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Distinction Pierre Bourdieu

Distinction By Pierre Bourdieu

Distinction by Pierre Bourdieu

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Distinction is at once a vast ethnography of contemporary France and a dissection of the bourgeois mind. Bourdieu's subject is the study of culture, and his objective is most ambitious: to provide an answer to the problems raised by Kant's Critique of Judgment by showing why no judgment of taste is innocent.

Distinction Summary

Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste by Pierre Bourdieu

No judgment 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 focuses 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 French person'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 judgment.

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.

Distinction Reviews

A book of extraordinary intelligence. -- Irving Louis Horowitz * Commonweal *
One of the more distinguished contributions to social theory and research in recent years... There is in this book an account of culture, and a methodology of its study, rich in implication for a diversity of fields of social research. The work in some ways redefines the whole scope of cultural studies. -- Anthony Giddens * Partisan Review *
Bourdieu's analysis transcends the usual analysis of conspicuous consumption in two ways: by showing that specific judgments and chokes matter less than an esthetic outlook in general and by showing, moreover, that the acquisition of an esthetic outlook not only advertises upper-class prestige but helps to keep the lower orders in line. In other words, the esthetic world view serves as an instrument of domination. It serves the interests not merely of status but of power. It does this, according to Bourdieu, by emphasizing individuality, rivalry, and 'distinction' and by devaluing the well-being of society as a whole. -- Christopher Lasch * Vogue *
A complex, rich, intelligent book. It will provide the historian of the future with priceless materials and it will bring an essential contribution to sociological theory. -- Fernand Braudel

About Pierre Bourdieu

Pierre Bourdieu was a French sociologist, anthropologist, and philosopher.

Table of Contents

Preface to the English-Language Edition Introduction PART I A SOCIAL CRITIQUE OF THE JUDGEMENT OF TASTE 1. The Aristocracy of Culture The Titles of Cultural Nobility Cultural Pedigree PART II THE ECONOMY OF PRACTICES 2. The Social Space and Its Transformations Class Condition and Social Conditioning A Three-Dimensional Space Reconversion Strategies 3. The Habitus and the Space of Life-Styles The Homology between the Spaces The Universes of Stylistic Possibles 4. The Dynamics of the Fields The Correspondence between Goods Production and Taste Production Symbolic Struggles PART III CLASS TASTES AND LIFE-STYLES 5. The Sense of Distinction The Modes of Appropriation of the Work of Art The Variants of the Dominant Taste The Mark of Time Temporal and Spiritual Powers 6. Cultural Goodwill Knowledge and Recognition Education and the Autodidact Slope and Thrust The Variants of PetitBourgeois Taste The Declining Petite Bourgeoisie The Executant Petite Bourgeoisie The New Petite Bourgeoisie From Duty to the Fun Ethic 7. The Choice of the Necessary The Taste for Necessity and the Principle of Conformity The Effects of Domination 8. Culture and Politics Selective Democracy Status and Competence The Right to Speak Personal Opinion The Modes of Production of Opinion Dispossession and Misappropriation Moral Order and Political Order Class Habirus and Political Opinions Supply and Demand The Political Space The Specific Effect of Trajectory Political Language Conclusion: Classes and Classifications Embodied Social Structures Knowledge without Concepts Advantageous Attributions The Classification Struggle The Reality of Representation and the Representation of Reality Postscript: Towards a 'Vulgar' Critique of 'Pure' Critiques Disgust at the 'Facile' The 'Taste of Reflection' and the 'Taste of Sense' A Denied Social Relationship Parerga and Paralipomena The Pleasure of the Text Appendices 1. Some Reflections on the Method 2. Complementary Sources 3. Statistical Data 4. Associations: A Parlour Game Notes Credits Index

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Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste by Pierre Bourdieu
Used - Very Good
Harvard University Press
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