Bobos, as defined in the book Bobos in Paradise by David Brooks, are the final product of the cultural war between the creative class (the Bohiemians) and the mercantile class (the bourgeois). His Bobos are characterized by the kind of couple you read about in the Vows section of the New York Times, where both of the newlyweds are Summa cum Laude from some top law or business school, with stellar careers, straight white teeth and no sign of having done anything transgressive, ever, yet keep insisting that they're actually wild and wacky free spirits because they both like the very latest Asian restaurants and buying stuff from Pottery Barn. They express their madcap, frivolous nature, they say, by proposing underwater, in hot-air balloons over the Loire Valley, or as the climax to a "spontaneous" musical number set in a diner, with bachelor parties extending over a weekend (or a whole week), and with weddings "personalized" by writing the service in Klingon, dressing in ironic Fifties costumes, having the ceremony at a Renaissance Faire, or other "original" touches, and they figure their lives will continue in just this carefree vein!
Athem. According to David Brooks, these latte-swilling, workaholic madcaps are the "new ruling class", having fused the seriousness of the Reagan administration with the playful humor of the hippies, proudly wearing ruffled hair and scuffed shoes even as they decide policy, work in the District Attorney's office, and do other ultra-adult things. America is now a meritocracy, and these caring predators, these rapacious artists, these gorgeous oxymorons are going to decide what's right for the rest of us.
I sincerely hope not. Oddly, though, this scenario reminds me very much of the very un-Boho Fifties and early Sixties, when young professionals a little more affluent than Ozzie and Harriet were supposed to have been, loved to get wild and crazy by holding exotic backyard luaus, wearing gender-bending pink shirts (for him) or charcoal grey striped Capri pants (for her), decorating their pads with inexpensive Japanese prints and folk art, and holding TV parties where everyone took off their shoes, sat around the coffee table eating fondue or similar tidbits washed down with copious Martinis, and watched Leonard Bernstein lecture on Omnibus while discussing the pros and cons of the latest book to have its very own obscenity trial. While these soirees may have seemed rather racy to their constituents, most of the time, both members of the couple would return home (after a decent interval) with their marriage intact and no social fabric even slightly creased. In short, what do you think overeducated young professionals do, play Scrabble?
Then, too, his roster of Great Bobos makes me faintly depressed: his great exemplar is Hillary Clinton, a person who seems to have so little whimsey (and even less street cred, after having confessed to being bewildered to the point of being frightened by game consoles and other entertainment electronics) that I wonder how she ever dealt with having a child in the house. On the other hand, we have very wealthy people with no degree at all (mostly in technical fields) who live very boho lives, but aren't ever mentioned: in this regard I'd nominate Steve Jobs.
In short, Bobos aren't anything new at all, simply 80's Yuppies in another light. Let's see what the decade brings that's really new.