Writing Out Loud: Distinction

In Distinction, Bourdieu reveals how social class determines individual tastes in things like art, food, and music. As he notes in the introduction to the book, taste is more than an outcome of class – it also does its own sort of classifying. Although the prose is dense in spots, many of Bourdieu’s observations of French culture in the 1960s can be applied to our own. Answer the following questions after completing the reading.

Theme: Networks of Capital


  1. How does Bourdieu use the photograph of the old woman to describe how social class determines things like our appreciation of art?
  2. Bourdieu’s concept of habitus is–let’s face it–confusing. What do you think he is trying to say when he writes that habitu is “not only a structuring structure, which organizes practice and perceptions of practices, but also a structured structure”?
  3. One thing that is important to understand about habitus is that it is embodied, meaning our tastes and class is visible in how we talk, how we walk, and how we do most everything else. Describe how your own habitus is embodied and how it is derived from your own reserves of economic, cultural, and social capital.
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