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					                                                                                            Paul Dimaggio

             SOCIAL STRATIFICATION, LIFE-STYLE, AND SOCIAL COGNITION*

Measures of class and related variables, as well as such other axes of stratification as gender and race,
have long been the crack troops in sociologists' war on unexplained variance. Hardly an aspect of human
experience—the clothes one wears, the number of siblings one has, the diseases one is likely to contract,
the music to which one listens, the chances that one will serve in the armed forces or fall prey to violent
crime—is uncorrelated with some dimension of social rank.
       This section focuses on two especially interesting and well-developed literatures: one on the
relationship among stratification, life-style, and consumption patterns and one addressing the interactions
among class, personality, and attitudes. Such work considers the consequences of stratification for the
cultural styles and personalities of individuals and groups. But it goes beyond this, as well, to explore the
effects of cultural style and personality on people's life chances. And scholars in each tradition have
explored the role of history and social structure in shaping the relationships observed in studies in which
individuals are the units of analysis.

Culture, Life-Style, and Consumption

The starting point for any discussion of life-styles and consumption patterns must be the work of
Thorstein Veblen and Pierre Bourdieu. Although both authors believe that social stratification has
profound effects on life-style, beyond this their approaches vary. First, they call attention to different
aspects of stratification. Veblen uses the term "class" rhetorically, but his emphasis is on a continuous
prestige hierarchy, "rated and graded" by similarity to a "leisure-class" cultural ideal. Bourdieu, by
contrast, posits discrete "class fractions" sharing similar positions with respect to education, income, and
occupation, each united by a habitus or worldview derived from similar life experiences and common
images of the way of life appropriate for people "like us." Moreover, the social functions of taste are less
complicated for Veblen than for Bourdieu. Veblen portrays pecuniary emulation and conspicuous
consumption as strategies that individuals employ against their peers in struggling for status. By contrast,
like Max Weber (on status groups, 1968; Collins 1979) and Mary Douglas (Douglas and Isherwood
1979), Bourdieu views tastes as signs of group affiliation—of horizontal connections as well as vertical
distinctions (DiMaggio 1990).
       Bourdieu's work has inspired a body of empirical research on the origins and effects of "cultural
capital," usually operationalized by measures of survey respondents' knowledge of, interest in, or
experience with the arts. Studies in Australia, Greece, Hungary, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United
States have all documented robust effects of parental education (and, to a lesser extent, occupation) on
children's cultural capital (DiMaggio and Mohr 1985; DeGraff 1986; Ganzeboom 1982, 1986; Katsillas
and Rubinson 1990; Lamb 1989; Mohr and DiMaggio 1990; Roe 1983).
       Similarly, researchers agree that adults' tastes (and related behaviors) are associated with
educational attainment and, to a lesser extent, occupation (DiMaggio and Ostrower 1990; Hughes and
Peterson 1983; Laumann and House 1970; Marsden and Reed 1983; Robinson 1985). Significant effects
of students' cultural capital on such outcomes as school grades (DiMaggio 19823; Roe 1983), educational
aspirations (Lamb 1989) and attainment (DiMaggio and Mohr 1985; Ganzeboom 1986), and marital
selection (DiMaggio and Mohr 1985) have been demonstrated by most but not all (e.g., DeGraff 1986;
Katsillas and Rubinson 1990) studies of these topics.
       The results are more consistent with Bourdieu's approach than with Veblen's formulation of the
problem. Research on the predictors of cultural capital finds that schooling, which Bourdieu views as the
key institution controlling access to cultural capital, is a far better predictor of taste than income, which
Veblen regarded as central. Similarly, using direct measures of home cultural climate, Mohr and
DiMaggio (1990) demonstrate that these affect strongly the cultural capital of adolescents, mediating
most of the effects of parental education and occupation. At the same time, other results are consistent
with both Veblen and Bourdieu's orientations. For example, research supports status-competitive over
cognitive explanations of class differences: Tastes cluster more by the prestige of goods (e.g., liking fine
art and classical music) than by their formal similarities (e.g., liking all kinds of music) (DiMaggio
19823; Ganzeboom 1982). Attitudes toward high culture and arts attendance predict achievement better
than what students actually know about the arts (DiMaggio 19823), and early socialization in the arts has
been found to be more strongly related to educational attainment than to subsequent arts attendance

