There are a number of more specific reasons why Bourdieu' s work is so important.
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First, there is the major contribution which he has made to the debate about the relationship between structure and action which re-emerged during the late s and early s as the key question for social theory. Second, and by interesting comparison with, say, Anthony Giddens, that contribution has consistently been framed by an engagement between systematic empirical work — whether relying on ethnography or Pierre Bourdieu 2 social survey approaches — and reflexive theorising. It is the tension between these two aspects of Bourdieu' s work that makes it so interesting: These are questions of which many sociologists and anthropologists — whether they see themselves as primarily 'theorists' or 'researchers' — have, to the detriment of their enterprise, lost sight.
Finally — although it would be possible to provide further justifications for writing a short introduction to his work — Bourdieu is, by virtue of the three points mentioned above, enormously good to think with. His work invites, even demands, argument and reflection. If one makes the initial effort, it is, I suspect, impossible to remain neutral about what he is saying. Whether one agrees with him or not there is something to be learned, something to be turned to good purpose in one's own work, and irritating, persistent problems — creative sociological doubts — which are impossible to ignore.
He raises tricky questions and helps to provide some of the means by which they may be answered. Bourdieu' s work offers the patient reader a tremendously useful intellectual resource. As far as I'm concerned, I have very pragmatic relationships with authors: I turn to them as I would to fellows and craft-masters, in the sense those words had in the mediaeval guild — people you can ask to give you a hand in difficult situations. Such a relationship is all the more necessary because, until fairly recently, the appropriation of Bourdieu' s work in the English-speaking world has been problematic.
Because of the difficulty of his work, and also perhaps because of the uses to which the esoteric writings of a particular species of French intellectual can be put in the accumulation of cultural capital in certain areas of Anglophone academic life, Bourdieu has been more read about than read, more talked about than critically discussed. Some of his books — Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture is probably the best example — are very widely cited.
By comparison with authors such as Barthes or Foucault, however, the critical literature dealing with Bourdieu is relatively sparse, although this lack is now beginning to be remedied. Martine Segalen, for example, has recently discussed Bourdieu' s influence upon French ethnology. She defines 'strategies', a key concept in Bourdieu' s analytical framework, as 'the product of social rules where demographic variables and economic and "symbolic" A book for reading 3 capital intervene '.
A further problem is the fact that much of the discussion of Bourdieu concentrates on a fairly narrow spectrum of his work. Very few critiques span the full range — from Algerian ethnography to the sociology of education to methodology — or even a substantial slice of it. This, of course, may be understandable. Bourdieu's vision is broader and his scholarship more substantial than most of those, and I include myself in this, who write about him.
It is a critical narrowness, however, which has unfortunately encouraged a less than adequate appreciation of what he is saying. It does Bourdieu a considerable injustice, for example, to regard him as primarily a sociologist of education or culture. There is much more to the man than this. An example of this kind of tunnel vision can be found in social anthropologist Maurice Bloch's discussion of Bourdieu's structuralist analysis of the Kabyle house a paper which is discussed in detail in Chapter Two. It is really only possible for Bloch to argue that Bourdieu's model of the socialisation process is unidimensional and inadequate — i.
As a consequence, therefore, of superficiality, narrowness of focus or disciplinary fastidiousness one often encounters Bourdieu in other people's writing as either a straw man or an idol without feet of clay. With the exception of his work on sport, I intend to make an attempt here to remedy this situation by dealing with all of Bourdieu's oeuvre.
In particular, I hope to convince the reader of the centrality to sociology and anthropology — certainly inasmuch as they are intellectual enterprises necessarily rooted in empirical research — of Bourdieu's approach to epistemology and methodology. To reiterate my earlier point about 'being good to think with', his significance in this respect lies not so much in whether one accepts or rejects his arguments, but in the fact that he makes them at all.
This book, therefore, has three objectives: Before going on to tackle this agenda, however, it may be useful to situate his work in its proper context, his personal biography and intellectual career. Although he now occupies the most senior chair in sociology in France, at the College de France, he has come to it in a roundabout fashion. According to his most faithful English translator, Richard Nice, there is a myth — that of 'the peasant boy confronting urban civilisation' — and there is a more serious version of Bourdieu's life, that of a 'petit bourgeois and a success story '.
The difficulties I had in studying Kabyle peasants, their marriage patterns or rites, 'from above' is surely related to my encounter, as a child, with peasants whose views on such matters as honour or dishonour were in no form different from my own. Born in Denguin, a small town in the Beam area of the Departement des Basses-Pyrenees in south-eastern France, on 1 April , Pierre Bourdieu is the son of a civil servant, un fonctionnaire.
