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Highbrow, Lowbrows, Middlebrow, Now
Our fascination with categorizing ourselves was fed in 1949 by a famous essay and chart that divided us by taste into different strata of culture. Now the man who invented these classifications brings us up to date.
June/july 1983 | Volume 34, Issue 4
And besides, it’s sociology. Don’t forget that. It seems to me that what we come down to is that although technology and broad social structure may change drastically, and so may specific tastes as to ideas and objects, the highbrow-lowbrow-middlebrow taste structure remains stubbornly the same. For example, a considerably higher percentage of our national population is college educated now than in 1949, and yet, you say, the national percentage of highbrows remains constant. At the other pole, you remarked in 1949 that lowbrows were to be found in approximately equal numbers in all income groups. May I assume that is still true?
Yes, I think so. I think there are still an awful lot of rich lowbrows.
You still haven’t announced your own class allegiance.
Are you asking me to declare myself?