The Theory Of The Mass And The Elite Essay

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Conversely, the theory of the mass and the elite provides an alternative explanation for the stratification of consumption. This theory of social stratification is the simple proposition that the elite consume a highly select amount of culture whilst the masses consume popular and less sophisticated culture. Cultural capital is a key factor in this theory and is what Bourdieu (1984) believed we used to enter into elite social life (Bryson, 1996). The more cultural capital you had the better equipped you were to understand the meaning behind art, and therefore have a more select cultural taste. Furthermore, Bourdieu’s complex concept of ‘habitus’ also factors in here, as he believes that this distinction between the elite and the mass is mediated through different classes ‘habitus’ (Chan & Goldthorpe, 2007). This is the classes way of life, their outlooks, and views on different aspects of culture. Thus, a child born in an upper-class family is brought up around high culture and can therefore appreciate it, whereas a child from a working-class family may not have had access to high culture and won’t have cultural capital to understand it. Therefore, presenting a difference between the kinds of culture people from different social classes may consume, and possibly how their tastes may differ.
In the context of music, Bourdieu’s elite/mass theory can be seen in the consumption of classical and opera styles of music by the upper-classes whereas the middle and working classes…

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