More petit bourgeois than peasant, perhaps, but it was a rural area and close to the land. In the early s he attended the Ecole normale superieure in Paris, an elite teacher training college. Although he graduated as an agrege de philosophic, he refused to write a thesis in reaction, by his own account, to the pedestrian and authoritarian nature of the education which was on offer.
It was not only the institution, however, with which he and others were uncomfortable: The pressure exerted by Stalinism was so exasperating that, around , we had founded at the Ecole normale with Bianco, Comte, Marin, Derrida, Patiente and others a Committee for the Defence of Freedom, which Le Roy Ladurie denounced in the communist cell at the Ecole Then, in , he was conscripted, serving for two years with the French Army in Algeria. It was this experience more than any other which appears to mark the beginning of his journey from philosophy to the social sciences.
It was also a political experience: After two arduous years during which there was no possibility of doing research I could do some work again. I began to write a book with the intention of high-lighting the plight of the Algerian people and, also, that of the French settlers whose situation was no less dramatic I was appalled by the gap between the views of French intellectuals about this war and how it should be brought to an end, and my own experiences.
Maybe I wanted to be useful in order to overcome my guilty conscience about merely being a participant observer in this appalling war. He has described this, his first book, as 'the poor attempt of an outsider' ; be that as it may, it now, with the benefit of hindsight, appears to sit outside the subsequent developmental stream of his career. Very much a work of empirical social investigation, it offers, even yet, a wealth of information about Algeria and its peoples A book for reading 5 but little in the way of analysis.
It was, nonetheless, a beginning and it provided him with useful research experience.
On his return to France in he spent a year as an assistant in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Paris. Having become something of an anthropologist, albeit a self- taught one, he attended Levi-Strauss's seminars at the College de France and ethnology lectures at the Musee de V Homme. He also returned to reading Marx and worked as Raymond Aron's assistant. Now it was sociology which beckoned. Following three years at the University of Lille he returned to Paris in , as Director of Studies at VEcole pratique des hautes etudes, the Parisian power base upon which his subsequent career was initially founded.
From this point on we witness an evergathering momentum of research activity and publication. A research grouping began to accrete around Bourdieu; in the rarefied intellectual cockpit of Paris he became a patron. In particular, there was the foundation in of the Centre de Sociologie Europeenne, of which he remains the Director, and the subsequent launch of its associated journal, Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, an innovative academic publishing venture which mixed text, photographs and illustrations in a refreshing and, until relatively recently, unique style.
There are also a number of long-standing collaborators — Boltanski, Darbel, de St Martin and Passeron, to name only some — with whom Bourdieu has worked on what is obviously a programmatic and, to a degree, collective enterprise. There seems little doubt, however, that he is the driving force, much more than a first among equals: I see the research group as a very little group, in comparison with others.
Also the people who work with me are very modest. There are some of us who think that it is a strength of the group that they work so much, and that they are also so modest. They will accept and do things that arrogant people would not do and that is very important. The one tempers the other to create a sociology that is never less than fascinating. In , following various episodes of internal politics in the wake of Raymond Aron's retirement, and in competition with Boudon and Touraine, Bourdieu was appointed to the chair at the College de France.
He continues to run the Centre for European Sociology and to research and to publish profusely. Whether he was originally a peasant or a petit-bourgeois, he has arrived; there is, in terms of the institutions of French education, nowhere to which he may further aspire.
It has been a long journey from fieldwork in Algeria to the College de France; in becoming a Professor of Sociology, the anthropologist has finally come all the way home. Insofar as he is either a sociologist or an anthropologist, Bourdieu remains, however, something of a philosopher. Philosophy — or, more accurately, perhaps, a fascination with some of the fundamental problems of philosophy: It is this philosopher's stance towards the world, tempered by the experience of conducting actual research, which lies behind his interest in Pierre Bourdieu 6 epistemology and issues of methodology.
What is more, it is that research background which enables him, on the other hand, to reject the omniscient pretensions and totalising ambitions of philosophy. Rather than attempting to pronounce on 'the big questions' — 'the meaning of life' — Bourdieu is more interested in how those questions become possible and the manner in which that meaning is practically accomplished as a social phenomenon. Having summarised something of his biography, what of Bourdieu' s intellectual formation? We have already seen him refer to his rejection of both Stalinism and institutional conservatism while a student, and to his exasperation with the French left's understanding of the Algerian war.
