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Book Sections Year : 2014

Cultural Distinction and Material Consumption : the Case of Cars in Contemporary France

Abstract

Chapter 9This chapter explores class distinction in the consumption and ownership of material goods, relying on French data on car ownership. It challenges a restrictive and misleading reаding of Distinction, according to which the social phenomena described by Bourdieu would only apply to symbolic goods and cultural practices. It also questions the Frankfurt School-inspired understanding of the field of material goods as an emblematic manifestation of a unified and seemingly classless culture. The chapter shows that, car ownership, despite its wide diffusion since the post-war era, remains a significant social status marker in contemporary France. It also demonstrates that class distinctions emerge mainly around vehicles’ physical characteristics (weight and power) and age. But this quantitative class-gradient is not exclusive of more qualitative differences that differentiate vehicles according to their energy efficiency, dangerousness as well as environmental impact, and to a lesser extent brand. And most of these differences not only reflect the volume of capital of car owners but its structure as well.

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Sociology
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Dates and versions

hal-03398003 , version 1 (22-10-2021)

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Philippe Coulangeon, Yoann Demoli, Ivaylo Petev. Cultural Distinction and Material Consumption : the Case of Cars in Contemporary France. The Routledge Companion to Bourdieu's Distinction, Routledge, pp.119 - 131, 2014, 9780415727273. ⟨hal-03398003⟩
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