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Arguments against. Taste determining class. What’s Bourdieu saying??.

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Arguments against

Arguments against

Taste determining class

What s bourdieu saying

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).

Yes in this picture taste reflects the low class and possition of this person but


In this picture taste reflects the low class and possition of this person.


Is Bourdieu right ?


  • 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

The same person...

Ralph Lauren


Gold chair







Arguments against

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.

Arguments against

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 trampolines.

Arguments against

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.

Arguments against


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...

Arguments against

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”

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