So says Pierre Bourdieu in Distinction. The most fruitful idea to come to me so far from our sojourn in Bourdieu's great study is the notion of taste endogamy.
It is well known that people with similar backgrounds are more likely to marry one another. The normal sociological standards for measuring background are rather blunt instruments, though. We run across thousands of people with similar backgrounds who we would not think of marrying. The subtler connector is shared taste. Taste is, certainly, connected with background – that is one of the main points of the book. But taste is also more individual than just a shared class measure. Taste is individual enough to bring two people together.
And then, as Bourdieu notes, we often see "the astonishing harmony of ordinary couples who … progressively match each other by a sort of mutual acculturation." This is, I think, what Max Weber means by "elective affinity." I can testify to this in my own marriage in many ways. My favorite, which is delightful for its sheer mystery, is that my wife and I, having started out with different favorite colors, now have grown to share a passion for yellow. Neither of us could say why this is so, but it does make decorating together easier.
Sociologists are accustomed to measuring similarities of education and occupation between parents and children. What the idea of taste endogamy suggests is that we should be just as interested in comparing parents-in-law and children-in-law. At the least, we should measure similarities in education and occupation between a man and his father-in-law and a woman and her mother-in-law. Deeper than that, though, we should look for similarities of taste within those pairs. If is woman sees a similarity in taste between her father and her potential husband, it would go a long way toward explaining their attraction and marital success.
As Bourdieu observes,
"Two people can give each other no better proof of the affinity of their tastes than the taste they have for each other."