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Distinction A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste Part III Pierre Bourdieu 1930-2002 Translated by Richard Nice.

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Presentation on theme: "Distinction A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste Part III Pierre Bourdieu 1930-2002 Translated by Richard Nice."— Presentation transcript:

1 Distinction A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste Part III Pierre Bourdieu 1930-2002 Translated by Richard Nice

2 Basic Over View Distinction was written by Bourdieu to explore the tastes of French society. Based on a survey carried out in 1963 and 1967-8 A total of 1,2717 subjects

3 Over View Continued… The subjects were asked to specify their personal tastes and preferences on music, art, literature, past times etc. The subjects were asked to give their knowledge about these arts Bourdieu aims to evident how judgements of taste are related to social position

4 Over View Continued… The book is made up of 3 parts. Part 1, A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste, (has one subsection/chapter) Part 2, The Economy of Practices, (made up of 3 subsections/chapters) Part 3, Class Tastes and Life-Styles (made up of 4 subsections/chapters) This is then followed by a Conclusion.

5 Each subsection/chapter is named. The book contains diagrams, graphs, figures, tables, pictures and interviews that present his findings I will be discussing Part 3 and its subsections/chapters.

6 Part 3, Class Tastes and Life-Styles Opens with a quote, ‘Our pride is more offended by attacks on our tastes than on our opinions’, La Rochefoucauld, Maxims Chapter 5, The Sense of Distinction Bourdieu, in one study, endeavours to establish: Firstly, that the dominant class is defined by the distribution of economic and cultural capital among its members which corresponds to a certain life-style Secondly, that the distribution of this cultural capital is symmetrically and inversely structured, and, Thirdly, that different inherited asset structures, along with social trajectory, command the systematic choices it produces in all areas of practice where the choices are presented in life-styles.

7 This would be established by the data collected from the survey being subjected to correspondence analysis. He produced a diagram to show the variants in dominant taste. At the two opposite extremes on the spectrum, according to taste are the commercial employers and higher education teachers. Members of the professions e.g. executives and engineers occupy intermediate positions. The analysis of middle brow culture, and the indication of preference show that secondary teachers mostly oppose the preferences of commercial employers. The comparisons continue and are vast. He would even compare taste in films, singers and the décor of your home. Here is an example of the type of diagram he produced.


9 Bourdieu comments on ‘The Mark of Time’ being a factor that separates the dominant class from other classes. Here he notices that in no other class other than the dominant class, does opposition between generations stand out. There is opposition between senior members of the class and new comers, the young and old and the challengers and possessors. He claims that, often the senior members are the most precocious, and enhance the generational conflicts and competition. This he adds, helps with the continuation of the apparent dominant class.

10 Chapter 6, Cultural Goodwill “The members of the different social classes differ not so much in the extent to which they acknowledge culture as in the extent to which they know it.” Bourdieu suggests that there is an important link between the petite bourgeoisie and culture. Here, there is a gap in knowledge and recognition of the source of cultural goodwill. He states there are different forms of cultural goodwill depending to the familiarity one has to a legitimate culture, that being the social origin and the cultural acquisition of something.

11 In another study, Bourdieu focuses on the different classes and their fertility rates. He believes that fertility strategies are directly related to only those people who are able to achieve their initial capital accumulation of economic and cultural capital by restricting their consumption, so to concentrate all of their resources on a small number of descendents, whose role it is to continue the group’s upward trajectory. He believes there is a relativity between income and the up-bringing of children. Fertility among low-income groups is high, while middle-income groups is the lowest, and reaches another high in high-income groups. This is displayed using a table, that details ‘The chances of entering the dominant class, and fertility rates, by class fraction,' and the results exemplify his understandings, farm workers experiencing the highest fertility, and least likely chance of entering the dominant class, while the professionals have the next highest fertility rate with the greatest chance of entering the dominant class (based on men being able to enter the dominant class by father’s occupation.)

12 Chapter 7, The Choice of the Necessary “The fundamental proposition that the habitus is a virtue made of necessity is never more clearly illustrated than in the case of the working classes, since necessity includes for them all that is usually meant by the word, that is, an inescapable deprivation of necessary goods.”

13 Here he identifies that social class is not defined solely by a position in relation to production but by the class habitus which is ‘normally’ associated with that position. Therefore, the working class condition can only be understood by entering into the working-class to experience, and see how the they view their own position. To exemplify this, Bourdieu uses pictures of a typical working class house holed.

14 This is the type of picture Bourdieu uses to show a working class home life.

15 Chapter 8, Culture and Politics “Perhaps the most radical approach to the problem of politics is to ask of it the question that Marx and Engels raise in relation to art. Having analysed the concentration of the capacity for artistic production in the hands of a few individuals and the correlative (or even consequent ) dispossession of the masses, they imagine a (communist) society in which ‘there are no painters but at most people who engage in painting among other thing’ and in which, thanks to the development of the productive forces, the general reduction of working time ( through an overall decrease and an equal distribution) allows ‘everyone sufficient free time to take part in the general affairs of society – theoretical as well as practical.’”

16 Bourdieu notices how there is a link between the political competence of the voter and their educational qualification, which is also presented on a table. The table shows the level of qualification against how well that person valued teaching as a profession. The higher the teacher was valued correlated to a higher level of education. This also links to the difference between the turn out of male and female voters. He sees that far more men than women vote, however the gap widens the further down the social hierarchy you look. Furthermore, the refusal of sex as a status, in political or other matters, tends to increase with educational level.

17 What is distinctive about Distinction? One commentator suggests: “Distinction is a work which addresses itself simultaneously to many concerns, and is a stimulating contribution to any one of these academic areas. It is a contribution to the study of taste and aesthetics, repudiating the idea of a universal transcendent conception of the aesthetic. It advances Marxist sociology. It is a reformulation of the conception of capital, looking at economic, cultural, educational and social capital within a unified framework. Through this, a better understanding of class and status group, the Marxist and Weberian categories of social analysis is achieved. Furthermore, it also advances Bourdieu's general theory of society and social agents.”

18 Comments The chapters are very long with a confusing sentence structures. He included so many studies, so many that if I were to include every one I would be here for hours! At some points it became confusing as to which study he was explaining next. However, his detail is extremely thorough and interesting, and comments upon almost every factor that could enhance our life choices and decisions. His diagrams and figures are fascinating, yet at times hard to comprehend.

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