Bourdieu in 1969
1 August 1930
|Died||23 January 2002 71) (aged|
|Alma mater||École normale supérieure, University of Paris|
|School||Structuralism · Genetic structuralism · Critical sociology|
|Institutions||École pratique des hautes études (before 1975) · École des hautes études en sciences sociales (after 1975) · Collège de France|
|Sociology · Power|
|Cultural capital · Field · Habitus · Doxa · Social Illusion · Reflexivity · Social capital · Symbolic capital · Symbolic violence · Practice theory|
|Subfields and other major theories|
Pierre Bourdieu (French: [buʁdjø] ; 1 August 1930 – 23 January 2002) was a French sociologist, anthropologist, philosopher and public intellectual.
Sociology is the study of society, patterns of social relationships, social interaction and culture of everyday life. It is a social science that uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about social order, acceptance, and change or social evolution. While some sociologists conduct research that may be applied directly to social policy and welfare, others focus primarily on refining the theoretical understanding of social processes. Subject matter ranges from the micro-sociology level of individual agency and interaction to the macro level of systems and the social structure.
Anthropology is the scientific study of humans and human behavior and societies in the past and present. Social anthropology and cultural anthropology study the norms and values of societies. Linguistic anthropology studies how language affects social life. Biological or physical anthropology studies the biological development of humans.
A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term "philosopher" comes from the Ancient Greek, φιλόσοφος (philosophos), meaning "lover of wisdom". The coining of the term has been attributed to the Greek thinker Pythagoras.
Bourdieu's work was primarily concerned with the dynamics of power in society, especially the diverse and subtle ways in which power is transferred and social order is maintained within and across generations. In conscious opposition to the idealist tradition of much of Western philosophy, his work often emphasized the corporeal nature of social life and stressed the role of practice and embodiment in social dynamics. Building upon the theories of Martin Heidegger, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Edmund Husserl, Georges Canguilhem, Karl Marx, Gaston Bachelard, Max Weber, Émile Durkheim, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Erwin Panofsky and Marcel Mauss among others, his research pioneered novel investigative frameworks and methods, and introduced such influential concepts as cultural, social, and symbolic forms of capital (as opposed to traditional economic forms of capital), the cultural reproduction, the habitus, the field or location, and symbolic violence. Another notable influence on Bourdieu was Blaise Pascal, after whom Bourdieu titled his Pascalian Meditations. Bourdieu's major contributions to the sociology of education, the theory of sociology, and sociology of aesthetics have achieved wide influence in several related academic fields (e.g. anthropology, media and cultural studies, education), popular culture, and the arts.
Martin Heidegger was a German philosopher and a seminal thinker in the Continental tradition and philosophical hermeneutics, and is "widely acknowledged to be one of the most original and important philosophers of the 20th century." Heidegger is best known for his contributions to phenomenology and existentialism, though as the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy cautions, "his thinking should be identified as part of such philosophical movements only with extreme care and qualification". Heidegger was a member and public supporter of the Nazi Party. There is controversy over the degree to which his Nazi affiliations influenced his philosophy.
Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein was an Austrian philosopher who worked primarily in logic, the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of language.
Maurice Jean Jacques Merleau-Ponty was a French phenomenological philosopher, strongly influenced by Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger. The constitution of meaning in human experience was his main interest and he wrote on perception, art, and politics. He was on the editorial board of Les Temps modernes, the leftist magazine established by Jean-Paul Sartre in 1945.
Bourdieu's best known book is Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste (1979). The book was judged the sixth most important sociological work of the twentieth century by the International Sociological Association.In it, Bourdieu argues that judgments of taste are related to social position, or more precisely, are themselves acts of social positioning. His argument is put forward by an original combination of social theory and data from quantitative surveys, photographs and interviews, in an attempt to reconcile difficulties such as how to understand the subject within objective structures. In the process, he tried to reconcile the influences of both external social structures and subjective experience on the individual (see structure and agency).
In the social sciences there is a standing debate over the primacy of structure or agency in shaping human behaviour. Structure is the recurrent patterned arrangements which influence or limit the choices and opportunities available. Agency is the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices. The structure versus agency debate may be understood as an issue of socialization against autonomy in determining whether an individual acts as a free agent or in a manner dictated by social structure.
Bourdieu was born in Denguin (Pyrénées-Atlantiques), in southern France, to a postal worker and his wife. The household spoke Béarnese, a Gascon dialect. Bourdieu married Marie-Claire Brizard in 1962; the couple had three sons, Jérôme, Emmanuel, and Laurent.
Denguin is a commune in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department in south-western France.
Pyrénées-Atlantiques is a department in the region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine, in southwestern France. It takes its name from the Pyrenees mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. It covers the French Basque Country and the Béarn.
Béarnese is a dialect of Gascon spoken in Béarn. As a written language, it benefited from the fact that Béarn was an independent state from the mid-14th century to 1620. Béarnese was used in legal and administrative documents long after most other Gascon provinces were incorporated into France..
Bourdieu was educated at the lycée in Pau before moving to the Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris. From there he gained entrance to the École Normale Supérieure (ENS), also in Paris, where he studied philosophy alongside Louis Althusser. After getting his agrégation, Bourdieu worked as a lycée teacher at Moulins for a year before his conscription into the French Army in 1955.
