Culture, Class, and Critical Theory: Between Bourdieu and the Frankfurt School, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Culture, Class, and Critical Theory

Between Bourdieu and the Frankfurt School, 1st Edition

By David Gartman


180 pages

Look Inside
Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Paperback: 9781138920583
pub: 2015-05-21
Hardback: 9780415524209
pub: 2012-10-16
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780203080818
pub: 2012-11-12
from $24.48

FREE Standard Shipping!


Culture, Class, and Critical Theory develops a theory of culture that explains how ideas create and legitimate class inequalities in modern society. This theory is developed through a critique and comparison of the powerful ideas on culture offered by Pierre Bourdieu and the Frankfurt School thinkers, especially Theodor Adorno. These ideas are illuminated and criticized through the development of two empirical cases on which Gartman has published extensively, automobile design and architecture.

Bourdieu and the Frankfurt School postulate opposite theories of the cultural legitimation of class inequalities. Bourdieu argues that the culture of modern society is a class culture, a ranked diversity of beliefs and tastes corresponding to different classes. The cultural beliefs and practices of the dominant class are arbitrarily defined as superior, thus legitimating its greater share of social resources. By contrast, the thinkers of the Frankfurt School conceive of modern culture as a mass culture, a leveled homogeneity in which the ideas and tastes shared by all classes disguises real class inequalities. This creates the illusion of an egalitarian democracy that prevents inequalities from being contested.

Through an empirical assessment of the theories against the cases, Gartman reveals that both are correct, but for different parts of modern culture. These parts combine to provide a strong legitimation of class inequalities.

Table of Contents

1. Modern Culture as Mass Unity or Ranked Diversity 2. Reification of Consumer Products: A General History Illustrated by the American Automobile 3. Culture as Class Symbolization or Mass Reification? A Critique of Bourdieu’s Distinction 4. Three Ages of the Automobile: The Cultural Logics of the Car 5. Why Modern Architecture Emerged in Europe, Not America: The New Class and the Aesthetics of Technocracy 6. Bourdieu’s Theory of Cultural Change: Explication, Application, Critique 7. Bourdieu and Adorno: Converging Theories of Culture and Inequality

About the Author

David Gartman is Professor of Sociology at the University of South Alabama.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Social and Political Thought

This series explores core issues in political philosophy and social theory. Addressing theoretical subjects of both historical and contemporary relevance, the series has broad appeal across the social sciences. Contributions include new studies of major thinkers, key debates and critical concepts.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Popular Culture
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Social Classes