Douglas Allen & Paul Anderson – Consumption and Social Stratification

Link to an article by Douglas E. Allen and Paul F. Anderson:

Douglas E. Allen and Paul F. Anderson, “Consumption and Social Stratification: Bourdieu’s Distinction”, Advances in Consumer Research Volume 21, 70-74 (C. Allen and D. Roedder John, eds.,  Association for Consumer Research, 1994).

Selected quote:

[Pierre] Bourdieu sees the consumption field as a site of struggle over the definitions of legitimate, middlebrow, and popular culture. In his view, the socially and economically dominant in any society seek to maintain a strict hierarchy of cultural forms so that all judgments in the consumption sphere are subject to the hegemony of ‘legitimate’ (i.e., dominant) cultural tastes. This is accomplished without conscious direction or coercion because a person’s class habitus presents each individual with a preexisting set of ‘natural’ classifications that constitute his or her unreflective definition of reality. Thus, in western industrialized societies, classical music, opera, legitimate theater, books on philosophy, knowledge of foreign languages, modern art collections, and subscriptions to academic journals are just a few of the cultural forms that are unquestionably (and unquestioned) elements of the legitimate or dominant culture. While members of the middle and working classes may eschew such cultural forms (indeed, they may well view them with suspicion or disdain), their position at the pinnacle of the cultural hierarchy goes unchallenged. As a result, those who can appropriate elements of legitimate culture as their own have the power to define the status of all other cultural forms.


“For Bourdieu, the singular mistake made by dominated class fractions, particularly the petite bourgeoisie, is to associate culture with knowledge. Lacking the lived experiences that produce the elite habitus, the petite bourgeoisie misrecognize what are essentially arbitrary aesthetic selections for special knowledge of what counts as ‘legitimate’ and ‘illegitimate’ in the cultural sphere.”

Pascal Blackfoot – Beyond the Class Ceiling

Link to an article by Pascal Blackfoot:

“Beyond the Class Ceiling: Education and Upward Social Mobility”


This excellent article explicitly references the work of Pierre Bourdieu.  However, the specific questions address under that theoretical framework resemble Jonathan Cobb and Richard Sennett‘s The Hidden Injuries of Class, and some further examples of the concepts discussed specific to the academic/educational context can be found in books like This Fine Place So Far from Home: Voices of Academics from the Working Class and Strangers in Paradise: Academics from the Working Class

Paul Kesler – Bourdieu vs. Delong

Link to a review of James Delong’s review of Pierre Bourdieu‘s Acts of Resistance: Against the Tyranny of the Market (1998) by Paul Kesler:

“Bourdieu vs. Delong”

A useful case study description of how neoliberals tends to de-politicize (normalize) their political position.

Bonus link: “Kesler vs. Delong vs. Bourdieu”

Gerry Veenstra – Class Position and Musical Tastes

Link to an article by Gerry Veenstra:

“Class Position and Musical Tastes: A Sing-off Between the Cultural Omnivorism and Bourdieusian Homology Frameworks” (and associated press release)

Bonus link: “Bourdieu’s Disavowal of Lacan: Psychoanalytic Theory and the Concepts of ‘Habitus’ and ‘Symbolic Capital'”

Pierre Bourdieu – The Left Hand and the Right Hand of the State

Link to an interview with Pierre Bourdieu:

“The Left Hand and the Right Hand of the State”


Bonus quote:

“Today, financial crisis is a permanent state of things the reference to which legitimizes the demands to cut social spending, health care, sup-port of culture and scientific research, in short, the dismantling of the welfare state. Is, however, this permanent crisis really an objective feature of our socio-economic life? Is it not rather one of the effects of the shift of balance in the ‘class struggle’ towards Capital . . . ?  In other words, the crisis is an ‘objective fact’ if and only if one accepts in advance as an unquestionable premise the inherent logic of Capital . . . .”

Slavoj Žižek, “Multiculturalism, or, the Cultural Logic of Multinational Capitalism”