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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Sophistication is the quality of refinement — displaying good taste, wisdom and subtlety rather than crudeness, stupidity and vulgarity. In the perception of social class, sophistication can link with concepts such as status, privilege and superiority.


Scope of sophistication

In social terms, sophistication can be seen as a form of snobbery.

A study of style conveys an idea of the range of possible elements though which one can demonstrate sophistication in elegance and fashion, covering the art of "[...] the shoemaker, the hairdresser, the cosmetologist, the cookbook writers, the chef, the diamond merchant, the couturieres, and the fashion queens, the inventors of the folding umbrella ... and of champagne."


In Ancient Greece, sophia was the special insight of poets and prophets. This then became the wisdom of philosophers such as sophists. But their use of rhetoric to win arguments gave sophistication a derogatory quality.

The system of modern Western sophistication has its roots in France, arguably helped along its way by the policies of King Louis XIV (reigned 1643–1715).

The English regarded sophistication as decadent and deceptive until the aristocratic sensibilities and refined elegance of Regency dandies such as Beau Brummell (1778–1840) became fashionable and admired.

Types of sophistication

Recognised varieties of sophistication include:

  • cultural sophistication (or culturedness)
  • intellectual sophistication

In the analysis of humor, Victor Raskin distinguishes "two types of sophistication: limited access, or allusive knowledge, and complex processing".

Acquiring sophistication

Methods of acquiring the appearance of personal sophistication include:

On a societal level commentators can associate various forms of sophistication with civilization.

Dictionary definition

  1. Enlightenment or education.
  2. Cultivated intellectual wordliness; savoir-faire.
  3. Deceptive logic; sophistry.
  4. Falsification or contamination.


From sophist

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Sophistication" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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