Pau is a commune on the northern edge of the Pyrenees, and capital of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques Département in the region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France.
The Lycée Louis-le-Grand is a prestigious secondary school located in Paris. Founded in 1563 by the Jesuits as the Collège de Clermont, it was renamed in King Louis XIV of France's honor after he extended his direct patronage to it in 1682. It offers both a sixth-form college curriculum, and a post-secondary-level curriculum, preparing students for entrance to the elite Grandes écoles for research, such as the École normale supérieure (Paris), for engineering, such as the École Polytechnique, or for business, such as HEC Paris. Students at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand are called magnoludoviciens.
Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, as well as the arts. The City of Paris is the centre and seat of government of the Île-de-France, or Paris Region, which has an estimated official 2019 population of 12,213,364, or about 18 percent of the population of France. The Paris Region had a GDP of €709 billion in 2017. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit Worldwide Cost of Living Survey in 2018, Paris was the second most expensive city in the world, after Singapore, and ahead of Zurich, Hong Kong, Oslo and Geneva. Another source ranked Paris as most expensive, on a par with Singapore and Hong Kong, in 2018. The city is a major railway, highway, and air-transport hub served by two international airports: Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Paris-Orly. Opened in 1900, the city's subway system, the Paris Métro, serves 5.23 million passengers daily, and is the second busiest metro system in Europe after Moscow Metro. Gare du Nord is the 24th busiest railway station in the world, but the first located outside Japan, with 262 million passengers in 2015.
His biographers write that he chose not to enter the Reserve Officer's College like many of his fellow ENS graduates as he wished to stay with people from his own modest social background.Deployed to Algeria in October 1955 during its war of independence from France, he served in a unit guarding military installations before being transferred to clerical work.
The Algerian War, also known as the Algerian War of Independence or the Algerian Revolution was fought between France and the Algerian National Liberation Front from 1954 to 1962, which led to Algeria gaining its independence from France. An important decolonization war, it was a complex conflict characterized by guerrilla warfare, maquis fighting, and the use of torture. The conflict also became a civil war between the different communities and within the communities. The war took place mainly on the territory of Algeria, with repercussions in metropolitan France.
A clerk is a white-collar worker who conducts general office tasks, or a worker who performs similar sales-related tasks in a retail environment. The responsibilities of clerical workers commonly include record keeping, filing, staffing service counters, screening solicitors, and other administrative tasks.
After his year-long military service, Bourdieu stayed on as a lecturer in Algiers.During the Algerian War in 1958–1962, Bourdieu undertook ethnographic research into the clash through a study of the Kabyle peoples of the Berbers, laying the groundwork for his anthropological reputation. The result was his first book, Sociologie de l'Algérie (The Sociology of Algeria, 1958), which became an immediate success in France and was published in America in 1962. He later drew heavily on this fieldwork in his 1972 book Outline of a Theory of Practice, a strong intervention into anthropological theory.
In 1960 Bourdieu returned to the University of Paris before gaining a teaching position at the University of Lille, where he remained until 1964. From 1964 onwards Bourdieu held the position of Professor (Directeur d'études) in the VIe section of the École Pratique des Hautes Études (the future École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales), and from 1981 the Chair of Sociology at the Collège de France (held before him by Raymond Aron and Maurice Halbwachs). In 1968, Bourdieu took over the Centre de Sociologie Européenne, founded by Aron, which he directed until his death.
In 1975, with the research group he had formed at the Centre de Sociologie Européenne, he launched the interdisciplinary journal Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales , with which he sought to transform the accepted canons of sociological production while buttressing the scientific rigor of sociology. In 1993 he was honored with the "Médaille d'or du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique" (CNRS). In 1996 he received the Goffman Prize from the University of California, Berkeley and in 2001 the Huxley Medal of the Royal Anthropological Institute.Bourdieu died of cancer at the age of 71.
Bourdieu's work is influenced by much of traditional anthropology and sociology which he undertook to synthesize into his own theory. From Max Weber he retained the importance of domination and symbolic systems in social life, as well as the idea of social orders which would ultimately be transformed by Bourdieu from a sociology of religion into a theory of fields.
From Marx he gained his understanding of 'society' as the ensemble of social relationships: "what exist in the social world are relations – not interactions between agents or intersubjective ties between individuals, but objective relations which exist 'independently of individual consciousness and will'."(grounded in the mode and conditions of economic production), and of the need to dialectically develop social theory from social practice. (Arnold Hauser earlier published the orthodox application of Marxist class theory to the fine arts in The Social History of Art (1951).)
From Émile Durkheim, through Marcel Mauss and Claude Lévi-Strauss, Bourdieu inherited a certain structuralist interpretation of the tendency of social structures to reproduce themselves, based on the analysis of symbolic structures and forms of classification. However, Bourdieu critically diverged from Durkheim in emphasizing the role of the social agent in enacting, through the embodiment of social structures, symbolic orders. He furthermore emphasized that the reproduction of social structures does not operate according to a functionalist logic.
