Social class and taste in the context of US cities Validating Bourdieu’s theory of distinction using restaurant reviews

Sohrab Rahimi, Mallika Bose

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

2 Scopus citations


In this study, we intend to validate Bourdieu’s theory of distinction in the context of United States by using crowdsourced restaurant reviews from Yelp. Bourdieu argues that cultural capital was employed and reinforced by people of higher class to distinguish themselves from the people of lower social standing. This difference emerges from the fact that people of different groups have access to different resources depending on a multitude of variables such as race, class, gender, sexuality, religion, and age. Bourdieu’s argument has been critiqued by many scholars on the grounds that it may not be generalized to the current social condition of the United States. Generally, critiques argue that this theory is too deterministic, diminish the influence of individual’s choice and variability, data used in Bourdieu’s study is outdated and doesn’t take new societal changes into consideration, and some argue that individualism in the modern age has added more intricacy to one’s cultural choice which cannot be only explained by social hierarchy. To validate Bourdieu’s theory, we investigate the association between foods and drinks mentioned in different restaurants and a set of demographic factors which are used to define social class. The results of this study show that different food and drink types are associated with certain demographic features. Based on this observation we conclude that Bourdieu’s theory of distinction is still evident in the context of US cities. This theory helps us better understand the structure of social class in the American cities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2nd ACM SIGSPATIAL Workshop on Geospatial Humanities, GeoHumanities 2018
EditorsBruno Martins, Patricia Murrieta-Flores
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc
ISBN (Electronic)9781450360326
StatePublished - Nov 6 2018
Event2nd ACM SIGSPATIAL Workshop on Geospatial Humanities, GeoHumanities 2018 - Seattle, United States
Duration: Nov 6 2018 → …

Publication series

NameProceedings of the 2nd ACM SIGSPATIAL Workshop on Geospatial Humanities, GeoHumanities 2018


Other2nd ACM SIGSPATIAL Workshop on Geospatial Humanities, GeoHumanities 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Period11/6/18 → …

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design
  • Information Systems

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