Bobo is often used in place of the word yuppie, which has usually negative connotations. In fact, even Brooks uses yuppie in a negative sense throughout his book.
Brooks's thesis in Bobos in Paradise is that this "new upper class" represents a marriage between the liberal idealism of the 1960s and the self-interest of the 1980s. Critics of Brooks's thesis argue that he does not provide an argument as to how this elite is new, and that the bobo trend merely represents changing tastes and preferences of a preexisting upper class (not a product of social mobility).
Bobos are noted for avoiding indulging in high acts of conspicuous consumption in favor of spending the greatest amount possible on the "necessities". Brooks argues that they feel guilty consuming in the way typical of the so-called "greed era" of the 1980s so they prefer to spend extravagantly on kitchens, showers, and other common facilities of everyday life. They "feel" for the labor and working class but may refuse to buy American made goods. The term "bobo chic" was applied to a style of fashion, similar to "boho chic", that became popular in uptown New York in 2004-5.
Bobos often relate to money as a means rather than an end; they do not disdain money but use it to achieve their ends rather than considering wealth as an achievable end in itself.
The New York Times has written about the changing tastes of bobos: "'Made in the U.S.A.' used to be a label flaunted primarily by consumers in the Rust Belt and rural regions. Increasingly, it is a status symbol for cosmopolitan bobos, and it is being exploited by the marketers who cater to them.
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