William Morris, cultural leadership, and the dynamics of taste

Charles Harvey, Jon Press, Mairi Maclean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (SciVal)
332 Downloads (Pure)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-271
Number of pages27
JournalBusiness History Review
Issue number2
Early online date28 Jun 2011
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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