Maurice Merleau-Ponty and, through him, the phenomenology of Edmund Husserl played an essential part in the formulation of Bourdieu's focus on the body, action, and practical dispositions (which found their primary manifestation in Bourdieu's theory of habitus).
Bourdieu was also influenced by Wittgenstein (especially with regard to his work on rule-following) stating that "Wittgenstein is probably the philosopher who has helped me most at moments of difficulty. He's a kind of saviour for times of great intellectual distress".
Bourdieu's work is built upon an attempt to transcend a series of oppositions which he thought characterized the social sciences (subjectivism/objectivism, micro/macro, freedom/determinism) of his time. His concepts of habitus, capital, and field were conceived with the intention of overcoming such oppositions.
During the 1990s Bourdieu became more and more involved in political debate, becoming one of the most important public faces of intellectual life in France. While a fierce critic of neoliberalism, Bourdieu was also critical of the "total intellectual" role played by Sartre, and he dismissed Sartre's attempts to intervene in French politics as "irresponsible" and "opportunistic." [ citation needed ]. There is an apparent contradiction between Bourdieu's earlier writings against using sociology for political activism and his later launch into the role of a public intellectual, with some highly "visible political statements". Although much of his early work stressed the importance of treating sociology as a strict scientific discipline [ dubious ] (« La sociologie est un sport de combat » — "Sociology is a martial art"), his later career saw him enter the less academic world of political debate in France, raising the issue of whether the sociologist has political responsibilities extending to the public domain.Bourdieu saw sociology not as a form of "intellectual entertainment" but as a serious discipline of a scientific nature
Although Bourdieu earlier faulted public intellectuals such as Sartre, he had strong political views which influenced his sociology from the beginning. By the time of his later work his main concern had become the effect of globalisation and those who benefited least from it. His politics then became more overt and his role as public intellectual was born, from an "urgency to speak out against neoliberal discourse that had become so dominant within political debate."Bourdieu developed a project to investigate the effects — particularly the harm — of neoliberal reforms in France. The most significant fruit of this project was the 1993 study 'The Weight of the World,' although his views are perhaps more candidly expressed in his articles. 'The Weight of the World' represented a heavyweight scientific challenge to the dominant trends in French politics. Since it was the work of a team of sociologists, it also shows Bourdieu's collaborative character, indicating that he was still in 1993 reluctant to accept being singled out with the category (he deplored the term 'role' ) of public intellectual. Nevertheless, Bourdieu's activities as a critical sociologist prepared him for the public stage, fulfilling his "constructionist view of social life" as it relied upon the idea of social actors making change through collective struggles. His relationship with the media was improved through his very public action of organizing strikes and rallies that raised huge media interest in him and his many books became more popular through this new notoriety. One of the main differences between the critical sociologist and public intellectual is the ability to have a relationship with popular media resources outside the academic realm. It is notable that in his later writings Bourdieu sounded cautionary notes about such individuals, describing them as "like the Trojan Horse " for the unwanted elements they may bring to the academic world. Again Bourdieu seems wary of accepting the description 'public intellectual,' worrying that it might be difficult to reconcile with science and scholarship. Research is needed on what conditions transform particular intellectuals into public intellectuals.
Bourdieu routinely sought to connect his theoretical ideas with empirical research and his work can be seen as sociology of culture or, as he described it, a "Theory of Practice". His contributions to sociology were both evidential and theoretical (that is, calculated through both systems). His key terms were habitus, capital and field.
He extended the idea of capital to categories such as social capital, cultural capital, financial capital, and symbolic capital. For Bourdieu each individual occupies a position in a multidimensional social space; a person is not defined only by social class membership, but by every single kind of capital they can articulate through social relations. That capital includes the value of social networks, which Bourdieu showed could be used to produce or reproduce inequality.
Ultimately, each relatively autonomous field of modern life, such as economy, politics, arts, journalism, bureaucracy, science or education engenders a specific complex of social relations where the agents will engage their everyday practice. Through this practice, they develop a certain disposition for social action that is conditioned by their position on the field (dominant/dominated and orthodox/heterodox are only two possible ways of positioning the agents on the field; these basic binary distinctions are always further analysed considering the specificities of each field). This disposition, combined with every other disposition the individual develops through his engagement with other fields operating within the social world, will eventually come to constitute a system of dispositions, known in Bourdieu's lexicon as a habitus. Dispositions - a key concept in Bourdieu's work - can be conceived as a sense of the game, a partly rational but partly intuitive understanding of fields and of social order in general, a practical sense, a practical reason, giving rise to opinions, tastes, tone of voice, typical body movements and mannerisms and so on. The dispositions constitutive of habitus are therefore conditioned responses to the social world, becoming so ingrained that they come to occur spontaneously, rather like 'kneejerk' opinions. It follows that the habitus developed by an individual will typify his position in the social space. By doing so, social agents will often acknowledge, legitimate and reproduce the social forms of domination (including prejudices) and the common opinions of each field as self-evident, clouding from conscience and practice even the acknowledgment of other possible means of production (including symbolic production) and power relations.
