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Hipsters as affirmation of social Darwinism

Hipsters as affirmation of social Darwinism
November 14, 2010, 10:47:10 AM

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Over several years in the 1960s, Bourdieu and his researchers surveyed 1,200 people of all classes and mined government data on aspects of French domestic life. They asked, for instance, Which of the following subjects would be most likely to make a beautiful photograph? and offered such choices as a sunset, a girl with a cat or a car crash. From government dietary research, they took data on the classic question: Do you think French people eat too much? The statistical results were striking. The things you prefer — tastes that you like to think of as personal, unique, justified only by sensibility — correspond tightly to defining measures of social class: your profession, your highest degree and your father’s profession.

...

Once you take the Bourdieuian view, you can see how hipster neighborhoods are crossroads where young people from different origins, all crammed together, jockey for social gain. One hipster subgroup’s strategy is to disparage others as “liberal arts college grads with too much time on their hands”; the attack is leveled at the children of the upper middle class who move to cities after college with hopes of working in the “creative professions.” These hipsters are instantly declassed, reservoired in abject internships and ignored in the urban hierarchy — but able to use college-taught skills of classification, collection and appreciation to generate a superior body of cultural “cool.”

...

All hipsters play at being the inventors or first adopters of novelties: pride comes from knowing, and deciding, what’s cool in advance of the rest of the world. Yet the habits of hatred and accusation are endemic to hipsters because they feel the weakness of everyone’s position — including their own. Proving that someone is trying desperately to boost himself instantly undoes him as an opponent. He’s a fake, while you are a natural aristocrat of taste. That’s why “He’s not for real, he’s just a hipster” is a potent insult among all the people identifiable as hipsters themselves.

The attempt to analyze the hipster provokes such universal anxiety because it calls everyone’s bluff. And hipsters aren’t the only ones unnerved. Many of us try to justify our privileges by pretending that our superb tastes and intellect prove we deserve them, reflecting our inner superiority. Those below us economically, the reasoning goes, don’t appreciate what we do; similarly, they couldn’t fill our jobs, handle our wealth or survive our difficulties. - http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/14/books/review/Greif-t.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&src=me

The writer gets it nearly right, but has to drop in all of this idiotic Marxist propaganda about equality.

The interesting story is in the different types of hipsters and what they represent as social climbers.

Parallels to:

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Thorstein Veblen invented the term “conspicuous consumption” to refer to the showy spending habits of the nouveau riche, who unlike the established money of his day took great pains to signal their wealth by buying fast cars, expensive clothes, and shiny jewelery. Why was such flashiness common among new money but not old? Because the old money was so secure in their position that it never even occurred to them that they might be confused with poor people, whereas new money, with their lack of aristocratic breeding, worried they might be mistaken for poor people if they didn’t make it blatantly obvious that they had expensive things.

The old money might have started off not buying flashy things for pragmatic reasons – they didn’t need to, so why waste the money? But if F. Scott Fitzgerald is to be believed, the old money actively cultivated an air of superiority to the nouveau riche and their conspicuous consumption; not buying flashy objects becomes a matter of principle. This makes sense: the nouveau riche need to differentiate themselves from the poor, but the old money need to differentiate themselves from the nouveau riche.

This process is called countersignaling, and one can find its telltale patterns in many walks of life.



So my hypothesis is that if a certain side of an issue has very obvious points in support of it, and the other side of an issue relies on much more subtle points that the average person might not be expected to grasp, then adopting the second side of the issue will become a signal for intelligence, even if that side of the argument is wrong. - http://lesswrong.com/lw/2pv/intellectual_hipsters_and_metacontrarianism/

Hipsters adopt their viewpoints to socially climb; in fact, all people do this status climbing.

And the godfather of it all...

