Tags: art/music, capitalism, class, consumption/consumerism, prejudice/discrimination, theory, aristocracy of culture, pierre bourdieu, status hierarchy, taste, 11 to 20 mins
Summary: This is an animated rendering of Dr. Seuss's 1961 book, The Sneetches. In the story, Star-bellied sneetches enjoy elite status, so when plain-bellied sneetches get stars imprinted on their bellies, the status system is thrown into disarray. In response, the sneetch-elite pay a heavy price to reestablish their distinction by having their stars removed. I like to use this video as an illustration of Bourdieu's idea of taste as it pertains to status, which he outlines in his book Distinction. In a chapter he names "The Aristocracy of Culture," Bourdieu describes tastes as "manifested preferences." They are "the practical affirmation of an inevitable difference” (56). Groups put forth considerable effort to maintain and reinforce their differences, and as Bourdieu observes, groups work to naturalize their distinctive tastes. Although absent in Dr. Seuss's story, Bourdieu's social theory draws attention to the fact that groups are always interested in asserting the fiction that tastes—their mode of acquisition of culture—are in fact due to more fundamental differences in their natures.
Submitted By: Margaret Austin Smith
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