And you thought $2 cups of coffee at your local Starbucks was just American Capitalism’s latest extravagant fad? Think again.
According to Jakob Norberg’s brief social history of coffee and coffeehouses published in this week’s edition of Eurozine, the Starbucks phenomenon is actually a maturing of an essential characteristic of Modernity. It is a kind of “third-space.” It is a social center where the “bourgeois” can enter into relationships with one another without the restrictions of family, civil society, or the state. It is a sort of “universal community,” integrated neither “by power nor economic interests, but by common sense.” Indeed, it is “a symbol of Gemütlichkeit, or the bourgeois desire to enjoy undisturbed security.”
Wow. All that and a cup of good java for just a couple of bucks? Maybe its not such a bad deal after all.
Oh, and speaking of Starbucks and the Sociology of Modernity, there is this collaborating tidbit in the most recent edition of Slate. Ron Rosenbaum has served up a venti double-shot espresso of rhetorical flourishes for us all to savor!