Though not deterministic, the inculcation of the subjective structures of the habitus can be observed through statistical data, for example, while its selective affinity with the objective structures of the social world explains the continuity of the social order through time. As the individual habitus is always a mix of multiple engagements in the social world through the person's life, while the social fields are put into practice through the agency of the individuals, no social field or order can be completely stable. In other words, if the relation between individual predisposition and social structure is far stronger than common sense tends to believe, it is not a perfect match.
Some examples of his empirical results include showing that, despite the apparent freedom of choice in the arts, people's artistic preferences (such as classical music, rock, traditional music) strongly tie in with their social position; and showing that subtleties of language such as accent, grammar, spelling and style – all part of cultural capital – are a major factor in social mobility (for example, getting a higher-paid, higher-status job).
Pierre Bourdieu's work emphasized how social classes, especially the ruling and intellectual classes, preserve their social privileges across generations despite the myth that contemporary post-industrial society boasts equality of opportunity and high social mobility, achieved through formal education.
Bourdieu was an extraordinarily prolific author, producing hundreds of articles and three dozen books, nearly all of which are now available in English.
Bourdieu developed theories of social stratification based on aesthetic taste in his 1979 work Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste (in French, La Distinction ), published by Harvard University Press. Bourdieu claims that how one chooses to present one's social space to the world — one's aesthetic dispositions — depicts one's status and distances oneself from lower groups. Specifically, Bourdieu hypothesizes that children internalize these dispositions at an early age and that such dispositions guide the young towards their appropriate social positions, towards the behaviors that are suitable for them, and foster an aversion towards other behaviors.
Bourdieu theorizes that class fractions teach aesthetic preferences to their young. Class fractions are determined by a combination of the varying degrees of social, economic, and cultural capital. Society incorporates “symbolic goods, especially those regarded as the attributes of excellence, [...as] the ideal weapon in strategies of distinction.”Those attributes deemed excellent are shaped by the interests of the dominating class. He emphasizes the dominance of cultural capital early on by stating that “differences in cultural capital mark the differences between the classes.”
The development of aesthetic dispositions are very largely determined by social origin rather than accumulated capital and experience over time. The acquisition of cultural capital depends heavily on “total, early, imperceptible learning, performed within the family from the earliest days of life.”Bourdieu argues that, in the main, people inherit their cultural attitudes, the accepted “definitions that their elders offer them.”
He asserts the primacy of social origin and cultural capital by claiming that social capital and economic capital, though acquired cumulatively over time, depend upon it. Bourdieu claims that “one has to take account of all the characteristics of social condition which are (statistically) associated from earliest childhood with possession of high or low income and which tend to shape tastes adjusted to these conditions.”
According to Bourdieu, tastes in food, culture and presentation are indicators of class because trends in their consumption seemingly correlate with an individual's fit in society.Each fraction of the dominant class develops its own aesthetic criteria. A multitude of consumer interests based on differing social positions necessitates that each fraction “has its own artists and philosophers, newspapers and critics, just as it has its hairdresser, interior decorator, or tailor.”
However, Bourdieu does not disregard the importance of social capital and economic capital in the formation of cultural capital. For example, the production of art and the ability to play an instrument “presuppose not only dispositions associated with long establishment in the world of art and culture but also economic means...and spare time.”However, regardless of one's ability to act upon one's preferences, Bourdieu specifies that “respondents are only required to express a status-induced familiarity with legitimate...culture.”
“[Taste] functions as a sort of social orientation, a ‘sense of one’s place,’ guiding the occupants of a given...social space towards the social positions adjusted to their properties, and towards the practices or goods which befit the occupants of that position.”Thus, different modes of acquisition yield differences in the nature of preferences.
These “cognitive structures...are internalized, ‘embodied’ social structures,” becoming a natural entity to the individual (Bourdieu 468). Different tastes are thus seen as unnatural and rejected, resulting in “disgust provoked by horror or visceral intolerance (‘feeling sick’) of the tastes of others.”
Bourdieu himself believes class distinction and preferences are “most marked in the ordinary choices of everyday existence, such as furniture, clothing, or cooking, which are particularly revealing of deep-rooted and long-standing dispositions because, lying outside the scope of the educational system, they have to be confronted, as it were, by naked taste.”Indeed, Bourdieu believes that “the strongest and most indelible mark of infant learning” would probably be in the tastes of food. Bourdieu thinks that meals served on special occasions are “an interesting indicator of the mode of self-presentation adopted in ‘showing off’ a life-style (in which furniture also plays a part).” The idea is that their likes and dislikes should mirror those of their associated class fractions.
Children from the lower end of the social hierarchy are predicted to choose “heavy, fatty fattening foods, which are also cheap” in their dinner layouts, opting for “plentiful and good” meals as opposed to foods that are “original and exotic.”These potential outcomes would reinforce Bourdieu's “ethic of sobriety for the sake of slimness, which is most recognized at the highest levels of the social hierarchy,” that contrasts the “convivial indulgence” characteristic of the lower classes. Demonstrations of the tastes of luxury (or freedom) and the tastes of necessity reveal a distinction among the social classes.
