in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There
By David Brooks
A Touchstone Book, 284 pp, 2000
Okay, so what's a Bobo?
According to author David Brooks, a
senior editor at The Weekly
Standard, a Bobo is a bourgeois bohemian.
What's a bourgeois bohemian?
That's not quite as simple. According
to Brooks, the bourgeois ethos was predominant in America in the 1950s
through the early 1960s. The bourgeois, made up the upper class,
consisted of old money and well-connected offspring. The bourgeois
believed that birth and heritage determined success. Membership in
certain clubs was valued and necessary, a sign of prestige and
acceptance. The bourgeois believed in thrift, self-restraint,
discipline, and duty. And most of all, making money. A lot of it.
But then the bohemians came along, the
well-connected offspring, and changed everything. Bohemians valued merit
and work. Heritage mattered little, but a degree from Harvard meant a
great deal. Bohemians valued the spirit, creativity, self-expression,
art. They dominated the later 60s and 70s. The bourgeois made a brief
comeback in the 80s, but the 90s saw a new phenomenon. The bohemians
integrated some characteristics of the bourgeois while still retaining
their bohemian values. They became Bobos.
Brooks examines aspects of Bobo life -
their religion (whatever feels good, with some boundaries, but few firm
beliefs), work (work hard, have fun), play (play hard, learn something,
become one with the environment), and so on. He pokes gentle fun, but
does not entirely disapprove. In fact, he finds much to admire in the
Funny at times, sad at others, this is
a gem of a social critique. As an added bonus, if you're a writer, you
could use this book to create some interesting characters.