Distinction : a social critique of the judgment of taste / Pierre Bourdieu ; translated by Richard Nice.

by Bourdieu, Pierre, 1930-2002Looking glass.

Publisher: Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1984.Description: xiv, 613 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm.ISBN: 0674212770; 9780674212770.Subject(s): Aesthetics, FrenchLooking glass | Social classes -- FranceLooking glass | France -- Civilization -- 1945-Looking glassNote: Translation of: La distinction : critique sociale du jugement.Note: Includes bibliographical references and index.
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

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.

Translation of: La distinction : critique sociale du jugement.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

Table of contents provided by Syndetics

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

Author notes provided by Syndetics

Pierre Bourdieu is Professor of Sociology at the College de France, Paris

Other editions of this work

No cover image available Distinction : by Bourdieu, Pierre, ©1984
No cover image available Distinction : by Bourdieu, Pierre, ©2010
No cover image available Distinction : by Bourdieu, Pierre, ©1984