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Weber was well known in academia for his essay "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism," written after he toured the United Sates in 1904. It was the origin of the unfortunately non-Protestant cliché, "the work ethic." He introduced the terms "charisma" and "charismatic" in their current usage; also "bureaucracy," which he characterized as "the routinization of charisma." He coined the term "style of life," which was converted into the compound noun "lifestyle" and put to work as the title of a thousand sections of newspapers across the United States. But what caught my imagination was the single word "status." In a very short, very dense essay called "Class, Status, and Party" he introduced an entirely new concept.

I was by no means the first person to get excited over Weber's "status." The concept was well known within the field of sociology, although it was more often expressed in such terms as "social class," "social stratification," "prestige systems," and "mobility." Six years later Weber's terms "status-seeking" and "status symbols" began showing up in the press. Soon they were part of everyday language.

The great American sociologists of the 1950s, W. Lloyd Warner, the Lynns, August B. Hollingshead, E. Digby Baltzell, C. Wright Mills, David Riesman, were turning out studies of how Americans rated others and themselves, often unconsciously, according to race, ethnic group, address, occupation, vocabulary, shopping habits, bill-paying habits (personal checks in lump sums as opposed to installment payments in cash), bureaucratic status symbols (corner offices, fine wooden desks as opposed to metal ones, water carafes, sofas as well as chairs, speaker phones, etageres of brass and glass), education (the great divide existing between those who had bachelor's degrees from a respectable four-year college as opposed to those who didn't), even sexual practices. The upper orders made love with the lights on and no bed covers. The lower orders--in the 1950s--found this perverted. Sociologists never rejected Karl Marx's brilliant breakdown of society into classes. But his idea of an upper class--the owners of "the means of production"--and their satellites, the bourgeoisie, in a struggle with the masses, the working class, was too rigid to describe competition among human beast in the 20th century. Weber's entirely novel concept of "status groups" proved to be both more flexible and more penetrating psychologically.

Within the ranks of the rich, including the "owners of the means of production," there inevitably developed an inner circle known as Society. Such groups always believed themselves to be graced with "status honor," as Weber called it. Status honor existed quite apart from such gross matters as raw wealth and power. Family background, education, manners, dress, cultivation, style of life--these, the ineffable things, were what granted you your exalted place in Society.  - http://www.neh.gov/whoweare/wolfe/lecture.html

We are first animals competing for power, as Nietzsche said, and only secondly moral/social actors.

Re: Hipsters as affirmation of social Darwinism
November 14, 2010, 10:54:08 PM
Am I the only one who doesn't really know what a hipster is or doesn't encounter them enough to be bothered by them? Things were a lot easier when posers were all we had to deal with.

Re: Hipsters as affirmation of social Darwinism
November 15, 2010, 01:24:53 AM
Hipsters are such a hot topic here because, like anusites, they are elitist about their tastes.  This is the connection between hipsters and black metal.  Hipsters seek to be "elite," which is why they are attracted to metal despite their cultural differences; while metalheads have long believed that a certain taste in music made them better than everyone else (or they were better than everyone else and their superior taste in music was a badge of that), and outsiders coming in claiming to like the same stuff but not fully embracing the lifestyle threatens this sense of elitism.  I wonder if this is how the Jews felt when European people started following Christianity...  Either way, I think we've all dealt with your run-of-the-mill metalheads enough to know that wearing a Burzum shirt doesn't prove shit about your intelligence, so I really don't think we should be concerned about a few new inferior metal fans.  I believe hipsters could be converted into genuine people, and I think metalheads should attempt that instead of just bitching about how they're taking the thing that makes you feel unique and special.

Re: Hipsters as affirmation of social Darwinism
November 15, 2010, 01:35:52 AM
Hipsters are such a hot topic here because, like anusites, they are elitist about their tastes.  This is the connection between hipsters and black metal.  Hipsters seek to be "elite," which is why they are attracted to metal despite their cultural differences; while metalheads have long believed that a certain taste in music made them better than everyone else (or they were better than everyone else and their superior taste in music was a badge of that), and outsiders coming in claiming to like the same stuff but not fully embracing the lifestyle threatens this sense of elitism.  I wonder if this is how the Jews felt when European people started following Christianity...  Either way, I think we've all dealt with your run-of-the-mill metalheads enough to know that wearing a Burzum shirt doesn't prove shit about your intelligence, so I really don't think we should be concerned about a few new inferior metal fans.  I believe hipsters could be converted into genuine people, and I think metalheads should attempt that instead of just bitching about how they're taking the thing that makes you feel unique and special.

