Human Studies

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 383–399 | Cite as

From Arbiter to Omnivore. The Bourgeois Transcendent Self and the Other in Disorganised Modernity

  • Tony KearonEmail author
Special issue


This article will examine the emergence of a distinct bourgeois identity in modernity which differentiated itself from comparable social groups through its desire to exert ‘virtuous’ control through engagement with reform and philanthropy, and through the symbolic construction of a transgressive, socially marginal but redeemable other as subject of this reform. The ontological insecurities of late modernity had a profound impact on the sources of bourgeois identity, and this article will explore the emergence of the cultural omnivore as a new form of social distinction which is no longer virtuous, but is still a manifestation of the desire to express identity through demonstrating control. It will outline the impact of the emerging omnivore on relationships between the bourgeois self and the marginal/deviant other, particularly in terms of the extent to which the reconceptualisation of ‘other’ as cultural univore exacerbates the exclusion and criminalisation of the marginalized other.


Bourgeois identity Social exclusion Cultural omnivore Univore 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Sociology and Criminology and Institute for Social PolicyUniversity of KeeleKeele, StaffsUK

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