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Consider This: The Bobo Future

Bourgeois bohemians wield inordinate power over how we think about consumerism, morality—and faith itself.
2000This article is part of CT's digital archives. Subscribers have access to all current and past issues, dating back to 1956.

BOBOS IN PARADISE

The New Upper Class and How They Got There

Do you know people who have fantasized about simplifying life by purchasing a 250-acre Montana retreat? Or, if the retreat is a little out of their league, do they buy groceries at a store that announces "Organic Items Today: 130"?Chances are that David Brooks, a senior editor at The Weekly Standard, would call such people bourgeois bohemians (or "Bobos").In his new book Bobos in Paradise, Brooks invents a new literary genre, "comic sociology," to describe the rise of a new upper class—one in which membership is determined by educational level, achievement, shared attitudes, and consumption patterns, rather than heredity.As the oxymoronic name suggests, Bobos are the result of the clash between the bourgeois desire for order and decorum and the bohemian desire for personal liberation.In a statement that will surprise many cultural conservatives, Brooks tells readers that while "conservatives won the culture war, they lost the peace." Yesterday's bohemians, people who grew up in the '60s and '70s and once reviled bourgeois attitudes toward order, thrift, and piety, now understand the need for law and order, for kids to listen to their teachers, and for showing up for meetings on time.Conservatives lost the peace because, in the process of embracing bourgeois sensibilities, Bobos transformed them. Bobos, as Brooks writes, march under "reconciling banners" that allow them to live like "organization men" while still fancying themselves hipsters.

Financial Correctness

Take money. Bobos, who grew up rejecting materialism and equating bourgeois prosperity with greed, now find themselves running corporations and making more money than they ever imagined. What are sensitive ...

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