Elsewhere he has spoken with some feeling of his impatience with intellectual fashions and those who promote them. He may now be one of its brightest stars, but it is in obstinate and ambiguous reaction to the professional and intellectual world of which he is a member the same impulse which has informed his research into French higher education and cultural taste that his thinking has developed. The first important reaction was against the existentialist phenomenology of Sartre, perhaps the ascendant school of thought and political stance of the Paris of Bourdieu' s student days.
Once again, this was, for Bourdieu, a political statement as much as anything else.
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Commenting subsequently upon Sartre's arguments concerning the transformative power of revolutionary consciousness in Being and Nothingness, Bourdieu argues that, If the world of action is nothing other than this universe of interchangeable possibles, entirely dependent on the decrees of the consciousness which creates it and hence totally devoid of objectivity, if it is moving because the subject chooses to be moved, revolting because he chooses to be revolted, then emotions, passions and actions are merely games of bad faith, sad farces in which one is both bad actor and good audience.
There is, if you like, an objective social reality beyond the immediate interactional sphere and the self-conscious awareness of individuals. The nature of that Objective' reality, social structure in Anglo-American sociological usage, is, however, equally problematic. As an apprentice anthropologist Bourdieu came into contact with the other great edifice of post-war French thought, structuralism, in the person of Levi-Strauss.
It is in his reaction to this that the other side of Bourdieu' s theoretical dialectic is to be found. In the first instance, and indeed for some time, he worked as a 'blissful structuralist ', the apogee of this aspect of his development being his acclaimed analysis of the Kabyle house as a symbolic system.
Structuralism, he began to realise, had little or no explanatory or predictive power: It was only after a detour over terrain familiar to myself — on the one hand, life in the Beam where I come from, and university life on the other — that I uncovered for myself the objective presuppositions of the structuralist approach; one of them being the privileged position accorded to the observer vis-a-vis the native population which, it is assumed, are ineluctably trapped within the unconscious. My intention was to bring real-life actors back in who had vanished at the hands of Levi-Strauss and other structuralists, especially Althusser, through being considered as epiphenomena of structures.
I do mean 'actors' not 'subjects'. An action is not the mere carrying out of a rule. This he regards as the key and the ultimate dualistic category which structures and organises social science and, at the end of the day, the root of social science's inadequacies. As a principle framing sociological and anthropological thinking, this opposition derives further force from its affinity to common-sense notions about the nature of the social world. His attempt to overcome this fundamental dualism, through the introduction into his analysis of practice of notions such as habitus, field and strategy, will be discussed in subsequent chapters.
There are other ways, of course, to look at the development of Bourdieu's sociology. Where, for example, does he stand in relation to the three great 'founding fathers', Marx, Weber and Durkheim? This may be a very useful question to ask; certainly, there seems to be some disagreement about the matter.
Stuart Hall, for example, has described him as offering the possibility of 'an adequate Marxist theory of ideology' by virtue of his successful synthesis of Marxism and structuralism. Thompson, however, it is as an antidote to the errors of Marxist structuralism, as exemplified by Althusser, that Bourdieu is to be recommended. From his own point of view, the question is both more straightforward and less reasonable: From Marx, particularly the early Marx of the Theses on Feuerbach, he derives his interest in practice.
Weber, perhaps the most important of the trio as an influence, can be seen behind the interest in life-style and status, the extension of market models into fields of analysis other than the economic and the notion of 'the field' as a model for thinking about ongoing social pattern. Durkheim Pierre Bourdieu 8 and indeed, Mauss is the source of the interest in social classification. These 'canonical' social theorists are, above all, resources to be used as, and if, appropriate: In the same way, one should follow Marx's advice when he said T am not a Marxist', and be an anti-Marxist Marxist.
One may think with Weber or Durkheim, or both, against Marx to go beyond Marx and, sometimes, to do what Marx could have done, in his own logic. Each thinker offers the means to transcend the limitation of the others. In the first sense, Sartre and Levi-Strauss are both significant influences. In a more positive fashion, and leaving aside Marx, Weber and Durkheim, Bourdieu has clearly been influenced by a diverse range of writers. Two, in particular, strike me as important: Wittgenstein, with his insights into the role of language in the constitution of the social world and lived experience, and Goffman, whose personal brand of interactionism seems to underpin much of Bourdieu' s thinking on strategising and games-playing.
