Bobos in Paradise
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|Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There|
|Publisher||Simon & Schuster|
|Publication date||May 3, 2000|
The word bobo, Brooks's most famous coinage, is an abbreviated form of the words bourgeois and bohemian, suggesting a fusion of two incompatible 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 have been unaware of a much earlier use of the term "bourgeois bohemians" in the 1918 novel "Tarr" by Wyndham Lewis.
- "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 then that she shook his hand very firm, very long, and he felt moved by this silent confession, taken a sudden crush to 'the little bourgeois bohemian and good child' who loved him for real, maybe."
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.
Brooks's thesis in Bobos in Paradise is that this "new upper class" represents a marriage between the liberal idealism of the 1960s and the self-interest of the 1980s.
Description and behaviour
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.
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."
- Champagne socialist
- Hipster (contemporary subculture)
- Limousine liberal
- Status-income disequilibrium
- Liberal elite
- The Social Animal by David Brooks
- "Love It? Check the Label". New York Times. September 6, 2007.