Introduction; The Aristocracy of Culture
Pierre Bourdieu

I particularly liked reading this short article over and over because it presented a somewhat elitist point of view on taste, which probably was the whole point of naming the article, “The Aristocracy of Culture.” It became interesting because the author really emphasized on how taste is acquired by means of education and social origin. Bourdieu even said that “the ideology of charisma regards taste in legitimate culture as a gift of nature, and scientific observation shows that cultural needs are the product of upbringing and education.”

In the article, Bourdieu even coined the term “cultural nobility”, which refers to the struggle between different social groups regarding their ideas of culture and their legitimate relation to culture. In line with this is the dominant cultural idea that is closely linked to social class.

With this, I wish to emphasize that I agree with Bourdieu at some point. The line from the reading, which says, “The eye is a product of history reproduced by education” simply tells us that cultural taste can also be developed through time and it can be taught. To support this claim, I found HBO very useful for airing one of my favorite movies this morning, entitled, “The Freedom Writers”. It showed how an environment such as Woodrow Wilson Classical High School’s Class 203, during the development of integration programs in the United States, was taught to read books such as “The Diary of Anne Frank” and was made aware about the holocaust.

Here is the trailer of the movie

Ms. Gruwell (Hilary Swank) knew about the turmoil happening to her students during that time, which pushed her to do something not in accordance to the school’s policy to get her students’ attention. She wanted this because she believed that they could develop their skills if their hearts were in it. However, she also believed that she had to impose it on them at some point. This holds true for taste; wanting it goes hand in hand with being exposed to it.

In addition, the line “Taste classifies and it classifies the classifier” tells us that acquiring a certain kind of taste categorizes us into different classes, and vice versa. An example for this would be the mall culture. Powerplant is seen as different from Ali Mall because of the difference in the crowd. Powerplant was made for the rich and upper middle class, while Ali mall was initially for the lower middle class. But it does not necessarily follow that people who shop at Powerplant are rich and people who shop at Ali Mall are not that well-off. Sometimes though, it is inevitable to assume this because of the location itself.

It is true that “the old rich have excellent taste”. However, we can say that like philosophical thought, taste can also be learned through experience and exposure. It is not something that we learn overnight. Rather, cultural taste takes time to be embedded into our system and all of us are capable of acquiring such.

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