There are others to whom one might wish to refer — Husserl or Nietzsche, for example — but perhaps it is best to stop the intellectual genealogy here, for the work of the man himself is, after all, what interests us. And how, before we start, is that work to be summarised? His own most recent characterisation is to describe his project as 'genetic structuralism',  the attempt to understand how Objective', supra-individual social reality cultural and institutional social structure and the internalised 'subjective' mental worlds of individuals as cultural beings and social actors are inextricably bound up together, each being a contributor to — and, indeed, an aspect of — the other.
This is Bourdieu' s place in the debate on structure and agency. Another way of looking at Bourdieu' s work is to return to his roots as a philosopher. Looked at from that perspective, his research activity is 'fieldwork in philosophy ', something to which I have already implicitly alluded earlier in this chapter. But perhaps the fairest way to conclude this section is to allow Bourdieu himself to tell us what it is that he is trying to understand: The object of social science is a reality that encompasses all the individual and collective struggles aimed at conserving or transforming reality, in particular those that seek to impose the legitimate definition of reality, whose specifically symbolic efficacy can help to conserve or subvert the established order, that is to say, reality.
Given his propensity to work and re-work themes in different empirical research contexts, and his enthusiasm for returning to earlier bodies A book for reading 9 of material in order to further his philosophical fieldwork of the moment, this involves doing a certain amount of violence to his intellectual career. It is to be hoped that the injuries thereby inflicted will only be minor.
Chapter Two focuses upon Bourdieu the social anthropologist and ethnographer and particularly upon his work among the Kabyle in Algeria. Here I will discuss in some detail the importance of structuralism in helping to develop his approach to culture. The subsequent chapter, largely concerned with epistemology and method, is also rooted in his experiences as an ethnographer, of his own and other societies. Epistemology — a critical concern with how and if it is possible to know the world and how one can justify any particular claim to knowledge — is a topic which many people find intimidating.
One of the objectives of this chapter will be to make it less so. The main topic will be Bourdieu' s view of the need for the social researcher to avoid a misleading reification or objectification of the social reality under study. This is to be achieved, he suggests, by means of an epistemological break, not only with that reality, but also with the research process which produces an account of that reality. Attention will be paid to the role of language use in this 'double distancing' later on, in Chapter Seven.
Chapter Four, on Bourdieu' s theories of social practice, perhaps the heart of his work, will argue that, despite his best efforts to transcend the dualistic divide between Objectivism' and 'subjectivism', his model of humanity, his philosophical anthropology, remains caught in an unresolved contradiction between determinism and voluntarism, with the balance of his argument favouring the former.
Chapter Five examines the application of this theoretical framework to the study of the French education system. Bourdieu' s reception by the Anglophone sociology of education will also be discussed. Culture and social hierarchy are the subject matter of Chapter Six. Culture, in Bourdieu' s model, is something over and with which status categories fight in the reproduction of the social pecking order.
This leads on, in the next chapter, to a discussion of language, power and social distinction, specifically the manner in which language is used by academics in their struggles for professional distinction. Part of this discussion will question the degree to which Bourdieu' s own use of language is occasioned by the complexity of the issues and topics with which he is dealing, or whether it should, in fact, be viewed as a dimension of the author's own struggle for cultural distinction within a specifically Parisian intellectual context.
Finally, in the concluding chapter, I will suggest some ways in which Bourdieu' s work can contribute to the further development of social theory and research strategies. Two other things ought to be said. First, I have no ambition here to even attempt to cover systematically the secondary literature on Bourdieu. There is no space and it has to some extent been done elsewhere. This is because my own French is sufficiently limited to make texts of the complexity of Bourdieu' s a nightmare to read; because the bulk of his important work is now available in translation; and because an undergraduate audience is unlikely to want to turn to the originals, whereas they might easily be persuaded, as a beginning, to make the effort with, say, Algeria or In Other Words.
The bibliography at the end includes a suggested reading plan for those who are sufficiently interested in Bourdieu' s work to get to grips with it at first hand. Although not an easy task, it should prove to be worthwhile, as the rest of this book will attempt to demonstrate. Bourdieu, Homo Academicus, Cambridge, Polity , p. Bourdieu, In Other Words: Robbins, The Work of Pierre Bourdieu: Wacquant, Towards a Reflexive Sociology: Bloch, Ritual, History and Power: Bourdieu, In Other Words, op.
Schwibs, 'The Struggle for Symbolic Order: Clark, Prophets and Patrons: Honneth et al, 'The Struggle for Symbolic Order', op. Hall, The Hinterland of Science: Hutchinson , p. A Review and an Interpretation', in J. Bourdieu, 'Vive la criseV , op. Bourdieu, 'Vive la criseV, op. Bourdieu, The Logic of Practice, op. Harker et al, An Introduction.
