Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste

Front Cover
Harvard University Press, 1984 - Social Science - 613 pages
19 Reviews

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.

  

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Review: Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste

User Review  - Tony Gualtieri - Goodreads

It's dated, overlong, and the prose is convoluted; however, the insights into the social construction of taste are thought provoking. Why do we like what we like? How much of our preferences are due ... Read full review

Review: Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste

User Review  - Loubna Mckouar - Goodreads

When I first read this it gave me a trauma from how smart a man can be and how stupid I could get struggling with every sentence, graph, example trying to understand it within an everyday context. But ... Read full review

Contents

Parti
5
fractions of the dominant
18
The Economy of Practices
97
The Habitus and the Space of LifeStyles
169
Conditions of existence habitus and lifestyle
171
The food space
186
class 1972
188
Variations in entertaining by class fraction 1978
198
The Choice of the Necessary
372
Awareness of social factors in educational and social success by class fraction 1971
388
Views on ways of reducing inequality by class fraction 1970
389
Culture and Politics
397
Dont know responses to political questions by sex 1971
403
Dont know responses to questions on teaching by educational level 1970
404
Permissiveness and political preference
423
Opinions on foreign policy and political preference
427

Variations in value placed by Frenchwomen on body beauty and beauty care 1976
202
Class variations in sports activities and opinions on sport 1975
216
The Dynamics of the Fields
226
Ideal homes
248
Class Tastes and LifeStyles
258
the space of properties
262
simplified plane diagram of 1st and 3rd axes of inertia
266
I
271
Classfraction variations in moral attitudes
312
Cultural Goodwill
318
Opinions on literary prizes by class fraction 1969
320
Chances of entering the dominant class and fertility rates by class fraction 197071
332
the space of properties
340
simplified plane diagram of 1st and 3rd axes of inertia
343
II
361
Knowledge and preferences of established and new petite bourgeoisie in Paris and in the provinces
364
responses to question on the business world and politics by class fraction 1971
429
responses to question on the new socialism by sex class fraction and party 1971
430
Views on political order and moral order by class fraction 19591972
436
Newspaper reading by men by educational level 1975
445
Newspaper reading by men and women by class fraction 1975
446
Percentage of each class fraction reading each daily and weekly paper
448
Figures
449
Distribution of preferences for three musical works 17
450
The political space
452
Classes and Classifications
466
Towards a Vulgar Critique of Pure
485
Notes
561
Specific competence and talk about art 90
573
Credits
605
Copyright

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