Room of Lifestyles

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The space of lifestyles is a term used by the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu . It is first used in his 1979 work The Subtle Differences , which was based on a large-scale empirical study in France in the 1960s. Accordingly, the social actors in the realm of lifestyles are fighting over symbolic capital . According to Bourdieu, material disputes in the space of social positions go hand in hand with symbolic disputes in the space of lifestyles. The two relatively independent subspaces ( fields ), the space of lifestyles and the space of social positions - conveyed through the habitus - form the social space .


The habitus does two things: On the one hand, it produces classifiable forms of practice and, on the other hand, it enables the differentiation and evaluation of forms of practice and products.

First of all, the external economic, social and cultural prerequisites of the individual open and limit their scope for action. Each class develops typical lifestyles , which, however, partially overlap and cannot be clearly separated from one another.

One of the most important foundations of habit-controlled actions is taste . Bourdieu understands the concept of taste as an excellent characteristic of class , because people of similar origins usually develop similar preferences and at the same time form networks that stabilize the prevailing conditions.

He lifts the traditional separation between higher-quality culture ( see. To also civilization ) and inferior (naked) consumption on, for example, often practiced in Germany distinction between E and U-Music , and studied for a musical and artistic tastes of different social strata or Classes, but also daily life , such as the choice of food and its preparation, the decision for a certain style of clothing or the home furnishings, etc., and assigns these aspects of the way of life to a differentiated class habitus. He takes historical developments and other dynamic factors into account.

The taste allows conclusions to be drawn about the individual, his origin and his current position within society. It is a means of differentiation and thus a distinctive sign of value in a symbolic order. Every practice is distinctive, regardless of whether it is carried out consciously or not ( illusio ).

Above all, the differentiation of taste in relation to the visual arts is important for the production of class on a symbolic level. So it does z. B. a difference whether someone prefers so-called kitsch , van Gogh or modern art . In addition, everyday goods and behaviors such as For example, the preference for fast food and other excessive meals on the part of the members of the lower classes over expensive, healthy and rare foods on the side of the “rulers” also has a classifying effect.

First and foremost, those who have the necessary cultural and economic prerequisites in the form of cultural and economic capital and who have acquired skills in the creative and innovative use of “legitimate” cultural goods and lifestyles based on their origins successfully take part in the symbolic confrontations . The “ruling class” thus sets the standards. It defines the recognized culture, determines what a luxury good is and what legitimate modes of appropriation look like. Goods and styles that have a rarity value and thus fulfill their function of delimiting possessions and behavior of the broad masses are suitable for differentiating between classes. The experience of being generously endowed with economic and cultural capital shapes the habitus of the ruling class. Their habitus is the "pure", safe taste, the playful handling of rules in everyday life as well as in aesthetics , the pleasure in what is not necessary, wanting to be different, the skillful handling of things and people, the will, one's own to enforce differentiated standards and forms of practice.

According to Bourdieu, the lifestyles of the ruled classes are rather passive and contrast with those of the upper classes. Due to their tense economic situation, their habitus is shaped by everyday demands. Their existential need often leads to a utility-oriented pursuit of material goods. A useful materialism and a taste for the practical are characteristic.

The petty bourgeoisie , divided by Bourdieu into several groups and described in a differentiated manner, on the other hand, strives for advancement and is guided by the taste and lifestyle of the upper class. In this way, according to Bourdieu, it robs the current symbolic goods of their exclusivity and thus their value and forces the culturally hegemonic layers to look for new legitimate cultural goods. The middle classes try to meet the conventions set by the upper classes . They adopt their culture and try to advance socially by acquiring education. Overfitting, the uncritical following of rules and the fearful avoidance of errors are often characteristic.

In addition to the symbolic clashes between the classes, Bourdieu describes the rivalry within the upper class between the economic and cultural elite. According to Bourdieu, the symbolic conflicts between and within the classes or strata are the forgotten dimension of the class struggle.