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Wacquant, 'Towards a Reflexive Sociology', op. Anthropology and structuralism 1 1 2 Anthropology and Structuralism Bourdieu arrived in Algeria in as a soldier and a philosopher; he left in as a self-taught ethnographer and social anthropologist. He had published his first book and undertaken, in person and using research assistants, field research among the Kabyle peasantry of the Mahgreb and among the urban poor in Algiers and elsewhere.
The body of data and ethnography thus accumulated was to provide him with enough material for a substantial body of published work over the subsequent decades. It is something to which, even yet, he still returns on occasions. As a body of work, however, much of it is not particularly germane to this discussion. Sociologie de L'Algerie,  in particular, the first book referred to above, is primarily a compendium of information about the various ethnic groups which constituted Algerian society in the s although towards the end he does begin to say some more interesting things about the effects of war and the nature of the Algerian revolution.
The two other collaborative early books on Algeria, about the Algerian working class, published in ,  and about the crisis in traditional Algerian agriculture, published a year later,  are, by and large, similarly prosaic. For much of their length they are almost irrel-evant to a consideration of the subsequent development of Bourdieu' s thinking. Algeria itself is not, however, irrelevant. As an initial experience of ethnographic fieldwork, it was clearly formative with respect to Bourdieu' s epistemological critique of the research process, something which will be discussed in detail in Chapter Three.
In this chapter, however, I intend to focus on two other aspects of Bourdieu' s Algerian studies which form part of the mainstream of his intellectual career: These are the subject matter of the first two sections of this chapter. Following this there will be a discussion of the continuing influence of structuralism on Bourdieu' s thought and, finally, I will talk briefly about his later ethnographic research among the Bearnais peasantry in France, paying particular attention to what he has described as the theoretical move from 'rules to strategies'.
It lies at the heart of his notion of genetic structuralism: In a well-known paper, first published in ,  Bourdieu discusses 'The attitude of the Algerian peasant towards time'. His starting point is that the notion of the future as a 'broad field of innumerable possibilities which man is able to explore and dominate'  is one which is alien to indigenous Algerian culture. To say this, however, is not to suggest that the fellaheen live in a present which is nothing more than immediacy, divorced from a future which is any further away than an easily imaginable tomorrow. Their experience of time, their conception of the future, is part and parcel of a total relation to the natural world, and particularly the productive earth, in which the Kabyle peasantry submit to, and are part of, the 'vagaries and vigours' of the land and the seasons: Submission to nature is inseparable from submission to the passage of time Time stretches out, given a rhythm by the round of work and holidays and by the succession of nights and days.
Time so marked is not, as has often been shown, measured time. The intervals of subjective experience are not equal and uniform. The 'forthcoming' is perceived in the same manner as the actual present to which it is tied by an organic unity. Potentialities, as distinct from possibilities, are not apprehended as arising from an infinite number of possibilities equally able to come about or not, but as being incapable of not coming about, since, as they are grasped, they are just as much present as the actual present, directly perceived.
The past, the present and the future form part of a continuing and Anthropology and structuralism 13 repetitive world of experience which is 'incapable of not coming about'.
The cycle of life is one of social reproduction in the continuous medium term. This is an understanding of the pre-capitalist experience of time which is familiar from the work of E. Inasmuch as the future is implicit in the past, time, in a sense, stands still. In another paper, published a year earlier,  Bourdieu considers those for whom the spell has been shattered, the Algerian sub-proletariat: The move from the country to the city also involves exchanging the relative and modest security of a peasant way of life in which there is a productive niche — of whatever kind — for everyone, for the impersonal arbitration of the labour market.
Work becomes employment, which is a scarce resource. For the first time, perhaps, it becomes really possible to have nothing to do. Not only does time spent consciously unemployed become time wasted, but it prevents rational calculation — the epitome of the capitalist world in which the migrant now exists — about the future. The result is 'an obsession with the morrow, a fascination with the immediate'. Because it is impossible not to take it as it is, the dream of escaping only means experiencing the weight of necessity more cruelly.
First published in French in , Algeria ,  and particularly the long essay entitled 'The Disenchantment of the World' which forms the greater part of the text, represents the apogee of Bourdieu' s exploration of this theme in the Algerian context, a reworking of earlier material from 's Travail et traveilleurs en Algerie.
The key idea is that there is an adjustment between the individual's hopes, aspirations, goals and expectations, on the one hand, and the objective situation in which they find themselves by virtue of their place in the social order, on the other. Realism about the future is engendered by the reality of the present: Outlooks on the future depend closely on the objective potentialities which are defined for each individual by his or her social status and material conditions of existence.