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(Ganzeboom 1986).
       Not all the evidence is consistent with Bourdieu's argument, however. Indeed, although taste is
differentiated by social status, there is no sign of discrete taste classes with sharply segmented
preferences. Educational attainment is strongly related to participation in prestigious art forms, but it is
positively associated with consumption of most kinds of popular culture as well (DiMaggio and Ostrower
1990; Cans 1986; Ganzeboom 1986; Hughes and Peterson 1983; Robinson 1985; Wilensky 1964).
Moreover, although all researchers report positive associations between measures of socioeconomic status
and taste, the proportion of variance that these measures explain is often low.
       The definition of cultural capital has also suffered from considerable ambiguity (Lamont and
Lareau 1988). On theoretical grounds, the use of the "capital" metaphor is potentially misleading insofar
3s it suggests an analogy with human capital. Whereas human capital comprises individual skills that are
task-related, the components of cultural capital are socially constructed or, as Bourdieu has put it,
"arbitrary." At the societal level, stocks of human capital contribute directly to the economic productivity
of labor; indeed, human capital theory emerged as a way of explaining surprising positive residuals in
gross national products during periods of educational expansion (Schultz 1961). By contrast, there is no
intrinsic reason that "stocks" of cultural capital should boost aggregate productivity; any positive
economic effect is likely to be incidental and to operate on economic institutions (primarily by increasing
levels of trust) rather than in the realm of production. At the individual level, whereas human capital is a
product of investment, cultural capital is more likely to be acquired effortlessly as a by-product of
socialization. (To be sure, one can strive for "culture," but the product of such striving is by its very
nature viewed as less "authentic" and is thus less valuable than an easy familiarity acquired without
conscious intent.) To put it another way, whereas the acquisition of human capital expresses an individual
logic of strategic competition, the acquisition and maintenance of cultural capital express a collective
logic of monopolistic closure at the level of the status group. In this respect, then, the rationalistic
imagery of the "capital" metaphor obscures the social-organizational basis from which the efficacy of
cultural resources derives.
       Ambiguity also reigns in the operationalization of cultural capital. Most studies have followed
Bourdieu's early work (1973) in using measures of participation in the high-culture arts, although the
concept is much broader. Why aesthetic measures have performed so well is not entirely clear.
       The arts are arguably the most thoroughly institutionalized form of prestigious culture in modern
industrial societies (DiMaggio 19823), but the extent to which aesthetic orientations per se are important
in their own right or are proxies for unmeasured forms of cultural capital—self-presentation, linguistic
skills, orientations toward status-seeking, or, as Lament (1992) suggests, moral stances—cannot be
determined. Sophisticated studies of face-to-face interaction, which analyze particular cues that serve as
bases of interpersonal trust and positive evaluations, are helpful in addressing the puzzle (Bernstein 1977;
Erickson and Schultz 1982). Yet intensive local studies cannot resolve the matter because they cannot
distinguish between cultural resources that help people get ahead in narrow social circles and well-
institutionalized cultural capital of more general utility.
       Indeed, insofar as the "capital" metaphor can be justified, it is in calling attention to the institutional
apparatus that guarantees the wide validity of certain cultural signals. For example, local or ephemeral
cultural resources (e.g., those related to cuisine or styles of dress) tend to lack such institutional backing,
whereas other, more fully institutionalized cultural resources (e.g., the high-culture arts or, earlier, forms
of religious expression) constitute a currency ("cultural capital" proper) of wide social, geographic, and
temporal scope. Ultimately, combining fine-grained studies of social interaction and national surveys with
a broader than customary range of cultural measures will be necessary to resolve these operational issues.
Finally, we need to understand why certain tastes or styles become valued more highly than others. The
contemporary hierarchy of aesthetic taste, for example, was the product of early industrial class formation
and political change, varying in detail but similar in result in Europe and the United States (DeNora 1991;
DiMaggio I982b, ig82c; Reddy 1984). It is clear that cultural hierarchies are maintained by economic
investments (e.g., expenditures on humanities courses) and state power (e.g., government grants to high-
cultural arts organizations or laws mandating the use of a single language in linguistically diverse
communities). It is equally plain that they are eroded by other processes (e.g., increases in the proportion
of cultural goods financed through market exchange as opposed to elite philanthropy). But we still lack a
comprehensive theory of the manner in which such hierarchies change.




