Culture and class in Canada


  • Gerry Veenstra University of British Columbia



cultural consumption, taste, cultural practices, social space, social class, economic capital, cultural capital, cultural omnivorism, cultural re-differentiation, Bourdieu, Canada


I apply Pierre Bourdieu’s conception of relationally-defined social spaces of capitals and classes that delimit highbrow and lowbrow cultural forms to Canadian society. I use categorical principal components analysis techniques and a nationally representative survey dataset from 1998 containing measures of economic capital, cultural capital and a wide range of cultural practices to construct a visual representation of Canadian social space which is directly inspired by the social space for 1960s France crafted by Bourdieu in Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste (Bourdieu 1984). After identifying nascent class groupings and potentially highbrow and lowbrow cultural practices in my depiction of social space, I speculate on precisely how such cultural practices might factor into class dynamics in Canada, in particular examining the role played by “cultural omnivorism” in identifying and reinforcing class distinctions.

Author Biography

Gerry Veenstra, University of British Columbia

Associate Professor, Department of Sociology Senior Scholar, Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Faculty Associate, Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies Chair, Health & Society Minor