Pierre Bourdieu The Habitus and the Space of Life Styles

Two basic principles of organization of social space. Main oppositions in the realm of food. Place of the income in determining distance. The art of eating, drinking. The body as a social product, which is the only tangible manifestation of the "person".

Рубрика Социология и обществознание
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Язык английский
Дата добавления 27.05.2013
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Pierre Bourdieu The Habitus and the Space of Life Styles

social space eating art

Generative schemes of the habitus are applied by simple transfer to the most dissimilar areas of practice. Practices or goods associated with the different classes in the different areas of practice are organized in accordance with structures of opposition which are homologous to one another because they are all homologous to the structure of objective oppositions between class conditions.

Bourdieu has chosen two basic principles of organization of social space that define structure and modification of the space of cultural consumption and all life-styles. In cultural consumption the main opposition by overall capital value is between the practices designed by their rarity and commonness. They are typical for groups possessing biggest economical and cultural capitals and poorest ones respectively. In the intermediate position are the practices which are perceived as pretentious, because of the manifest discrepancy between ambition and possibilities.

In opposition to the dominated condition characterized by domination of forced poverty and unjustified laxity, the dominant aesthetic proposes the combination of ease and asceticism, for example, self imposed austerity, restraint, reserve, which are affirmed in that absolute manifestation of excellence, relaxation in tension.

This fundamental opposition is specified according to capital composition. Through the mediation of the means of appropriation available to them, exclusively or principally cultural on the one hand, mainly economic on the other, and the different forms of relation to works of art which result from tem, the different fractions of the dominant class are oriented towards cultural practices, so different in their style and object and sometimes antagonistic that it is easy to forget that they are variants of the same fundamental relationship to necessity and to those who remain subject to it.

There are two oppositions in the realm of food. The main opposition broadly corresponds to differences in income. The second one is the opposition of groups who have biggest cultural and smallest economic capital and who have opposite structure of actives. As one rises in the social hierarchy, the proportion of income spent on food diminishes or the percent of healthy food consumption is rising.

Income plays an important part in determining distance from the necessity. However it can't account for cases in which the same income is associated with totally different consumption patterns. Thus, all characteristics of social condition must be taken in account. They are statistically associated from earliest childhood with possession of high or low income and which tend to shape tastes adjusted to these conditions.

Another basis of the differences is the opposition between the rated of luxury or freedom and the taste of necessity. The first one is the characteristic of those possessing big capital, who keep the distance from necessity, the second one is the characteristic of those who are product of necessities.

The idea of taste is typically bourgeois. It presupposes absolute freedom of choice and being so closely associated with the idea of freedom rejects the existence of taste to necessity. In this case practice is a consequence of economical necessity. Taste is a forced choice, produced by conditions of existence which rule out all alternatives as mere daydreams and leave no choice but the taste for necessary. The taste of necessity can only be the basis of a life-style “in-itself”. It is a privation between itself and the other life-styles. The division of labor bands the manufacturing worker as the property of capital. Their lifestyle betrays them even in their use of spare time as well. Not having high knowledge and manners but abilities which can't be used during polite conversations and academic examinations define them as people who don't know how to live, who sacrifice most to material foods, and to the heaviest, grossest and most fattening of them, bread, potatoes, fats, and the most vulgar, such as wine; who spend least on closing and cosmetics, appearance and beauty; those who don't know how to relax, who always have to be doing something, who set off in their old cars to join the great traffic jams of the holiday exodus, who picnic besides major roads, fling themselves into the prefabricated leisure activities designed from them by the engineers of cultural mass production. All these uninspired choices confirm class racism basically saying “they only get what they deserve”.

The art of eating and drinking is another thing making a gap between classes. Highest level of social hierarchy affirms the philosophy of sake and slimness. They are opposed by bon vivants, or those who enjoys eating and drinking. Peasants and especially industrial workers maintain the ethic of convivial indulgence. These people are capable of entering into the generous and familiar, that is both simple and free, relationship symbolized by eating and drinking together with no restraints and reticence.

The boundary marking the break between the popular relation to food runs between manual workers and clerical and commercial employees, who spend less on food, consume more healthy products; spend more on beauty care and clothing as well as on cultural and leisure activities. The modest taste which can defer its gratifications is opposed on the spontaneous materialism of working classes.

Bourgeois' rejection of up-to-the-minute relax in favor of future pleasures is opposed to the basic opposition between the tastes of luxury and the tastes of necessity is specified in as much oppositions as there are different ways of asserting one's distinction face to face the working class and its primary needs, or different powers whereby necessity can be kept at a distance. Within the dominant class three structures of the consumption can be distinguished: food, culture and presentation. These structures take opposite forms, like the structures of their capital, as against the industrial and commercial employees. Whereas the latter have exceptionally high expenditure on food, low cultural costs and medium spending on representation, the former have low expenditure on food, representation and high expenditure on culture. Opposed to both these groups are the members of the professions, who devote the same proportion of their budget to food as the teachers, but out of much greater total expenditure, and who spend much more on representation than all other fractions, whereas their cultural expenditure is lower than that of teachers.

Taste influences the form of the body and can be understood as a characteristic of a person belonging to a certain class. For example workers consider as most important physical strength and thus give favor to cheap and fat food. At the same time representatives of liberal professions prefer tasty, healthy and slight food. Such references refer to the difference in height, weight and size of the body between people from different classes.

The body is a social product which is the only tangible manifestation of the “person”. It is commonly perceived as the most natural expression of innermost nature. There are no merely physical facial signs; the color and thickness of lipstick or expression as well as the shape of the face or the mouth, are immediately read as indices of a “moral” physiognomy, socially characterized, for example, a “vulgar' or “distinguished” mind, naturally “natural” or naturally “cultivated”. The signs constituting the perceived body, cultural products which differentiate groups by their degree of culture, that is, their distance from nature, seem grounded in nature. The legitimate use of the body is spontaneously perceived as the index of moral uprightness, so that its opposite, a “natural” body, is seen as an index of libertinism, neglect of the duty. Thus a universe of class bodies tends to reproduce in its specific logic the universe of the social structure.

Tastes in food can't be considered in complete independence of the other dimensions of the relationship to the world, to others and to one's own body, through which the practical philosophy of each class is enacted. Bourgeois' attitude towards food differs from that of people from working class by ways of treating food, serving, presenting and offering it and of course the nature of products involved.

Woman and man have different status.

Manners of serving food are also different. Lower classes are characterized by liberties concerning the food and speech. Served food is diverse and large in quantity. It is especially true for holidays. It is always served simultaneously without any sequence to economize energy.

Simple people don't accept sham, imitation, window-dressing. They enjoy honest square meal and aren't paying for the wallpaper as in fancy restaurants. They are characterized by sincerity, by having a feeling for what is felt and proved in actions; free speech and language of the heart which make the true “nice guy”.

Way of dressing is another factor that shows difference between classes. One of the examples Bourdieu provides n his book is bathrobe which is a necessary attribute in aristocratic lifestyle and almost not used by simple people.

You can also easily guess about the belonging of a lady to a certain social class just basing on her appearance. Large wardrobe is another distinctive thing describing bourgeois.

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