Taste is an acquired disposition to ‘differentiate’ and ‘appreciate’, as Kant says – in other words, to establish and mark differences by a process of distinction which is not (or not necessarily ) a distinct knowledge, in Leibniz’s sense, since it ensures recognition (in the ordinary sense ) of the object without implying knowledge of the distinctive features which define it.
Taste is a practical mastery of distributions which makes it possible to sense or intuit what is likely (or unlikely ) to befall – and therefore to befit – an individual occupying a given position in social space. It functions as a sort of social orientation, a ‘sense of one’s place’, guiding the occupants of a given place in social space towards the social positions adjusted to their properties, and towards the practices or goods which befit the occupants of that position.
It implies a practical anticipation of what the social meaning and value of the chosen practice or thing will probably be, given their distribution in social space and the practical knowledge the other agents have of the correspondence between goods and groups.
Everything takes place as if the social conditionings linked to a social condition tended to inscribe the relation to the social world in a lasting, generalized relation to one’s own body, a way of bearing one’s body, presenting it to others, moving it, making space for it, which gives the body its social physiognomy. Bodily hexis, a basic dimension of the sense of social orientation, is a practical way of experiencing and expressing one’s own sense of social value. One’s relationship to the social world and to one’s proper place in it is never more clearly expressed than in the space and time one feels entitled to take from others; more precisely, in the space one claims with one’s body in physical space, through a bearing and gestures that are self-assured or reserved, expansive or constricted (‘presence’ or ‘insignificance’ ) and with one’s speech in time, through the interaction time one appropriates and the self-assured or aggressive, careless or unconscious way one appropriates it.
P. Bourdieu – Distinction