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Personality and Attitudes

In the long history of research on the relationship between class and personality, there is no more creative
and influential work than the research program of Melvin Kohn and his colleagues. Whereas the readings
from Veblen and Bourdieu emphasize class differences in consumption, Kohn explores the relationship
between one's place in the stratification order and the inner self of values and attitudes.
       Actually, Kohn's work has more in common with Bourdieu's than this implies, for Bourdieu's
Distinction treats class fractions as differing not only in tastes but also in both ethos (underlying
evaluative dispositions) and habitus (experience-based schema that generate consistent behaviors across
an infinite range of situations). Thus, these authors agree that both normative and cognitive orientations
are linked to class and occupational positions because shared experiences associated with these positions
are generalized by social learning and shaped into enduring dispositions.
       Beyond this, though, the two differ markedly. Whereas Bourdieu emphasizes struggle among class
fractions and strategic interaction in complex social "fields," Kohn and his colleagues rely on learning
theory to the exclusion of strategic mechanisms and focus on the individual level of analysis. In addition,
although each views human personalities or habitus as both stable and plastic, Bourdieu places relatively
more weight on the role of the family and the broader social environment, whereas Kohn and his
colleagues focus almost exclusively on the influence of work.
       Both approaches have generated impressive long-term research programs. The work of Melvin
Kohn, Carmi Schooler, and their colleagues spans more than three decades from the publication of Kohn's
first paper on social class and parental values (1959) to research testing U.S. findings in comparative
perspective (1990). The early studies (Kohn and Schooler 1969) documented moderate but robust
associations between men's socioeconomic status (a weighted combination of education and occupational
position) and numerous values and orientations: the extent to which the men interviewed valued self-
directedness or conformity in their children; the characteristics they valued in themselves; the extent to
which they judged their work according to intrinsic standards or extrinsic rewards; their attitudes toward
morality and change; and their authoritarianism, self-confidence, and confidence in others. Social class
was related to more self-directed, optimistic, and flexible responses in all these areas, with educational
attainment and occupation (but not income) playing independent roles in predicting orientations and
values. Most effects of occupation were captured by measures of opportunities for self-directedness
inherent in the job.
       Kohn and Schooler reinterviewed many of the same men ten years later and used the results to test
the causal inferences in their earlier work (Kohn and Schooler 1978, 1982). After analyzing data from
both time periods, they reported that although values and orientations were stable over time, men whose
jobs were complex and who exercised considerable self-direction actually became more flexible, whereas
men who did simple work and were highly supervised became less so. These findings have been
sustained, extended, and elaborated in subsequent comparative work carried out on Polish men, Japanese
men and women, and American women working in the paid labor force and at home (Miller et al. 1979;
Schooler et al. 1984; Schooler and Naoi 1985; Kohn et al. 1990; Naoi and Schooler 1990). As in the case
of research on cultural capital, students of work and personality have stepped back to explore social-
structural as well as individual-level effects on values. For example, Schooler (1976, 1990) has argued
that the strength and endurance of feudalism are associated with lower levels of individualism in both
Europe and the Far East.
       This work has yielded a substantial body of knowledge. Perhaps most notable, given the mass of
research documenting statistical associations between measures of social rank and almost everything else,
is the success with which Kohn, Schooler, and their colleagues have identified what it is about class (and
occupation) that makes the difference. Rarely has stratification been defined and operationalized with
such theoretical precision. Equally important, as with research on cultural capital, the work demonstrates
that the effects of desirable positions in the stratification order are themselves resources that help men and
women get ahead.
       A few questions remain open. The effects of self-direction and complexity on values are more
notable for their ubiquity and robustness than for their strength. We know little about the factors that may
account for the variance that work content does not explain. Moreover, the research has focused on men's
and women's occupational lives; it has yet to explicate the role of schooling and early childhood
socialization in setting men and women on trajectories that later occupational experience may either
moderate or, more likely, reinforce.
       In comparison to Kohn's explicit focus on the mechanisms by which class affects psychological

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functioning, fames Davis (1982) assesses the gross association between several stratification measures
and answers to forty-nine diverse attitude questions. The relatively weak associations that emerge suggest
an important lesson: Simplistic notions about "class cultures" or expectations that people's attitudes arise
mechanically from their locations in the social order are naive. So are some more sophisticated and
widely held views (e.g., the status-inconsistency framework, which Davis also finds explanatorily
impotent). Although one might regard this lesson as obvious, many sociologists do make broad claims
about the connection between class and attitudes. The reading by Davis inoculates us against them. It
would be wrong, however, to infer that class does not matter. Rather, as Davis concludes, his results point
to the need for more sophisticated theories that explain why specific kinds of stratification influence the
distribution of particular kinds of attitudes.
       Davis also suggests that "new theories, perhaps more cultural than structural, may be in order." A
partial example is the theory of the "new class" (Gouldner 1979), which holds that highly educated
workers, especially those employed by public and nonprofit organizations, share a "culture of critical
discourse" engendering oppositional and antiauthoritarian political beliefs In his assessment of the theory,
Brint (1984) reported that tolerance was associated not with upper middle class status per se but with
particular locations within that class Cultural and social service professionals, for example, were more
tolerant than technical professionals or business managers Similarly, Macy (1988) found greater tolerance
among professionals employed in the nonprofit and public sectors than among those employed by
corporations. New class approaches edge toward the cultural in emphasizing independent effects of
socialization and of humanistic and social-scientific education on cognitive and discursive styles, but they
remain structural in that they view the political expression of such styles as shaped by interests associated
with workers positions in the division of labor.
       Rather than suggesting that class does not matter, such results imply that class matters in complex
ways A synthesis of work on racial attitudes by Schuman, Steeh, and Bobo (1985) likewise supports this
view Schuman and colleagues found that educational stratification influenced some white attitudes but
not others For example, education had a strong liberalizing effect on abstract attitudes toward racial
tolerance and equality but only weak effects on support for explicit government civil rights initiatives
There is no better guide to research on class and attitudes than the quotation from Alfred North
Whitehead that Schuman, Steeh, and Bobo placed at the head of their concluding chapter "Seek simplicity
and distrust it" Understanding regularities in relationships between class, culture, and attitudes requires
complex models, different models for different aspects of culture and different kinds of attitudes, and
theories of how macrostructural variation among societies affects the relationship between individual-
level measures of class, culture, and attitudes within them

