Is Bourdieu right

Arguments against
Taste determining class
What’s Bourdieu saying??
 “The distinction recognized in all dominant classes and in all their
properties takes different forms depending on the state of the
distinctive signs of ‘class’ that are effectively available. In the case of
the production of the production of cultural goods at least, the
relation between supply experts an effect of symbolic imposition.”
Pierre Bourdieu on the correspondance between goods production
and taste production (‘Distinction’ page 231)
 He means that our agents of socialisation teach us the connection
between taste and class (however superficial).
In this picture taste reflects the low
class and possition of this person.
•Believe aspects of personal and collective identity are created, maintained and
transformed through consumption and the idea of consumerism.
•‘Individuals harbor an authentic self that can only be distorted by seductions of
consumer culture.’- Craig J. Thompson
•Consumerism provides symbolic tools that construct and re-construct identity
through leisure practices (for example rave culture and the Star Wars community)
•Juliet Schor: ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’. This means that people wish to gain
a higher social status through consumerism, for example if someones’ friend has
a Blackberry phone and he has a less valuable phone, he’ll want to buy a
Blackberry to improve his social status, and vice versa.
•The idea of consumerism is also seen in the series ‘Shameless’. The main
character has a very run down house and is of a lower class, but has an Xbox 360
and large screen television.
The same person...
Ralph Lauren
Gold chair
How Pierre Bourdieu perceives it.
Cultural Capital the knowledge of certain attributes. Such as knowledge of music,
taste , clothing, language ( the elaborate codes used where Bernstein suggest
upper class uses elaborate whilst working class use restricted). Upper class listen
to classical whilst lower listen to country/folk music. “Posh” people would wear
suits and dresses whilst “Poor” people wear ragged clothing
Social Capital is the people you know or associate with like the people like you in
the same class or circle. So rich people associated with the rich and not mix with
anyone below or poor and same goes for poor people.
Economic capital is about the income earned and what properties owned that
distinguish and shows how “rich” you are. All materialistic items which people
desire is the must have.
How it is NOW
Cultural Capital
Today elaborate and restricted codes are used by both upper and lower classes.
Different tastes in food now all classes enjoy mixtures of fast food and fine dining and
the music listened to are not authentic for upper class such as classical but also popular
music and working class do listening to classical but it is all a mixture of taste and no fine
distinctions for classes as before.
Social Capital
When associating with others in modern society it is not expected to stay with allocated
groups such as rich with rich and poor with poor. Especially talking about school children
and teenagers; they have subcultures/subgroups such as emo’s, chavs, trendies, hipsters
etc. The subgroups have a mixture of backgrounds who share relatively the same
ideologies and norms.
Economic Capital
Before you would only hear about upper class displaying their consumer culture with
their gardens, lawns, gazebo’s and extension to their houses but now working class and
middle classes have these consumer consumptions with also pools and items such as
How it is now- the ironies of Bourdieu’s theory.
With the rise of both post modernism and consumer culture the ideas of class and taste are
inverted, and Bourdieu’s theory becomes rather ironic. Take Yuppies for example.
Yuppies are young urban professionals that commonly work in the financial sector. Due to
their nature they often have high social and economic capital, but have quite a superficial
cultural capital... They are an example of social mobility and new money in action. They may
be rich and within a prestigious circle of individuals, but their cultural capital often lacks, and
without the fulfilment of all three capitals true class qualities are never established.
Another irony is the stereotypical ‘Chav’ who is portrayed to wear Burberry. If
anyone looks into the background of Burberry they would realise how
expensive the original brand products are.
And it’s the same with most current ‘popular’ culture products, such as ‘Dre
Beats’ and designer clothing- they are actually very expensive...
To conclude
Class is no longer determined by taste thanks to the rise of consumer culture
“Our enormously productive economy… demands that we make consumption
our way of life, that we convert the buying and using of goods into rituals, that
we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption… we
need things consumed, burned up, replaced and discarded at an ever increasing
rate.” (Victor Lebow)
From a post structuralist point of view class struggle through
commodification/consumer culture is no longer an issue. However we are faced
with a new issue- ‘Affluenza’ “a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition
of overload, debt, anxiety and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more”