A problem in thinking about taste hierarchies is the impulse for the reformed elitist to wish to embrace the low, popular, mass, vulgar, etc., and yet - in the process of vocal exculpation - recuperate these objects for the high. Specifically, the low objects are (re)integrated into a kind of high grammar. One of the privileged instances of this is the heroic mythos of the Cahiers du cinéma critics, who "realized" that Hitchcock and Hawks could be spoken of like Racine or Shakespeare.
They realized it. Apologies for the very poor Derrida imitation, but let me suggest that my deliberate use of this word (to realize) is meant to convey something of the double meaning that is buried in this mythology of taste. The evident meaning of this "realization" is a recognition and subsequent acknowledgment. But what it actually entails is the making real of a value judgment. The Cahiers critics put these ideas into circulation.
The recuperation of the popular artist for high tradition (Shakespeare is the ultimate example) is, itself, an "always already" excavated gambit for anyone who wishes to defend the legitimacy of a particular, relatively contemporary piece of popular culture. "Dude, you don't think Two and a Half Men has a particular type of genius? You dismiss it just because tons of people watch it? Well look, Shakespeare was popular, too." Substitute Harry Potter or any number of objects for Two and a Half Men. The logic at work here is that, time and again, prevalent elitist tastes have been shown to have "wrongly" dismissed or at least unfairly pigeonholed popular works of their era. We see it over and over again. Shakespeare, Hitchcock, Guiding Light. "It's an objective pattern, don't blame me if I'm a little further ahead of the curve than you are. It's history ... but as logical and predictable as a science experiment!"
I don't propose that a rigid, reductive high-middle-low scale is any better than this operation. For my part, do bring on Bourdieu, and while you're at it bring on White Chicks. (Coherence and reason are great things when discussing particularities. But I neither require nor desire my own tastes to be subordinated to the laws of coherence or logic.) But I do think this rhetoric of realization has survived too long as a truism, a crutch, a replacement for thought, and a lazy & unearned badge worn to denote anti-elitism. And it's always convenient to pose as an anti-elitist in terms of cultural tastes when you exist in the heart of capitalism. The signification of tastes is indeed a political question, but perhaps more politically pressing is when that question comes to eclipse any & all others as the only political question.