Demonstrating Taste and Class Through Bookshelves in the Time of COVID

Marsden, Stevie



The national lockdowns brought in in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021 forced many people to work from home, including journalists, politicians, cultural commentators and celebrities. The familiar faces we would normally expect to see in television studios and sets, were now being beamed into our homes from their homes and we saw their kitchens, offices, and bedrooms. What at first seemed surreal and incongruous, soon became the norm. Viewers could not help but notice the most common: an individual sitting in the foreground with their background displaying shelves or stacks of books. As a result, books and bookshelves became an object du jour, representative of the owner's prestige and cultural cachet. This article argues that far from being a ubiquitous domestic item, such notions are socially constructed and perpetuate books as symbols of classed notions of cultural prestige and intellect.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 3, 2022
Online Publication Date Jul 8, 2022
Publication Date 2022
Deposit Date Jun 27, 2022
Publicly Available Date Jun 27, 2022
Print ISSN 0013-838X
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 103
Issue 5
Pages 660-674
Keywords books, COVID-19, bookshelves, class, taste, cultural value
Public URL


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