Sophistication (as the noun of the adjective cultivated ) describes, colloquially in a social context, a refined, cultivated way of life that is based on the values of a certain social group or class. The term indirectly implies an almost complete further development of certain desirable behaviors that go beyond the usual measure. As a rule (in contrast to the term “ civilized ”), these relate to external living conditions, for example the type of consumption of goods or a group of activities , e.g. B. the eating culture , manners , art and music tastes as well as a certain form of dressing that corresponds to the current, narrowly defined conception of culture .
The European concept of "sophistication"
A way of life called “cultivated” or “cultivated” is characterized in the sense of the upper European social classes by z. B.
- well-groomed appearance ( body care )
- a high level of general education
- upscale manners ( courtesy )
- less drastic or direct, more selected expressions ( feeling for language , conversation )
- sensitive reaction and a finer or more differentiated way of communicating ( tact , empathy )
- appropriate and aesthetically pleasing clothing ( clothing , outfit, dress code )
- an aesthetically pleasing living environment
These are just some of the things that make up a person's social behavior. The way of performing certain movements in everyday life ( grace ) or in a ritualized form ( dance ), aesthetics and artistry in speech ( rhetoric ) and writing, which affects both the content and the external form, even the way of thinking can be called “cultivated ”Or“ uncultivated ”. The term “uncivilized” is even more disparaging.
Exaggerated ritualized behavior that is perceived as strongly unnatural is also referred to as “ mannered ” or “artificial”. The courtly culture of the Rococo, an epoch of highly developed sophistication in this sense, can be taken as an example . A cultivated behavior that is perceived as positive, which does not appear artificial or unnatural and which is carried out with impressive effectiveness and apparent simplicity, is called elegance . Phenomena that are considered uncultivated are also referred to with attributes such as "coarse", "coarse", " vulgar " or colloquially " chubby ".
Examples of sophistication
The Japanese geishas see themselves as perfectly cultivated people . These rigorously trained companions are educated in all the relevant arts of Japan and trained to perfect them in order to perfectly entertain their guests or hosts. Geishas see themselves as "living works of art".
The - slightly outdated - term for European cultured people is the use of the terms lady / gentleman in contrast to the more profane perceived woman / man . The salutation "Ms ..." is retained for women, while "Mr ..." remains authoritative for men ( salutation ). As a foreign word, gentleman and lady are sometimes used colloquially for the same terms. Especially for the gentleman, the cultural-historical background of chivalry still resonates . In the meantime, these terms have lost their original meaning. While the real English ladies of nobility were more careful to use their title less often, less affluent women insisted inflationary on being called "ladies". In contrast to this, “a real lady!” Or “a real gentleman!” Used to be used colloquially in admiration.
In general, the adjective “cultivated” is only used for adults , as children and young people are still in the middle of the process of upbringing and maturation that they are supposed to adapt to the prevailing culture. The corresponding upbringing is time-consuming and often costly, as it involves an excellent school with a range of different languages and natural sciences , appropriate clothing , livelihood , expenses for hobbies (e.g. horse riding ), private lessons especially in musical subjects and ballroom dancing as well as educational Trips are provided. For this reason, the level of sophistication that is displayed is always a subliminal status symbol .
Ambivalence of the term sophistication
However, the adjective “cultivated” contains a clear blurring so that from an objective point of view it is unclear which lifestyle is to be regarded as more cultivated compared to another.
The confusion is caused by the fact that people are often only “cultivated” in certain areas of their behavior. While z. For example, with some members of the upper class, the eating and drinking habits, the way of dressing, and the general expression in conversation and in writing can be regarded as cultivated, the same people deliberately disregard the human dignity and the right to life of other people and peoples or ignored. Conversely, an emissary from an indigenous people who is loyal to his principles and morally steadfast can be regarded as more cultured than a European in the congruence between words and deeds, while clothing, food and other outward appearances differ considerably from one another. This is where Jean-Jacques Rousseau's concept of the “noble savage” comes into play, but it also represents an idealization.
There is therefore no factual and objective definition of the term “cultivated”.