You think so?  Me, I'm just bothered by the age old problem of bad money driving out good.

Re: Hipsters as affirmation of social Darwinism
November 15, 2010, 01:48:59 AM
There wasn't any good to be driven out when the hipsters arrived and hipsters aren't going to be spending much money on this kind of music anyways.

Re: Hipsters as affirmation of social Darwinism
November 15, 2010, 07:34:18 AM
And as weird as this sounds from my view, in the cafe sense, hipsters flock to the coffee bars, but not spend money on much. If they are vegan or vegetarian it is only to save money, because meat costs money!  So for me I get upset, because the coffee house is special. It is a taste or concept of Europe that I miss.  Thankfully there is in Philly a couple of nice spots where hipster dare not tread: the Italian coffee house!

Re: Hipsters as affirmation of social Darwinism
November 15, 2010, 02:38:38 PM
Hipsters are such a hot topic here because, like anusites, they are elitist about their tastes.  This is the connection between hipsters and black metal.  Hipsters seek to be "elite," which is why they are attracted to metal despite their cultural differences; while metalheads have long believed that a certain taste in music made them better than everyone else (or they were better than everyone else and their superior taste in music was a badge of that), and outsiders coming in claiming to like the same stuff but not fully embracing the lifestyle threatens this sense of elitism.  I wonder if this is how the Jews felt when European people started following Christianity...  Either way, I think we've all dealt with your run-of-the-mill metalheads enough to know that wearing a Burzum shirt doesn't prove shit about your intelligence, so I really don't think we should be concerned about a few new inferior metal fans.  I believe hipsters could be converted into genuine people, and I think metalheads should attempt that instead of just bitching about how they're taking the thing that makes you feel unique and special.

Funny, I find myself in compliance with most of the actual writers for the ANUS website (not necessarily the forum posters), as well as an avid fan of black metal, and yet most of the people I socialize with have no knowledge of the website, and have a very basic knowledge of black metal, if that. Do I categorize my peers as true and not true? No. Is that what an elitist does? So you seem to imply, but by your definition, someone like myself inevitably must be an elitist. Am I some sort of paradox?

Point being, there are varying levels of morality and immorality present within the majority of society, and these levels are not static on an individual level either. I am all for the "elitist" idea of promoting the good, or a harmonious state of mental clarity, but I also feel that doing so involves working with your available resources in an effective manner. Do I think that some people (hipsters) trap themselves within a self-recurring cycle of self-reference and symbolic achievement, as opposed to achievement that unites symbol and action? Yeah, I do, but that doesn't mean that I'm going to lock myself in my room with my copy of The Antichrist and Hvis Lyset Tar Oss; that would be rather hypocritical.

Re: Hipsters as affirmation of social Darwinism
November 15, 2010, 03:09:12 PM
I like Burzum, but not enough Black Metal for these people to concern me. There are many species of black metal fags and if hipsters are just another type then that explains how I don't know anything about them.

Re: Hipsters as affirmation of social Darwinism
November 15, 2010, 09:17:41 PM
What good comes of criticizing the ontological nature of hipsters, or anyone else? When's the last time someone changed upon hearing such an argument? It certainly hasn't decreased the incidence of tattooed, streched ear, indie shirt-wearers around my area.

Re: Hipsters as affirmation of social Darwinism
November 16, 2010, 04:50:41 PM
When's the last time someone changed upon hearing such an argument?

Try some history lessons.

Re: Hipsters as affirmation of social Darwinism
November 20, 2010, 11:56:36 AM
Ya I donno, I think the point on weekly editorials on the "dangers of hipsterism" do have limited value.