The pleasure of listening to music or playing a sport is obviously real. [Sociologist Pierre Bourdeiu’s] argument is that the kinds of music and sports we choose, and how we talk about them, are socially shaped – that the cultural filters and concepts that guide my interests in and reactions to music, clothes, films or home decoration come out of my class and field. At the worst I am conning myself, but to what I feel is my advantage.
It’s not so strange an idea that there are social subtexts to our tastes: You might be a Julliard music student with a trust fund who associates authenticity with the inner city or the backwoods, and feel a little realer yourself when you kick it to Snoop or clean the condo with some bluegrass on. You may be less enamored of what you imagine about frat boys or soccer moms, and avoid music that conjures up such listeners. Or if you are a soccer mom, you want to be the soccer mom who listens to Slayer, because you want to stay a little young and wild, not like those soccer moms who listen to Cheryl Crow.
In early twenty-first century terms, for most people under fifty, distinction boils down to cool. Cool confers status – symbolic power. It incorporates both cultural capital and social capital, and it’s a clear potential route to economic capital. Corporations and culture makers pursue it as much as individuals do. It changes attributes in different milieus. As much as we avow otherwise, few of us are truly indifferent to cool, not a little anxious about whether we have enough, and Bourdieu’s theory may illustrate why that’s not merely  shallow. Being uncool has material consequences. Sexual opportunity, career advancement and respect, even elemental security can ride on it. To ignore cool may mean risking downward mobility at a time when many people are falling out of the middle class.
Even being deliberately uncool doesn’t save you, as that’s an attempt to flip the rules in your favor. Having a “guilty pleasure,” for instance, can be an asset in this system of cultural capital because it suggests you are so cool that you can afford to risk it on something goofy, ungainly and awkward – which makes you that much cooler. A few people with real panache, like Andy Warhol or John Waters, can assemble taste profiles that are nothing but guilty pleasures and be ultra-cool, but that takes at least social capital, so that the kitsch-connoisseur can be distinguished from the doofus who just likes goofball stuff. (For you to be cool requires someone else be less cool).
The clearest way to understand the distinction may be in high school terms: Say you’re a white, nerdy fifteen-year old boy who listens to High School Musical but you come to see you have a chance at becoming friends with the tough kids who smoke behind the school. So you start listening to death metal and wearing hacked up jean jackets. This isn’t a ruse: you start to actually see what’s plausible and exciting for you about those tastes. Here, death metal is cultural capital, high school cliques are the field and your habitus [the attitudes, abilities and expectation your upbringing nurtured] is what’s likely to determine whether you can carry off the slang and the haircut. Your instinct is to distinguish yourself from the nerds by becoming one of the tough kids, who, incidentally, hate High  School Musical with a vengeance, because that’s what nerds listen to. That’s distinction.
Maybe I am making too much out of an incidental example, or I missed something elsewhere in the book that explains it, but i need a little help with the bit about "you come to see you have a chance at becoming friends with the tough kids who smoke behind the school. So you start listening to death metal." I feel like you cannot explain taste in music with reference to wanting to be a part of a certain social group, because it just moves the question of taste from music to people without answering it at all. The person likes death metal to get in with the tough kids but why does he admire the tough kids? And if it is just some psychological thing, then the question of taste in music is psychological rather than sociological, isn't it? It just sort of feels like those movies where a character wants to know where human life comes from and the answer turns out to be aliens -- isn't the next question Where do the aliens come from? Where does human life come from is really about where does life of any kind come from isn't it?