Freedom and sophistication
With the increasing importance of individual freedom and equality in Western societies, the original importance of sophistication waned. In a liberal environment, clothing and lifestyle as well as the design of one's own life are mostly left to the adult individual. With the same movement, a certain sense of style and elegance disappeared . However, a minimum of this sophistication is still required in order to be recognized in social life. For this reason, school lessons in behavior, manners and behavior are given in some federal states.
The more or less voluntary decision in favor of cultivated behavior is often associated with a subjective loss of personal freedom, as this is primarily geared towards pleasing other people and belonging to a group with the same behavioral patterns. It does not set its own standards for desirable behavior, communication and quality of life, but takes over these ideas from other caregivers . Therefore it requires a certain amount of humility and self-surrender, in more rigorous schools discipline and obedience . An exaggerated attitude towards this is complete self-denial, which in the long term can lead to mental illness.
The conscious and voluntary decision for cultivated behavior, which is based on the values of other caregivers, is usually connected with the desire for personal development. In extreme cases this can go as far as complete transformation if it is operated and supported very intensively. Numerous myths , fairy tales and films draw on this development potential of a person, whereby in the brief, excerpted stories it is often overlooked how much real work, concentration , perseverance , diligence and dedication there is behind such a learning process, before an extraordinary and outstanding level of sophistication is reached in a certain area.
Other parts of speech
The verb "cultivate" also means: " to make, develop or elevate (something) into a culture or a cult ", "to celebrate (something) as a cult or a culture". Example: “ Dandies cultivate their fashionable appearance.” So dandies develop and celebrate a culture of the fashionable, they develop a state in which they cultivate, celebrate and uphold the fashionable.
Refinement in technology
In the technical field, the term sophistication has also gained in importance. For example, the internal combustion engine of an automobile is considered to be refined if it is characterized by smooth and smooth running.
Refinement as a subject in art
Thematically, films about sophistication are almost always based on the pattern in the fairy tale “The Ugly Young Duckling” by Hans Christian Andersen , in which an ugly duckling that everyone disdains and turns into a beautiful swan . The fairy tale motif of Cinderella is also related , although here a good fairy replaces the work of self-education. Much more often than with men, this topos is therefore applied to women, and the upbringing or training is only shown in a few excerpts, which considerably shortens the time between the uncultivated and the cultivated status for the beholder's eye. Most of the time, the metamorphosis is staged as an entertaining comedy , but sometimes the subject of vengeance also produces drama . This happens more often with the male variant of the cultural transformation.
- The Count of Monte Christo , Alexandre Dumas , 1844–1846
- The Geisha (novel) , Arthur Golden
- Minoes - The mysterious Minusch, 1970, Annie MG Schmidt
- The Little Lord , 1886, Frances Hodgson Burnett
- Sabrina , 1954
- Gigi , 1958
- Baroness , 1960
- The leopard , 1963
- My Fair Lady , 1964
- Rita finally wants to know (Educating Rita), 1983
- Two Adorably Depraved Villains , 1988
- Pretty Woman , 1990
- King Ralph , 1991
- Stone Age Junior , 1992
- And the marmot greets you every day , 1993
- Born Yesterday - You Don't Kiss Blondes (Born Yesterday) , 1993
- Mrs. Winterbourne , 1996
- One like none , 1999
- Miss Undercover , 2000, directed by Donald Petrie , with Sandra Bullock
- Suddenly Princess , 2001
- Billy Elliot - I Will Dance , 2001
- The mysterious Minusch (Minoes) , 2001
- Human Nature , 2001
- The Geisha , 2005
- The devil wears Prada , 2006
- Death of a real estate agent, Denmark. 2009, director: Anders Matthesen, with Søren Rislund (original title: Sorte kugler)
- Till det som är vackert , directed by Lisa Langseth, 2010
- Gräfliches Roulette , 2010, directed by Ulrich König , with Fritz Wepper and Leonard Lansink
- Die kleine Lady , directed by Gernot Roll, with Christiane Hörbiger and Veronica Ferres , 2012. Based on the novel Der kleine Lord by Frances Hodgson Burnett
- Franz Kaufmann: Are you cultured? orell Füssli Verlag, 2006, ISBN 3-280-05187-8 .