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  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 1987-10-15
  • Publisher: Harvard Univ Pr

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No judgement of taste is innocent. In a word, we are all snobs. Pierre Bourdieu brilliantly illuminates this situation of the middle class in the modern world. France's leading sociologist focusses here on the French bourgeoisie, its tastes and preferences. Distinction is at once a vast ethnography of contemporary France and a dissection of the bourgeois mind.In the course of everyday life people constantly choose between what they find aesthetically pleasing and what they consider tacky, merely trendy, or ugly. Bourdieu bases his study on surveys that took into account the multitude of social factors that play a part in a Frenchperson's choice of clothing, furniture, leisure activities, dinner menus for guests, and many other matters of taste. What emerges from his analysis is that social snobbery is everywhere in the bourgeois world. The different aesthetic choices people make are all distinctions-that is, choices made in opposition to those made by other classes. Taste is not pure. Bourdieu finds a world of social meaning in the decision to order bouillabaisse, in our contemporary cult of thinness, in the "California sports" such as jogging and cross-country skiing. The social world, he argues, functions simultaneously as a system of power relations and as a symbolic system in which minute distinctions of taste become the basis for social judgement.The topic of Bourdieu's book is a fascinating one: the strategies of social pretension are always curiously engaging. But the book is more than fascinating. It is a major contribution to current debates on the theory of culture and a challenge to the major theoretical schools in contemporary sociology.

Author Biography

Pierre Bourdieu is Professor of Sociology at the College de France, Paris

Table of Contents

Preface to the English-Language Editionp. xi
Introductionp. 1
A Social Critique of the Judgement of Tastep. 9
The Aristocracy of Culturep. 11
The Titles of Cultural Nobilityp. 18
Cultural Pedigreep. 63
The Economy of Practicesp. 97
The Social Space and Its Transformationsp. 99
Class Condition and Social Conditioningp. 101
A Three-Dimensional Spacep. 114
Reconversion Strategiesp. 125
The Habitus and the Space of Life-Stylesp. 169
The Homology between the Spacesp. 175
The Universes of Stylistic Possiblesp. 208
The Dynamics of the Fieldsp. 226
The Correspondence between Goods Production and Taste Productionp. 230
Symbolic Strugglesp. 244
Class Tastes and Life-Stylesp. 257
The Sense of Distinctionp. 260
The Modes of Appropriation of the Work of Artp. 267
The Variants of the Dominant Tastep. 283
The Mark of Timep. 295
Temporal and Spiritual Powersp. 315
Cultural Goodwillp. 318
Knowledge and Recognitionp. 319
Education and the Autodidactp. 328
Slope and Thrustp. 331
The Variants of Petit-Bourgeois Tastep. 339
The Declining Petite Bourgeoisiep. 346
The Executant Petite Bourgeoisiep. 351
The New Petite Bourgeoisiep. 354
From Duty to the Fun Ethicp. 365
The Choice of the Necessaryp. 372
The Taste for Necessity and the Principle of Conformityp. 374
The Effects of Dominationp. 386
Culture and Politicsp. 397
Selective Democracyp. 399
Status and Competencep. 405
The Right to Speakp. 411
Personal Opinionp. 414
The Modes of Production of Opinionp. 417
Dispossession and Misappropriationp. 426
Moral Order and Political Orderp. 432
Class Habitus and Political Opinionsp. 437
Supply and Demandp. 440
The Political Spacep. 451
The Specific Effect of Trajectoryp. 453
Political Languagep. 459
Conclusion: Classes and Classificationsp. 466
Embodied Social Structuresp. 467
Knowledge without Conceptsp. 470
Advantageous Attributionsp. 475
The Classification Strugglep. 479
The Reality of Representation and the Representation of Realityp. 482
Postscript: Towards a 'Vulgar' Critique of 'Pure' Critiquesp. 485
Disgust at the 'Facile'p. 486
The 'Taste of Reflection' and the 'Taste of Sense'p. 488
A Denied Social Relationshipp. 491
Parerga and Paralipomenap. 494
The Pleasure of the Textp. 498
Appendicesp. 503
Some Reflections on the Methodp. 503
Complementary Sourcesp. 519
Statistical Datap. 525
Associations: A Parlour Gamep. 546
Notesp. 561
Creditsp. 605
Indexp. 607
Class preferences for singers and musicp. 15
Aesthetic disposition, by education capitalp. 36
Aesthetic disposition, by class and educationp. 37
Knowledge of composers and musical works, by education and class of originp. 64
Furniture purchases in the dominant class, by education and social originp. 78
Some indicators of economic capital in different fractions of the dominant class, 1966p. 117
Some indicators of cultural practice in different fractions of the dominant class, 1966p. 118
Types of books preferred by different fractions of the dominant class, 1966p. 119
Social origin of members of the dominant class, by class fraction, 1970p. 121
Rate of employment of women aged 25-34, by education, 1962 and 1968p. 134
Changes in morphology and asset structure of the class fractions, 1954-1975p. 136
Changes in morphology and asset structure of the class fractions, 1954-1968p. 138
Morphological changes within the dominant class, 1954-1975p. 140
Morphological changes within the middle class, 1954-1975p. 140
Changes in class morphology and use of educational system, 1954-1968p. 158
Annual household expenditures on food: skilled manual workers, foremen and clerical workers, 1972p. 181
Yearly spending by teachers, professionals and industrial and commercial employers, 1972p. 184
Table of Contents provided by Rittenhouse. All Rights Reserved.

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