Bobos in Paradise Questions and Answers
by David Brooks

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Discuss the rise of the educated class and who are they?

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In his book Bobos in Paradise, David Brooks describes the rise of a new metropolitan liberal elite. The French word "bobo" is a fusion of "bourgeois" and "bohemian," which, as Brooks points out, have traditionally been opposing concepts. The establishment, or bourgeois society, was always the mainstream culture of bankers, lawyers and business executives who lived a materialistic, capitalist lifestyle. The bohemians were members of an opposing counterculture of artists and writers who despised material possessions and conventional attitudes.

Brooks returned to the United States in the 1990s after a few years abroad to find a new educated class in the ascendent. These people were bobos, both bourgeois and bohemian. Brooks writes that:

It was now impossible to tell an espresso-sipping artist from a cappuccino-gulping banker.

Moreover, this similarity was not just a matter of appearances. The artist and the banker shared similar educational backgrounds and the same liberal but aspirational social and political attitudes, combining the counterculture of the 1960s with the social mobility and materialism of the 1980s.

Brooks believes that this new elite has risen in the United States (and many other places around the world) due to the importance of information in the global economy. The bohemian world of ideas has combined with the bourgeois world of capital to create an economic system within which knowledge is more vital than traditional commodities. The bobos are the educated elite who run this new knowledge-based economy.

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