The most individual project is never anything other than an aspect of the subjective expectations that are attached to that agent's class. The greater the number of things which become or are possible, the more options which one is offered or confronted by, the closer the fit becomes between aspiration and likelihood.
As an individual rises up Pierre Bourdieu 14 the social hierarchy of status and class, so the vista of the realistically attainable deepens and widens, if only in small degree.
Choices and projects, conceived within and conditioned by an enhanced freedom of action, become evermore — and somewhat paradoxically perhaps — framed within a conservative opting for what can be done. A plateau of security is reached, where life ceases to be the desperate mere pursuit of subsistence, and the worker arrives at a 'threshold of calculability' beyond which his or her conduct becomes, in all spheres, even the domestic 'the site of the last resistances' , rationalised with respect to a more or less predictable future.
Their poverty 'imposes itself on them with a necessity so total that it allows them no glimpse of a reasonable exit'. In an analysis which bears more than a passing resemblance to Oscar Lewis's much-criticised notion of the 'culture of poverty',  Bourdieu argues that the sub-proletarian experience of economic insecurity and blocked employment opportunities — their objective probability — renders them incapable of imagining the possibility of social change.
Rather than blaming the 'objective order' for their disadvantage, they fall back on their own inadequacies as the explanation for their distress. This, once again, is the 'subjective expectation of objective probabilities'. It is not merely at the level of the individual that this process operates, however, and it is at the collective level that it acquires a major political significance.
Individuals may apprehend not only their personal future, but also the 'objective, collective future' of the social category to which they belong and the possibilities which it offers. For the reasons discussed immediately above it is the working proletariat, those who occupy a precarious plateau of economic security, not the sub-proletariat, who may begin to conceive of an alternative future, as a consequence of their Open and rational temporal consciousness'. Bourdieu' s argument at this point, concerning the revolutionary potential of the Algerian sub-proletariat or, more exactly, its absence , is explicitly intended by him as a refutation of the writings of Frantz Fanon on the Algerian revolution and 'third world' liberation struggles.
The effort to master the future cannot be undertaken in reality until the conditions indispensable for ensuring it a minimum chance of success are actually provided. Until this is the case, the only possible attitude is forced traditionalism, which differs essentially from adherence to tradition, because it implies the possibility of acting differently and the impossibility of enacting that possibility.
Bourdieu' s model of the relationship between 'subjective expectations' and 'objective probabilities' is vulnerable to a number of criticisms — of circularity, determinism and materialism, in particular — which will be explored in detail in Chapters Four and Five. Suffice it that the roots of the notion in his Algerian experience have been adequately established.
Anthropology and structuralism 15 His discussion of the 'disenchantment of the world' experienced by migrants from the Algerian countryside to the town closes with an analysis of modern housing as an impoverishing and, paradoxically, constraining domestic environment. It is a concrete representation of a future which cannot be, yet demands to be, achieved. It is to a more celebrated and widely read analysis of domestic space and architecture — 'The Kabyle house or the world reversed' — that our discussion will now turn.
To ask these questions, however, is easier than to answer them. There is, in an important sense, no such thing as 'structuralism'. There are, rather, a variety of structuralist approaches to culture and social reality : Piaget, Levi- Strauss, Althusser, Chomsky, Foucault and Leach — not to mention Bourdieu himself — have all been described, by themselves or others, at some time or another, as 'structuralists'. The intellectual thread which may serve to unite this disparate ensemble goes back to the work of the Swiss linguist Saussure in the early years of the twentieth century.
For our purposes, two aspects of Saussure' s work are important. First, his distinction between the grammatical or logical structure of language langue and the everyday, improvisational hurly-burly of speech parole , together with his insistence that the former is the appropriate domain for the location and analysis of meaning, laid the foundation for the structuralist method: Second, he argued that aspects of culture or social life other than language could also be treated as systems for the signification of meaning, each with an appropriate structure or structures to be revealed or deciphered.
With respect to the first of these, Saussure clearly stands in a broad epistemological tradition of realism — including such diverse thinkers as Marx and Freud — which starts off from the position that things social are rarely, if ever, as they seem. Their reality or essence must be discovered beneath the surface world of what people do and say in social interaction. In the second, Saussure was establishing the basis for a burgeoning new tradition of cultural analysis, a tradition in which universes of meaning could be discovered everywhere from dining-table place settings to wrestling matches.
