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Thursday, November 6, 2008

La Distinction

La Distinction, a sociological book by French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu (1930–2002), takes as its basis Bourdieu's empirical research carried out in 1963 and concluded in 1967/68. The original publication took place in 1979 in France. Richard Nice translated the work into English, and it appeared in the United States in 1984 under the title Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. In 1998 the International Sociological Association voted it one of the ten most important sociological books of the 20th century.
In his often densely-worded prose, Bourdieu discussed how those in power define aesthetic concepts such as "taste". Using research, he shows how social class tends to determine a person's likes and interests, and how distinctions based on social class get reinforced in daily life. He observes that even when the subordinate classes may seem to have their own particular idea of 'good taste', "...[i]t must never be forgotten that the working-class 'aesthetic' is a dominated 'aesthetic' which is constantly obliged to define itself in terms of the dominant aesthetics..." (page 41)

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