Conclusions

Each body of literature reviewed here demonstrates the effects of aspects of stratification on culture, life
style, values, or attitudes. Each reports reciprocal effects on life chances of styles or values with which
hierarchically advantaged people are especially well endowed. And each has explored the role of
institutional and social-structural change in accounting for relationships observed at the individual level.
The same is true of many other analyses that demonstrate stratification effects on noneconomic outcomes
Research on physical and mental health, for example, reveals that illness, mortality, and emotional
distress are unequally allocated throughout the stratification system, with those at the bottom receiving far
more than their share (Kessler 1982, Williams 1990) Studies of access to social networks similarly find
that Euro Americans, men, and people with more education have wider social networks and more
resourceful connections than do African Americans, women, and the less educated (Marsden 1987). Still
other research suggests that these findings are related: When poor people face misfortune, they have
weaker social support on which to rely and therefore experience even more distress (Williams 1990). Like
values and life-styles, health and networks are predictors as well as consequences of success Emotional
distress and illness keep people from getting ahead, robust social networks help them push forward
(Granovetter 1974, Lin et al 1983).
       Taken together, the findings of research on noneconomic consequences of stratification (and the
reciprocal effects of these consequences) demonstrate processes of cumulative advantage and
disadvantage that are sometimes referred to as social reproduction (Bourdieu and Passeron 1977). We
must distinguish between micro- and macro-reproduction in order to pursue this point
       A social process is "reproductive" in the micro sense insofar as attitudes, values, and tastes linked
to social origins are themselves causally related to hierarchical position at some later point in a manner

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that reinforces initial advantage or disadvantage. Microreproduction occurs both intra-and
intergenerationally. Further, it entails both direct reciprocal relationships between pairs of variables (e.g.,
job complexity and intellectual flexibility) and more complex causal chains (e. g., having middle class
parents gives one a wide ranging social network that makes it easier to get an attractive and complex job,
thus increasing one's intellectual flexibility).
       The strength of microreproduction is an open question. Although studies of the relationship
between class and particular kinds of life-styles or attitudes often find significant but relatively small
effects, we have been remiss in investigating the ways in which such myriad small effects cumulate and
interact Rarely, if ever, do researchers explore the relationship between position m the stratification order
and a wide range of life-style variables (attitudes, values, cultural capital, linguistic capital, social
networks, and health) in a single set of models featuring reciprocal effects and appropriate interaction
terms The extent to which such analyses would reveal stronger microreproductive processes than appear
in more limited studies is an empirical question To address it and thus take microreproduction seriously,
we must relax otherwise productive barriers of specialization between different research subfields, each
with its own set of dependent variables, in the interest of theoretical and empirical synthesis.
       Whatever the results of such studies in particular national contexts, the effects of class on attitudes
and life-style are likely to vary over time and cross-nationally as a result of macrostructural factors By
macroreproduction, I refer to large-scale structural change (e. g., the rise and fall of industries or
communities), political decisions (e. g., those that alter the redistributive effects of the tax system), legal
factors (e. g., definitions of property rights), or institutional developments (e. g., the emergence of formal
organizations devoted to “high culture”) that strengthen individual-level relationships between social
origin and individual life chances.
       There are many macrostructural processes that merit further study. How might the effect (or
character) of pecuniary emulation vary between Western societies, where highly differentiated consumer
goods are allocated on the basis of price, and socialist (or postsocialist) societies, where narrower
selections of goods are allocated on the basis of queuing and rationing. 11 What are the effects of
macrostructural conditions (e. g., level of economic development or degree of religious and racial
heterogeneity) on the extent to which individual political attitudes are stratified by occupational and
educational attainment? What are the processes and mechanisms by which classes develop new tastes or
abandon old ones? If we are to answer such questions, historical and international comparative work must
assume even more central places in the study of stratification.

Notes
*
  I am grateful to David Grusky for superb and extensive substantive and editorial suggestions, which greatly
strengthened the paper.




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