Department of Sociology

Snobbery and egalitarianism in the Norwegian and British upper-middle class

Vegard Jarness from the Department of Sociology and Sam Freidman from London School of Economics have recently published an article in Poetics.


Main content

The article explores symbolic boundary drawing among the upper-middle classes in Norway and the UK. A distinction between ‘honourable’ and ‘visceral’ selves is used to analyse contradictions between interviewees’ expressions of judgement and openness. The analysis shows how members of the upper-middle class go to lengths to downplay difference in social encounters. In this way, they benefit publically from adhering to norms of openness, while privately continuing to harbour snobbishness. Contrary to claims that the pervasiveness of egalitarian moral sentiments makes cultural-aesthetical boundaries less effective in social life, it is argued that flying under the moral radar of egalitarian sentiments may – intentionally or otherwise – help secure the legitimacy of cultural distinctions.

The article can be accessed here.