Status, Lifestyle, and Taste

Mike Savage

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Consumption

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199561216
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

Status, Lifestyle, and Taste

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The concepts of status, lifestyle, and taste have played a powerful role in the sociological lexicon for well over a century. Their deployment from the later nineteenth century, especially in the thinking of Georg Simmel and Max Weber, was itself a marker of a new modern sensibility that defined the intellectual territory of nascent sociology. The idea that taste and lifestyles were both a fragment of modernity, and a means of recovering lost solidarities, proved both appealing and enduring to the project of sociology as a whole. This article examines the argument of Pierre Bourdieu, the single most influential figure whose work now commands the central stage in debates related to status, taste, and lifestyle. It also considers how arguments about the remaking of status, taste, and lifestyle are related to dramatic social change during the twentieth century associated with the rise of the white-collar middle classes, the cultural industries, and Americanization. Finally, the article discusses the recent fortunes of what might be termed cultural elitism, Weber's concept of styles of life, and Bourdieu's notion of cultural reproduction.

Keywords: status; lifestyle; taste; Max Weber; sociology; social change; Pierre Bourdieu; middle classes; cultural reproduction; styles of life

Article.  8565 words. 

Subjects: History ; Social and Cultural History

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