Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste

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Overview

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.
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Editorial Reviews

Commonweal

A book of extraordinary intelligence.
— Irving Louis Horowitz

Partisan Review

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

Vogue

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

Commonweal - Irving Louis Horowitz
A book of extraordinary intelligence.
Partisan Review - Anthony Giddens
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.
Vogue - Christopher Lasch
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.
From the Publisher
'In this rich and probing guide to the strategies of pretension in contemporary France, Bourdieu describes how class segments separate from each other by their contrasting attitudes towards art and beauty.' - The Observer
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674212770
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/1987
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 640
  • Sales rank: 553,047
  • Product dimensions: 6.08 (w) x 9.19 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Pierre Bourdieu (1930–2002) was one of France’s leading sociologists. Champion of the anti-globalization movement, his work spanned a broad range of subjects, from ethnography to art, and education to television.

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Table of Contents

Preface to the English-Language Edition xi
Introduction 1
Part I A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste 9
1 The Aristocracy of Culture 11
The Titles of Cultural Nobility 18
Cultural Pedigree 63
Part II The Economy of Practices 97
2 The Social Space and Its Transformations 99
Class Condition and Social Conditioning 101
A Three-Dimensional Space 114
Reconversion Strategies 125
3 The Habitus and the Space of Life-Styles 169
The Homology between the Spaces 175
The Universes of Stylistic Possibles 208
4 The Dynamics of the Fields 226
The Correspondence between Goods Production and Taste Production 230
Symbolic Struggles 244
Part III Class Tastes and Life-Styles 257
5 The Sense of Distinction 260
The Modes of Appropriation of the Work of Art 267
The Variants of the Dominant Taste 283
The Mark of Time 295
Temporal and Spiritual Powers 315
6 Cultural Goodwill 318
Knowledge and Recognition 319
Education and the Autodidact 328
Slope and Thrust 331
The Variants of Petit-Bourgeois Taste 339
The Declining Petite Bourgeoisie 346
The Executant Petite Bourgeoisie 351
The New Petite Bourgeoisie 354
From Duty to the Fun Ethic 365
7 The Choice of the Necessary 372
The Taste for Necessity and the Principle of Conformity 374
The Effects of Domination 386
8 Culture and Politics 397
Selective Democracy 399
Status and Competence 405
The Right to Speak 411
Personal Opinion 414
The Modes of Production of Opinion 417
Dispossession and Misappropriation 426
Moral Order and Political Order 432
Class Habitus and Political Opinions 437
Supply and Demand 440
The Political Space 451
The Specific Effect of Trajectory 453
Political Language 459
Conclusion: Classes and Classifications 466
Embodied Social Structures 467
Knowledge without Concepts 470
Advantageous Attributions 475
The Classification Struggle 479
The Reality of Representation and the Representation of Reality 482
Postscript: Towards a 'Vulgar' Critique of 'Pure' Critiques 485
Disgust at the 'Facile' 486
The 'Taste of Reflection' and the 'Taste of Sense' 488
A Denied Social Relationship 491
Parerga and Paralipomena 494
The Pleasure of the Text 498
Appendices 503
1 Some Reflections on the Method 503
2 Complementary Sources 519
3 Statistical Data 525
4 Associations: A Parlour Game 546
Notes 561
Credits 605
Index 607
Tables
1 Class preferences for singers and music 15
2 Aesthetic disposition, by education capital 36
3 Aesthetic disposition, by class and education 37
4 Knowledge of composers and musical works, by education and class of origin 64
5 Furniture purchases in the dominant class, by education and social origin 78
6 Some indicators of economic capital in different fractions of the dominant class, 1966 117
7 Some indicators of cultural practice in different fractions of the dominant class, 1966 118
8 Types of books preferred by different fractions of the dominant class, 1966 119
9 Social origin of members of the dominant class, by class fraction, 1970 121
10 Rate of employment of women aged 25-34, by education, 1962 and 1968 134
11 Changes in morphology and asset structure of the class fractions, 1954-1975 136
12 Changes in morphology and asset structure of the class fractions, 1954-1968 138
13 Morphological changes within the dominant class, 1954-1975 140
14 Morphological changes within the middle class, 1954-1975 140
15 Changes in class morphology and use of educational system, 1954-1968 158
16 Annual household expenditures on food: skilled manual workers, foremen and clerical workers, 1972 181
17 Yearly spending by teachers, professionals and industrial and commercial employers, 1972 184
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