Another aspect of the issue is people’s inability to appreciate the external factors that influence their lives. Everyone wants to believe that the things that they have achieved are entirely a result of their own personal ability and hard work.
Assuming that I believe success in life to be a result only of the decisions that I have made on a personal level, then I also believe that the failures in other people’s lives to be a result of the choices that they have personally made.
This type of thinking makes it very easy to dismiss the beliefs and opinions of people less successful then yourself.
Everyone wants to think that his or her culture is better. So much of our self-image is tied to our culture. We identify with a culture, so it is part of who we are. We also tend to discredit anything we don't know about or fully understand.
I think it is a little reductionist and deterministic to automatically ascribe a set of predetermined motives to someone based on their culture choices. In fact, we might call such an approach "reverse snobbery." There are reasons, other than "signifying social status," that one can embrace certain enthusiasms. Sometimes I think snobbery is in the eye of the beholder.
I have to agree with e-martin. While it does exist, a reason behind its existance does not. Essentially, all one can do is define their own reasoning behind why it exists (given it is, most likely, different for everyone).
That said, I believe that snobbery is simply another example of personal likes and dislikes. For many, snobbery comes from the fact that they tend to dislike those different from themselves. By deeming someone beneath them, a person can tend to be snobbish toward the other person. Many times this is the result of differences seen in Socioeconomic Status (SES).
The fact that many Americans, for example, share the same culture does not alleviate the fact that they are dissimilar on different levels.
As far as taste is associated with distinction and "breeding", our preferences can be argued to be important signifiers of our social status. I don't think this is a complete explanation of snobbery. I don't know if a complete explanation exists.
In any event, snobbery is clearly associated with taste. And taste is related to identity insofar as our cultural preferences indicate our social affiliations.
An American's preference for Eupopean futbol suggests something, however mild, about that American's views, just as a distaste for American football says something about this person's views.
Hmm...interesting. I'll have to say that I think snobbery exists between groups, not just individuals, and secondly, that I wonder why it's so prevalent. The English hate the French, the French hate the English, the Canadian French hate the English, the English hate the Canadian French. One Latino group hates the other, the other hates the first. It just goes on and on. Why, why, why?!