Bobos in Paradise

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Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There
Author David Brooks
Publisher Simon & Schuster
Publication date
May 3, 2000
Pages 288
ISBN 0-684-85378-7

Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There, ISBN 0-684-85378-7, is a book by David Brooks, first published in 2000.


The word bobo, Brooks' most famously coined term, is an abbreviated form of the words bourgeois and bohemian, suggesting a fusion of two distinct social classes (the counter-cultural, hedonistic and artistic bohemian, and the white collar, capitalist bourgeois). The term is used by Brooks to describe the 1990s successors of the yuppies. Often of the corporate upper class, they claim highly tolerant views of others, purchase expensive and exotic items, and believe American society to be meritocratic. In colloquial use, bobo is often utilized in place of the word yuppie, which has acquired negative connotations. Even Brooks uses yuppie in a negative sense throughout his book.

Brooks may[citation needed] have been unaware of a much earlier use of the term "bourgeois bohemians" in the 1918 novel "Tarr" by Wyndham Lewis.

One may find a forerunner of the phrase in the 1885 novel Bel-Ami by French writer Guy de Maupassant:

"Ce fut elle alors qui lui serra la main très fort, très longtemps ; et il se sentit remué par cet aveu silencieux, repris d'un brusque béguin pour 'cette petite bourgeoise bohème et bon enfant' qui l'aimait vraiment, peut-être."

Roughly translated into English, Maupassant wrote:

"It was she who shook his hand very firmly, and for a long time; and he was stirred by this silent admission, and brusquely fell for this good-natured little bourgeois bohemian,' who truly loved him, perhaps."

The French phrase bourgeois bohème ("bourgeois bohemian") is also used by French cartoonist Claire Bretécher in the last strip of the 3rd album of her cartoon series Les Frustrés (fr), published in 1978.


The thesis is that during the late 1970s a new upper class arose that represented a fusion between the bourgeois world of capitalist enterprise and the hippie values of the bohemian counterculture. He refers to these individuals as bobos, a portmanteau word for "bohemian bourgeois".

Description and behaviour[edit]

Bobos are noted for their aversion to conspicuous consumption while emphasizing the "necessities" of life. Brooks argues that they feel guilty in the way typical of the so-called "greed era" of the 1980s so they prefer to spend extravagantly on kitchens, showers, and other common facilities of everyday life. They "feel" for the labor and working class and often purchase American-made goods rather than less expensive imports. The term "bobo chic" was applied to a style of fashion, similar to "boho chic", that became popular in uptown New York in 2004-5.[citation needed]

Bobos often relate to money as a means rather than an end; they do not disdain money but use it to achieve their ends rather than considering wealth as a desirable end in itself.

The New York Times, where Mr. Brooks works, has written about the changing tastes of bobos: "Made in the U.S.A." used to be a label flaunted primarily by consumers in the Rust Belt and rural regions. Increasingly, it is a status symbol for cosmopolitan bobos, and it is being exploited by the marketers who cater to them."[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Love It? Check the Label". New York Times. September 6, 2007. 

External links[edit]