9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN05 Sociology of Consumption

2009-09-03 15:30:00 2009-09-03 17:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 15:30 - 17:00 Cultural Consumption Building II, C5.01

Life Style Differentiation in the Netherlands

Tastes in music, art, clothing, food, drinks and appearance are often thought to be highly individual. On the contrary, according to the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, life styles largely evolve from the position in social structure and can be described by the same two-dimensional ?social space? defined by an economic and a cultural hierarchy.
Although the homology thesis has inspired many scholars, it has also been the subject of much criticism. The proposed life style differentiation would only exist in France and be tenable only for the 1960?s. Post-modernist views claim that lifestyles do not longer result from social structure, but are purely personal and are themselves the new entities of social structure. The omnivore thesis states that combinations of high and low brow are markers of high social status.
In this paper we examine whether life styles in the Netherlands can be described along the economic and cultural dimension of social structure, as hypothesized by Bourdieu. Apart from studying life style differences according to these dimensions as defined by traditional indicators of social status, we also consider the life style orientation of the family of origin. The data are collected in 2000 and refer to a sample of 620 Dutch, aged between 20 and 40, who have been interviewed on a very broad range of detailed life style characteristics, like highbrow and lowbrow cultural participation, reading behavior, preferences in music, food, drinks, vacations, table manners, health and physical appearance, possession of luxury and cultural goods.

Peterson R.A and Kern R.M., 1996. ?Changing Highbrow Taste : From Snob to Omnivore?, American Sociological Review, 61, 900-907
Coulangeon, Ph. and Lemel, Y. (2009).The Homology Thesis: Distinction Revisited. In: Robson, K. and Sanders, C. (Eds.) Quantifying Theory: Pierre Bourdieu. Springer Science + Business Media B.V.