Quality TV and Social Distinction: An Experiment on How Complex Television Series Valorize Their Users


  • Daniela M. Schlütz Filmuniversität Babelsberg Konrad Wolf
  • Katharina Emde - Lachmund Hanover University of Music, Drama, and Media
  • Helmut Scherer Hanover University of Music, Drama, and Media
  • Jonas Wedemeyer Hanover University of Music, Drama, and Media




quality TV, TV series, theory of distinction, symbolic capital, cultural capital


This paper addresses the question as to whether serial quality TV has the potential to valorize its fans. We draw on Bourdieu’s theory of distinction, assuming that demonstrated preference for a specific cultural taste has consequences for the attribution of capital endowment overall, and especially within an adept group. These assumptions are tested via a 3 (preference for high-culture vs. conventional television vs. quality TV series) x 1 online experiment with between subject design plus control group (N = 389). Results showed that conspicuously favouring serial quality TV has the potential to function as a distinctive sign – at least to some extent. Significantly more cultural capital is ascribed to a quality TV fan than to a person showing a preference for conventional television. Within a certain group of connoisseurs, a quality TV taste is even worth as much as a preference for high-culture. Implications are discussed with regard to the theory of distinction and quality TV series as the object of investigation.


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How to Cite

Schlütz, D. M., Emde - Lachmund, K., Scherer, H., & Wedemeyer, J. (2018). Quality TV and Social Distinction: An Experiment on How Complex Television Series Valorize Their Users. Series - International Journal of TV Serial Narratives, 4(2), 61–75. https://doi.org/10.6092/issn.2421-454X/8216



Culture / Reception / Consumption