Pierre Bourdieu (August 1, 1930 to January 23, 2002) was a French "public intellectual." This label refers to thinkers who have an interested audience to study their descriptions of the world. Bourdieu for instance was not an existentialist, and not a Marxist, both easy professions at that era. He studied philosophy at the prestigious École Normale Supérieure but then expanded his studies to the extent he is sometimes labeled a sociologist. Bourdieu just wanted to understand what was going on.
One summary of his thought explains a major point:
Cultural capital – and the means by which it is created or transferred from other forms of capital – plays a central role in societal power relations, as this ‘provides the means for a non-economic form of domination and hierarchy, as classes distinguish themselves through taste’.... The shift from material to cultural and symbolic forms of capital is to a large extent what hides the causes of inequality
From his book, Practical; Reason: on the Theory of Action (1998) we found this interesting glimpse:
...[W]hen perceived through these social categories of perception, these principles of vision and division, the differences in practices, in the goods possessed, or in the opinions expressed become symbolic differences and constitute a veritable language. ...[T]he divisions drawn in Distinction ...correspond to real differences in...even the most unexpected, domains of practice. Thus to take the the example of a curious property [:], the distribution of the dog and cat owners ...[shows] commercial employers...tend to prefer dogs [and] intellectuals... tend to prefer cats.
More information, including a brief biography of Pierre Bourdieu, can be found here.