[Bobos] is the socio-economic group of the new information age elite
After a lot of further reporting and reading, it became clear that what I was observing is a cultural consequence of the information age. In this era ideas and knowledge are at least as vital to economic success as natural resources and finance capital. The intangible world of information merges with the material world of money, and new phrases that combine the two, such as "intellectual capital" and "the culture industry," come into vogue. So the people who thrive in this period are the ones who can turn ideas and emotions into products. These are highly educated folk who have one foot in the bohemian world of creativity and another foot in the bourgeois realm of ambition and worldly success. The members of the new information age elite are bourgeois bohemians. Or, to take the first two letters of each word, they are Bobos.
When I design online ads for American Apparel, I almost always look for an angle that will provoke. Outrage, self-righteousness, and titillation all work equally well. Naturally, the sexy ones are probably those you remember most, but the formula worked for all types of images. Photos of kids dressed up like adults, dogs wearing clothes, ad copy that didn’t make any sense—all high-valence, viral images. If I could generate a reaction, I could propel the ad from being something I had to pay for people to see (by buying ad inventory) to something people would gladly post on the front page of their highly trafficked websites.
This cult of "intelligence" centers on the idea that human cleverness is the supreme value . . . [but] all around us, we can see people trying to solve by logical argument or by the acquiring of information, problems that can only be dealt with by a change of heart—a change of attitude and new policy and direction. But this is the last thing we try . . . in contemporary culture, the passionate, quasi-religious exaltation of our pure cognitive faculties is surely a defense mechanism against this awkward fact.
Some new products and ideas slip into the well-worn grooves of people's expectations. In fifteen out of the last sixteen ...