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Essay on Class Status. Signals and Symbols. Part 4


Systems of class symbolism in stable modern societies usually evolve toward the elimination of any symbols that look too conventional and intentional, and towards symbols about which there is no common knowledge whether or not they are symbols in general.

The place of major labels and accessories from precious metals in the wardrobe is occupied by high-quality fabrics, as well as the tailor's skill, about which we cannot say at all as to whether it has a place. A person could simply be lucky enough to be born with an excellent figure. Everyone can also decide to be lucky and buy an essay online to save their time and pay attention to other elements of class status.

As we have already said, people cease to show off their position. They are satisfied with the very realization that they are on a certain hierarchical level.

Or let us take the choice of wine. Wine is generally a good class symbol because its choice indicates not only financial possibilities but also a taste, and taste is a socialization symbol that can be acquired only by years of practicing. In our evolution, the purchase of famous expensive wines will gradually be replaced by the art of buying good inexpensive wine. In order to learn how to find a good inexpensive wine, we must try a lot of wines, including the expensive ones, and the fact that in the end an inexpensive one was chosen indicates that there was no desire to impress. Therefore, by the way, fashion practically does not affect both the lowest and upper classes: in the case of fashion, it is recognized as such, and the desire to impress is difficult to deny.

Taste as a Class Symbol

In a way, the ability to avoid emitting symbols of class status for a long time is a symbol of class status in itself, and one of the best. Concerning any consumer choice, we may wonder why this thing was chosen, and not something else. The price is usually one of the possible explanations: a person bought an object, because there was not enough money for a more expensive alternative.

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However, this is not the only explanation, and it is inapplicable to certain objects because they are unique in their own way. The fact that such an object is chosen can be wholly and completely explained by taste. If it is also relatively cheap, the rich and the poor will be its consumers with equal chances. The art of an unmistakable choice of such objects characterizes one of the elite groups in modern societies – those whom Bourdieu called "the upper class with the predominance of the cultural aspect over the economic one."

These are people who, if necessary, will lead you to the only place in the city where you can taste authentic Sichuan cuisine made by illegal migrants which will turn out to be quite cheap by a lucky coincidence. Their first overseas trip will be to a country where there are no tourists. And if they then have to admit that they have not been to Paris, where their interlocutor must have been, then they will easily take revenge since no one has been to that god forgotten edge they have visited, but where for sure everything is cheap.

In Italy, they will go to Calabria or Ancona neglecting Florence, Venice and Rome flooded with tourists. They are very likely to be vegetarians since no one has figured out yet how to make simple plant food as expensive as high-quality meat, and prefer a young white wine to the aged red. Their clothes will be from young designers, or ethnic, or from local producers in that same god forgotten country where they have been.

In general, they cultivate love for unique objects, as if by magic each time they turn out to be such ones that they simply cannot find a more expensive alternative. Each time their choice will be better explained, for example, by a deep understanding of the unique culture of the country X where they happened to be, or ethical concerns about environmental consumption, rather than how much money they have. It is still the taste of the elite: in order to cultivate it, you need money for travel, restaurants and clothing. But it is much more demanding to the art of producing impressions (or avoiding the production of impressions) than to the financial resources.

Taste of the Need

All in all, class tastes in modern societies usually form an hierarchy on the unconditional bottom of which there is a "taste of the need": any consumer choice is because the product is the cheapest in its category. There is a taste for falsification above, in which the goods are selected not only taking into account the fact that it is cheap, but also in the hope that it looks like some more desirable but financially inaccessible alternative. It is a taste for bags made of fake crocodile skin, which, contrary to their will, is peculiar to many people trying to just dress like everyone else because it somehow prevails in Chinese clothing markets around the world.

The taste for real crocodile skin, as it is generally preserved in nature, will go further. And even higher, we will find two groups: those who never buy a leather bag at all – it is unethical! – and will walk with a canvas, purchased in a hitchhiking tour in Pakistan, and those who will walk with a discreet bag of simple leather about which it will be unclear why it looks so good and which will be astoundingly expensive.

The taste of the elite with a predominance of economic capital over the cultural one in some way mimics the taste of the opposing faction in denying the showy wealth. But among the low-key options it stops at the one that is the most high-quality – let it again, as if by magic, turn out to be the most expensive.

However, since the general knowledge of which signal is intentional and which is not is inherent to evolve, we can face the fact that at the next stage of the evolution of status symbolism, what seems elegant today will seem to be deliberate and caricature. Just as we see fake leopard fur and gold chains today.

We can only say that in any case, a taste for well-written cheap essays will always remain actual. Stay tuned and read new interesting articles on our blog.

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