The degree to which social origin affects these preferences surpasses both educational and economic capital. Demonstrably, at equivalent levels of educational capital, social origin remains an influential factor in determining these dispositions.How one describes one's social environment relates closely to social origin because the instinctive narrative springs from early stages of development. Also, across the divisions of labor, “economic constraints tend to relax without any fundamental change in the pattern of spending.” This observation reinforces the idea that social origin, more than economic capital, produces aesthetic preferences because regardless of economic capability, consumption patterns remain stable.
Bourdieu's sociological work emphasizes the importance of practices in the social world. Bourdieu was opposed to the intellectualist tradition and stressed that social domination and cultural reproduction were primarily focused on bodily know-how and competent practices in the society. Bourdieu fiercely opposed Rational Choice Theory because he believed it was a misunderstanding of how social agents operate. According to Bourdieu agents do not continuously calculate according to explicit rational and economic criteria. Rather, social agents operate according to an implicit practical logic—a practical sense—and bodily dispositions. Social agents act according to their "feel for the game" (the "feel" being, roughly, habitus, and the "game" being the field).
Bourdieu's anthropological work was dominated by social hierarchy reproduction analysis. Bourdieu criticized the importance given to economic factors in the analysis of social order and change. He stressed that the capacity of actors to impose their cultural reproductions and symbolic systems plays an essential role in the reproduction of dominate social structures. Symbolic violence is the self-interested capacity to ensure that the arbitrariness of the social order is either ignored, or argued as natural, thereby justifying the legitimacy of existing social structures. This concept plays an essential part in his sociological analysis.
For Bourdieu, the social world has gradually divided into what he calls fields . For him, social activity differences led to various, relatively autonomous, social spaces in which competition centers around particular capital. These fields are treated on a hierarchical basis—with economic power usually governing—wherein the dynamics of fields arise out of the struggle of social actors trying to occupy the dominant positions within the field. Bourdieu embraces prime elements of conflict theory like Marx. Social struggle also occurs within fields hierarchically nested under the economic antagonisms between social classes. The conflicts which take place in each social field have specific characteristics arising from those fields and that involve many social relationships which are not economic.
Pierre Bourdieu developed a theory of the action, around the concept of habitus, which exerted a considerable influence in the social sciences. This theory seeks to show that social agents develop strategies which are adapted to the needs of the social worlds that they inhabit. These strategies are unconscious and act on the level of a bodily logic.
Bourdieu's most significant work on cultural production is available in two books: The Field of Cultural Production (1993) and The Rules of Art (1996).
Bourdieu builds his theory of cultural production using his own characteristic theoretical vocabulary of habitus, capital and field.
David Hesmondhalgh writes that “by ‘Cultural production’ Bourdieu intends a very broad understanding of culture, in line with the tradition of classical sociology, including science (which in turn includes social science), law and religion, as well as expressive-aesthetic activities such as art, literature and music. However, his work on cultural production focuses overwhelmingly on two types of field or sub-field of cultural production (...): literature and art.”
According to Pierre Bourdieu “the principal obstacle to a rigorous science of the production of the value of cultural goods” is the “charismatic ideology of ‘creation’ “ which can be easily found in studies of art, literature and other cultural fields. In Bourdieu’s opinion charismatic ideology ‘directs the gaze towards the apparent producer and prevents us from asking who has created this “creator” and the magic power of transubstantiation with which the “creator” is endowed’.
For Bourdieu, a sociologically informed view of an artist ought to describe their influences, antagonisms, etc., i.e. their relations to the field of production; and also should describe their attitudes to their readers, enthusiasts or detractors, i.e. their relations to the field of consumption. Further, a work of literature, for example, may not adequately be analysed either as the product of the author's life and beliefs (a naively biographical account), or without any reference to the author's intentions (as Barthes argued). In short, "the subject of a work is a habitus in relationship with a 'post', a position, that is, within a field."
According to Bourdieu, cultural revolutions are always dependent on the possibilities present in the positions inscribed in the field.
This section needs additional citations for verification . (August 2007) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
This section relies too much on references to primary sources . (August 2007) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
A field is a setting in which agents and their social positions are located. The position of each particular agent in the field is a result of interaction between the specific rules of the field, agent's habitus and agent's capital (social, economic and cultural).Fields interact with each other, and are hierarchical: Most are subordinate to the larger field of power and class relations.
Instead of confining his analysis of social relations and change to voluntaristic agency or strictly in terms of class as a structural relation, Bourdieu uses the agency-structure bridging concept of field: any historical, non-homogeneous social-spatial arena in which people maneuver and struggle in pursuit of desirable resources. Much of Bourdieu's work observes the semi-independent role of educational and cultural resources in the expression of agency. This makes his work amenable to liberal-conservative scholarship positing the fundamental cleavages of society as amongst disorderly factions of the working class, in need of disciplinary intervention where they have assumed excessive privilege. Unsurprisingly given his historical and biographical location, however, Bourdieu was in practice both influenced by and sympathetic to the Marxist identification of economic command as a principal component of power and agency within capitalist society,in contrast to some of his followers or the influential sociologist Max Weber.
