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Social Class and Cultural Consumption: The Impact of Modernisation in a Comparative European Perspective

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image of Comparative Sociology
For content published from 1960-2001, see International Journal of Comparative Sociology.

Abstract Pierre Bourdieu’s work has argued that there is a homology of social classes on the one hand and cultural consumption on the other. In contrast, theories of individualisation posit that social class plays only a minor role in shaping lifestyle in contemporary societies. In this paper we examine a) how much contemporary highbrow lifestyles in 27 European countries are structured by class membership, b) the extent to which highbrow consumption varies according to the level of modernisation of a society and c) whether the explanatory power of social class in relation to highbrow consumption decreases in more modernised European countries. The findings show that highbrow lifestyles are strongly influenced by social class, and that highbrow consumption is more common in more modernised societies. Moreover, the findings confirm the hypothesis that the formative power of social class on lifestyle decreases in highly modernised societies, albeit without disappearing completely.


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