The mundane world becomes transformed into a pregnant network of signification and communication, awaiting only the midwife's touch of the analyst for the message s to be delivered. Linguistics also supplied the other important component of structuralism, in the ideas of Jakobson from the s and s.
Meaning, for Jakobson as for Saussure, is arbitrary and socially denned: He is framed as being completely inaccessible as a writer and whose ideas are trite, hackneyed or plagiarised from just about everyone else — including the Structuralists, Marxists, Weber and Durkheim. I think Bourdieu should have been offered the right of reply. I read this book for an introduction to BOURDIEU, as bizarre a notion as that may seem — not the destruction of Bourdieu's ideas by some two bit academic whose only claim to fame is that he wrote this nasty little book.
There really is something about fleas complaining about the dogs they are sucking the blood out of. That this needs said really says something very disheartening about our intellectual traditions. Now, something I did get out of this book. I can be quite thick at times — this book mentions that structuralism is based on the idea of finding binaries: But do you think I noticed on my own?
More of this would have been greatly appreciated. This could have been so much better. In fact, this should have been. View all 5 comments. Sep 10, Vikas Lather rated it it was amazing Shelves: Critical and charming analysis of Bourdieu. It has managed to rescue important aspects from his language, which is unnecessarily complex, obscure and filled with philosophical jargons. Definitely, one of the most useful short introductions to social theory. Jul 27, Denis rated it did not like it. A good summary and but a sad critique. In overturning structuralism, the author usefully compares Bourdieu to Marx, but then misunderstands Bourdieu in the same way that many misunderstand Marx.
He sees key concepts, like reflexivity and "objectification of objectification" but fails to apply them within his own critique. The value in the book arises out of seeing how the author gets it wrong, in doing so vindicating Bourdieu's methodology and process. Apr 15, Christoph rated it liked it Shelves: Due to its brevity, it unfortunately doesn't do the overview nor the criticism justice.
Still, I can recommend the book as an introduction to Pierre Bourdieu's sociology. Jul 27, Mike rated it really liked it. This is the best introduction to Bourdieu available; it covers his major contributions though not much on his political economy, which gets ignored in the US in clear, concise prose. Read before jumping into the deep end.
Keith rated it it was amazing Aug 17, For Bourdieu, formal education represents the key example of this process. Educational success, according to Bourdieu, entails a whole range of cultural behaviour, extending to ostensibly non-academic features like gait , dress, or accent. Privileged children have learned this behaviour, as have their teachers. Children of unprivileged backgrounds have not.
The children of privilege therefore fit the pattern of their teachers' expectations with apparent 'ease'; they are 'docile'. The unprivileged are found to be 'difficult', to present 'challenges'. Yet both behave as their upbringing dictates. Bourdieu regards this 'ease', or 'natural' ability—distinction—as in fact the product of a great social labour, largely on the part of the parents.
It equips their children with the dispositions of manner as well as thought which ensure they are able to succeed within the educational system and can then reproduce their parents' class position in the wider social system. Cultural capital refers to assets, e. For example, working class children can come to see the educational success of their middle-class peers as always legitimate, seeing what is often class-based inequality as instead the result of hard work or even 'natural' ability. A key part of this process is the transformation of people's symbolic or economic inheritance e.
Bourdieu argues that cultural capital has developed in opposition to economic capital. Moreover, the conflict between those who mostly hold cultural capital and those who mostly hold economic capital finds expression in the opposed social fields of art and business. The field of art and related cultural fields are seen to have striven historically for autonomy, which in different times and places has been more or less achieved.
The autonomous field of art is summed up as "an economic world turned upside down,"  highlighting the opposition between economic and cultural capital. For Bourdieu, "social capital is the sum of the resources, actual or virtual, that accrue to an individual or a group by virtue of possessing a durable network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognition. For some families, cultural capital is accumulated over a period of generations as they adopt cultural investment strategies and pass them on to their children. This gives children an opportunity to realize their potential through education and they pass on those same values to their children.
Over time, individuals in such families gain cultural currency which gives them an inherent advantage over other groups of people, which is why there is such variation in academic achievement in children of different social classes. Having such cultural currency enables people to compensate for a lack of financial capital by giving them a certain level of respect and status in society.
Bourdieu believes that cultural capital may play a role when individuals pursue power and status in society through politics or other means. Social and cultural capital along with economic capital contribute to the inequality we see in the world, according to Bourdieu's argument. Bourdieu insists on the importance of a reflexive sociology in which sociologists must at all times conduct their research with conscious attention to the effects of their own position, their own set of internalized structures, and how these are likely to distort or prejudice their objectivity.