Bourdieu's concept of habitus was inspired by Marcel Mauss's notion of body technique and hexis. The word itself can be found in the works of Norbert Elias, Max Weber, Edmund Husserl and Erwin Panofsky as re-workings of the concept as it emerged in Aristotle's notion of Hexis.For Bourdieu, habitus was essential in resolving a prominent antinomy of the human sciences: objectivism and subjectivism. Habitus can be defined as a system of dispositions (lasting, acquired schemes of perception, thought and action).
The individual agent develops these dispositions in response to the objective conditions it encounters. In this way Bourdieu theorizes the inculcation of objective social structures into the subjective, mental experience of agents. For the objective social field places requirements on its participants for membership, so to speak, within the field. Having thereby absorbed objective social structure into a personal set of cognitive and somatic dispositions, and the subjective structures of action of the agent then being commensurate with the objective structures and extant exigencies of the social field, a doxic relationship emerges.
Habitus is somewhat reminiscent of preexisting sociological concepts such as socialization, but habitus also differs from the more classic concepts in several important ways. Firstly, a central aspect of the habitus is its embodiment: Habitus does not only, or even primarily, function at the level of explicit, discursive consciousness. The internal structures become embodied and work in a deeper, practical and often pre-reflexive way. An illustrative example might be the 'muscle memory' cultivated in many areas of physical education. Consider the way we catch a ball - the complex geometric trajectories are not calculated; it is not an intellectual process. Although it is a skill that requires learning, it is more a physical than a mental process and has to be performed physically to be learned. In this sense, the concept has something in common with Anthony Giddens' concept of practical consciousness.
Doxa refers to the learned, fundamental, deep-founded, unconscious beliefs, and values, taken as self-evident universals, that inform an agent's actions and thoughts within a particular field. Doxa tends to favor the particular social arrangement of the field, thus privileging the dominant and taking their position of dominance as self-evident and universally favorable. Therefore, the categories of understanding and perception that constitute a habitus, being congruous with the objective organization of the field, tend to reproduce the very structures of the field. A doxic situation may be thought of as a situation characterized by a harmony between the objective, external structures and the 'subjective', internal structures of the habitus. In the doxic state, the social world is perceived as natural, taken-for-granted and even commonsensical.
Bourdieu thus sees habitus as an important factor contributing to social reproduction because it is central to generating and regulating the practices that make up social life. Individuals learn to want what conditions make possible for them, and not to aspire to what is not available to them. The conditions in which the individual lives generate dispositions compatible with these conditions (including tastes in art, literature, food, and music), and in a sense pre-adapted to their demands. The most improbable practices are therefore excluded, as unthinkable, by a kind of immediate submission to order that inclines agents to make a virtue of necessity, that is, to refuse what is categorically denied and to will the inevitable.
As mentioned above, Bourdieu used the methodological and theoretical concepts of habitus and field in order to make an epistemological break with the prominent objective-subjective antinomy of the social sciences. He wanted to effectively unite social phenomenology and structuralism. Habitus and field are proposed to do so.
Bourdieu's ambition to unite these sociological traditions, which had been widely thought to be incompatible, was and remains controversial. The most important concept to grasp is habitus. Crudely put, the habitus is the system of dispositions which individuals have. Sociologists very often look at either social laws (structure) or the individual minds (agency) in which these laws are inscribed. Great sociological arguments have raged between those who argue that the former should be sociology's principal interest (structuralists) and those who argue the same for the latter (phenomenologists). When Bourdieu instead asks us to consider dispositions, he is making a very subtle intervention in sociology. He asserts a middle ground where social laws and individual minds meet and is arguing that the proper object of sociological analysis should be this middle ground: dispositions.
Dispositions are also importantly public and hence observable. If I prefer brie to Camembert but keep this fact secret — never showing my preference, scrupulously giving no evidence from which my preference may be observed or deduced — then the preference remains strictly private. It may be aptly called a preference, but it is not a disposition in Bourdieu's sense and arguably not in the everyday sense either. A disposition performs, enacts a preference; however trivial, even when disputing the relative merits of cheeses, a disposition is a public declaration of where one stands, what one's allegiances are.
Amongst any society of individuals, the constant performance of dispositions, trivial and grand, forms an observable range of preferences and allegiances, points and vectors. This spatial metaphor can be analysed by sociologists and realised in diagrammatic form.Ultimately, conceptualising social relations this way gives rise to an image of society as a web of interrelated spaces. These are the social fields.
For Bourdieu, habitus and field can only exist in relation to each other. Although a field is constituted by the various social agents participating in it (and thus their habitus), a habitus, in effect, represents the transposition of objective structures of the field into the subjective structures of action and thought of the agent.
The relationship between habitus and field is two-way. The field exists only insofar as social agents possess the dispositions and set of perceptual schemata that are necessary to constitute that field and imbue it with meaning. Concomitantly, by participating in the field, agents incorporate into their habitus the proper know-how that will allow them to constitute the field. Habitus manifests the structures of the field, and the field mediates between habitus and practice.
Bourdieu attempts to use the concepts of habitus and field to remove the division between the subjective and the objective. Whether or not he successfully does so is open to debate. Bourdieu asserts that any research must be composed of two "minutes." The first an objective stage of research—where one looks at the relations of the social space and the structures of the field. The second stage must be a subjective analysis of social agents' dispositions to act and their categories of perception and understanding that result from their inhabiting the field. Proper research, he says, cannot do without these two together.
