9th Conference European Sociological Association

RS13 Re-Assessing Class in Contemporary Sociology

2009-09-04 13:30:00 2009-09-04 15:00:00 Friday, 4 September 13:30 - 15:00 Class, Class Cultures and Gender Building I, 1E11

Cultural and Moral Class Distinctions in a Nordic Context: Findings from a city in Denmark

One of the major contributions of Pierre Boudieu in Dinstinction (1984 [1979]) was to illuminate the function of cultural consumption as a marker of status in 1970's France. Since then, there has been an ongoing debate as to whether these findings apply to other national contexts, and not least, whether other forms of symbolic boundary-drawing may be more relevant. The aim of this paper is to investigate whether cultural consumption and moral/political stances serve as markers of class positions, and to elaborate on the specific ways that people in different social positions draw symbolic boundaries between "us" and "them". Based on a survey conducted in the municipality of Aalborg in Denmark in 2004 (N= 1174), and by the use of multiple correspondence analysis, a space of social positions is constructed. The distribution of cultural practices and moral/political stances among different class positions within that space is examined. By introducing a range of qualitative semi-structured interviews with respondents from the survey, the specific modes and the relative weight of the two forms of boundary-drawing are evaluated. It is argued that both cultural practices and moral/political stances serve as markers of social position. However, while examples of symbolic boundary-drawing based on cultural distinctions do exist, it is more pronounced, even within the fractions richest in cultural capital, to draw boundaries towards other social groups on the basis of moral/political criteria. Attitudes towards immigrants seem to play a particularly important role. Finally, boundaries are not only drawn by the privileged towards the less privileged positions. Antipathies towards the cultural elite are expressed through aversions against the state subsidization of high brow culture.