The sociologist, according to Bourdieu, must engage in a "sociology of sociology" so as not to unwittingly attribute to the object of observation the characteristics of the subject. It is only by maintaining such a continual vigilance that the sociologists can spot themselves in the act of importing their own biases into their work. Reflexivity is, therefore, a kind of additional stage in the scientific epistemology. It is not enough for the scientist to go through the usual stages research, hypothesis, falsification, experiment, repetition, peer review, etc.
In a good illustration of the process, Bourdieu chastises academics including himself for judging their students' work against a rigidly scholastic linguistic register, favouring students whose writing appears 'polished', marking down those guilty of 'vulgarity'. Reflexivity should enable the academic to be conscious of their prejudices, e. Bourdieu also describes how the "scholastic point of view"  unconsciously alters how scientists approach their objects of study.
Because of the systematicity of their training and their mode of analysis, they tend to exaggerate the systematicity of the things they study. This inclines them to see agents following clear rules where in fact they use less determinate strategies; it makes it hard to theorise the 'fuzzy' logic of the social world, its practical and therefore mutable nature, poorly described by words like 'system', 'structure' and 'logic' which imply mechanisms, rigidity and omnipresence. The scholar can too easily find themselves mistaking "the things of logic for the logic of things" — a phrase of Marx's which Bourdieu is fond of quoting.
Bourdieu contended there is transcendental objectivity, only when certain necessary historical conditions are met. The scientific field is precisely that field in which objectivity may be acquired. Bourdieu's ideal scientific field is one that grants its participants an interest or investment in objectivity. Further, this ideal scientific field is one in which the field's degree of autonomy advances and, in a corresponding process, its "entrance fee" becomes increasingly strict.
The scientific field entails rigorous intersubjective scrutinizing of theory and data. However, the autonomy of the scientific field cannot be taken for granted. An important part of Bourdieu's theory is that the historical development of a scientific field, sufficiently autonomous to be described as such and to produce objective work, is an achievement that requires continual reproduction. Bourdieu does not discount the possibility that the scientific field may lose its autonomy and therefore deteriorate, losing its defining characteristic as a producer of objective work.
In this way, the conditions of possibility for the production of transcendental objectivity could arise and then disappear. Bourdieu takes language to be not merely a method of communication, but also a mechanism of power. The language one uses is designated by one's relational position in a field or social space.
Different uses of language tend to reiterate the respective positions of each participant. Linguistic interactions are manifestations of the participants' respective positions in social space and categories of understanding, and thus tend to reproduce the objective structures of the social field. This determines who has a "right" to be listened to, to interrupt, to ask questions, and to lecture, and to what degree. The representation of identity in forms of language can be subdivided into language, dialect, and accent. For example, the use of different dialects in an area can represent a varied social status for individuals.
A good example of this would be in the case of French. Until the French Revolution, the difference of dialects usage directly reflected ones social status. Peasants and lower class members spoke local dialects, while only nobles and higher class members were fluent with the official French language. Accents can reflect an area's inner conflict with classifications and authority within a population. The reason language acts as a mechanism of power is through forms of mental representations it is acknowledged and noticed as objective representations: These signs and symbols therefore transform language into an agency of power.
Bourdieu "was, for many, the leading intellectual of present-day France They have also been used in pedagogy. A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste La Distinction was named as one of the 20th century's ten most important works of sociology by the International Sociological Association. In France, Bourdieu was seen not as an ivory tower academic or "cloistered don" but as a passionate activist for those he believed to be subordinated by society.
In , a documentary film about Bourdieu — Sociology is a Martial Art — "became an unexpected hit in Paris. For Bourdieu, sociology was a combative effort, exposing the un-thought structures beneath the physical somatic and thought practices of social agents. He saw sociology as a means of confronting symbolic violence and exposing those unseen areas where one could be free. Bourdieu's work continues to be influential. His work is widely cited, and many sociologists and other social scientists work explicitly in a Bourdieusian framework.
Bourdieu also played a crucial role in the popularisation of correspondence analysis and particularly multiple correspondence analysis. Bourdieu held that these geometric techniques of data analysis are, like his sociology, inherently relational. It is a procedure that 'thinks' in relations, as I try to do it with the concept of field," Bourdieu said, in the preface to The Craft of Sociology.
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The Case of the Anglican Communion'. Journal of Contemporary Religion, vol 26, no. Archived from the original PDF on An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology. Univ of Chicago Press. Outline of a Theory of Practice. Cambridge and New York: Against the Tyranny of the Market"; Bourdieu, Pierre.