Bourdieu extended the notion of capital, defined as sums of money or assets put to productive use. For Bourdieu, these assets could take many forms which had not received much attention when he began writing. Bourdieu habitually refers to several principal forms of capital: economic, symbolic, cultural and social. Loïc Wacquant describes their status in Bourdieu's work in these terms: "Capital comes in 3 principal species: economic, cultural and social. A fourth species, symbolic capital, designates the effects of any form of capital when people do not perceive them as such."
Bourdieu sees symbolic capital (e.g., prestige, honor, attention) as a crucial source of power.Symbolic capital is any species of capital that is, in Loïc Wacquant's terms "not perceived as such," but which is instead perceived through socially inculcated classificatory schemes. When a holder of symbolic capital uses the power this confers against an agent who holds less, and seeks thereby to alter their actions, they exercise symbolic violence .
Symbolic violence is fundamentally the imposition of categories of thought and perception upon dominated social agents who then take the social order to be just. It is the incorporation of unconscious structures that tend to perpetuate the structures of action of the dominant. The dominated then take their position to be "right." Symbolic violence is in some senses much more powerful than physical violence in that it is embedded in the very modes of action and structures of cognition of individuals, and imposes the spectre of legitimacy of the social order.
In his theoretical writings, Bourdieu employs some terminology used in economics to analyze the processes of social and cultural reproduction, of how the various forms of capital tend to transfer from one generation to the next. 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.g., competencies, skills, qualifications, which enable holders to mobilise cultural authority and can also be a source of misrecognition and symbolic violence. 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.g., accent or property) into cultural capital (e.g., university qualifications).
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."In order for individuals to gain such capital, they must work for it constantly and it takes time according to Bourdieu. 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. She/he ought to conduct their research with one eye continually reflecting back upon their own habitus, their dispositions learned through long social and institutional training.
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.); Bourdieu recommends also that the scientist purge their work of the prejudices likely to derive from their social position. 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'.Without a reflexive analysis of the snobbery being deployed under the cover of those subjective terms, the academic will unconsciously reproduce a degree of class prejudice, promoting the student with high linguistic capital and holding back the student who lacks it — not because of the objective quality of the work but simply because of the register in which it is written. Reflexivity should enable the academic to be conscious of their prejudices, e.g. for apparently sophisticated writing, and impel them to take steps to correct for this bias.
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. Again, reflexivity is recommended as the key to discovering and correcting for such errors which would otherwise remain unseen, mistakes produced by an over-application of the virtues that produced also the truths within which the errors are embedded.
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.This should make it difficult for those within the field to bring in, for example, political influence.
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.Having been achieved, it cannot be assumed to be secure. 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: as a sign and/or symbol. These signs and symbols therefore transform language into an agency of power.
Bourdieu "was, for many, the leading intellectual of present-day France... a thinker in the same rank as Foucault, Barthes and Lacan".His works have been translated into two dozen languages and have affected the whole gamut of disciplines in the social sciences and the humanities. They have also been used in pedagogy. Several works of his are considered classics, not only in sociology, but also in anthropology, education, and cultural studies. Distinction: 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. The Rules of Art has significantly affected sociology, history, literature and aesthetics.
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 2001, a documentary film about Bourdieu – Sociology is a Martial Art – "became an unexpected hit in Paris. Its very title stressed how much of a politically engaged intellectual Bourdieu was, taking on the mantle of Émile Zola and Jean-Paul Sartre in French public life and slugging it out with politicians because he thought that was what people like him should do."
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. One example is Loïc Wacquant, who persistently applies the Bourdieusian theoretical and methodological principles to subjects such as boxing, employing what Bourdieu termed participant objectivation (objectivation participante), or what Wacquant calls "carnal sociology." In addition to publishing a book on Bourdieu's lasting influence, novelist Édouard Louis uses the legacy of Pierre Bourdieu as a literary device.
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. "I use Correspondence Analysis very much, because I think that it is essentially a relational procedure whose philosophy fully expresses what in my view constitutes social reality. 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.
Héritier du sociologue Pierre Bourdieu, sur l'oeuvre duquel il a dirigé un ouvrage collectif, infiniment sensible, et sincère, il porte un regard aigu sur la réception de son livre.
| Library resources about |
|By Pierre Bourdieu|
Habitus is ingrained habits, skills and dispositions. It is the way that individuals perceive the social world around them and react to it. These dispositions are usually shared by people with similar backgrounds. The habitus is acquired through imitation (mimesis) and is the reality that individuals are socialized, which includes their individual experience and opportunities. Thus, the habitus represents the way group culture and personal history shape the body and the mind; as a result, it shapes present social actions of an individual.
In sociology and anthropology, symbolic capital can be referred to as the resources available to an individual on the basis of honor, prestige or recognition, and serves as value that one holds within a culture. A war hero, for example, may have symbolic capital in the context of running for political office.
In the field of sociology, cultural capital comprises the social assets of a person that promote social mobility in a stratified society. Cultural capital functions as a social-relation within an economy of practices, and comprises all of the material and symbolic goods, without distinction, that society considers rare and worth seeking. As a social relation within a system of exchange, cultural capital includes the accumulated cultural knowledge that confers social status and power.
Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste is a 1979 book by Pierre Bourdieu, based upon the author's empirical research from 1963 until 1968. A sociological report about the state of French culture, Distinction was first published in English translation in 1984. In 1998 the International Sociological Association voted Distinction as one of the ten most important sociology books of the 20th century.
In sociology, taste is an individual's personal, cultural and aesthetic patterns of choice and preference. Taste is drawing distinctions between things such as styles, manners, consumer goods, and works of art and relating to these. Social inquiry of taste is about the human ability to judge what is beautiful, good, and proper.
Loïc Wacquant is a sociologist and social anthropologist, specializing in urban sociology, urban poverty, racial inequality, the body, social theory and ethnography.
The sociology of culture, and the related cultural sociology, concerns the systematic analysis of culture, usually understood as the ensemble of symbolic codes used by a member of a society, as it is manifested in the society. For Georg Simmel, culture referred to "the cultivation of individuals through the agency of external forms which have been objectified in the course of history". Culture in the sociological field is analyzed as the ways of thinking and describing, acting, and the material objects that together shape a group of people's way of life.
In epistemology, and more specifically, the sociology of knowledge, reflexivity refers to circular relationships between cause and effect, especially as embedded in human belief structures. A reflexive relationship is bidirectional with both the cause and the effect affecting one another in a relationship in which neither can be assigned as causes or effects.
The concept of symbolic power was first introduced by French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu to account for the tacit, almost unconscious modes of cultural/social domination occurring within the everyday social habits maintained over conscious subjects. Symbolic power accounts for discipline used against another to confirm that individual's placement in a social hierarchy, at times in individual relations but most basically through system institutions, in particular education.
The sociology of education is the study of how public institutions and individual experiences affect education and its outcomes. It is mostly concerned with the public schooling systems of modern industrial societies, including the expansion of higher, further, adult, and continuing education.
Cultural reproduction is the transmission of existing cultural values and norms from generation to generation. Cultural reproduction refers to the mechanisms by which continuity of cultural experience is sustained across time. Cultural reproduction often results in social reproduction, or the process of transferring aspects of society from generation to generation.
Sexual capital or erotic capital is the social value an individual or group accrues as a result of their sexual attractiveness. As with other forms of capital, sexual capital is convertible, and may be useful in acquiring other forms of capital, including social capital and economic capital.
Praxis intervention is a form of participatory action research that emphasizes working on the praxis potential, or phronesis, of its participants. This contrasts with other forms of participatory action research, which emphasize the collective modification of the external world. Praxis potential means the members' potential to reflexively work on their respective mentalities; participant here refers not just to the clientele beneficiaries of the praxis intervention project, but also the organisers and experts participating in such a project. Praxis intervention is intended to lead its members through a "participant objectivation". The method prioritizes unsettling the settled mentalities, especially where the settled mindsets prevalent in the social world or individuals is suspected to have sustained or contributed to their suffering or marginality.
The sociology of literature is a subfield of the sociology of culture. It studies the social production of literature and its social implications. A notable example is Pierre Bourdieu's 1992 Les Règles de L'Art: Genèse et Structure du Champ Littéraire, translated by Susan Emanuel as Rules of Art: Genesis and Structure of the Literary Field (1996).
Practice theory is a theory of how social beings, with their diverse motives and their diverse intentions, make and transform the world which they live in. It is a dialectic between social structure and human agency working back and forth in a dynamic relationship. Practice theory, as outlined by Sherry Ortner, "seeks to explain the relationship(s) that obtain between human action, on the one hand, and some global entity which we call 'the system' on the other". The approach seeks to resolve the antinomy between traditional structuralist approaches and approaches such as methodological individualism which attempted to explain all social phenomena in terms of individual actions.
Educational capital refers to educational goods that are converted into commodities to be bought, sold, withheld, traded, consumed, and profited from in the educational system. Educational capital can be utilized to produce or reproduce inequality, and it can also serve as a leveling mechanism that fosters social justice and equal opportunity. Educational capital has been the focus of study in Economic anthropology, which provides a framework for understanding educational capital in its endeavor to understand human economic behavior using the tools of both economics and anthropology.
In sociology, field theory examines how individuals construct social fields, and how they are affected by such fields. Social fields are environments in which competition between individuals and between groups takes place, such as markets, academic disciplines, musical genres, etc.
Symbolic Violence is a term coined by Pierre Bourdieu, a prominent 20th-century French sociologist, and appears in his works as early as the 1970s. Symbolic violence describes a type of non-physical violence manifested in the power differential between social groups. It is often unconsciously agreed upon by both parties and is manifested in an imposition of the norms of the group possessing greater social power on those of the subordinate group. Symbolic violence can be manifested across different social domains such as nationality, gender, sexual orientation, or ethnic identity.
Science capital is a conceptual tool for measuring an individual's exposure and knowledge of science. It can be used to help understanding how social class affects people's aspirations and involvement in science. The concept comes from research in education but is also used more broadly in practice and policy, for instance in the work of the Science and Technology Committee of the House of Commons in the UK.