Bourdieu

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Sociology is a Martial Art:

Bourdieu asks: 

  • why do people do the things they do?
  • how is it that things happen the way they do?
  • what are the principles at work? 
  • society is not in a state of perpetual change:
  • why do things stay the same?
  • how do we account for the things that do not change?
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Why do things stay the same?

  • What is capital and how is it transmitted?
  • Economic capital: a wealthy lawyer can set his kid up in business and invest in it, or provide a loan to see them through. 
  • Cultural capital: Through schooling, the child can obtain qualifications, learn what will please the teacher/ gain the ability to recognise good literature, art and theater - also can learn to speak the right language (Bernstien) 
  • its becoming more and more important as a marker of personal value
  • it is transmitted - like economic cultural - across generations
  • CC - like EC is unequally distributed amongst thep opulation, and so aids in reproducing social inequalities. 
  • even when a child doesnt do well at school a father with wealth still passes on the economic capital by paying for better education, tutors specialist schools etc.
  • CC = speaking right language - english as it should be spoken elaborate not restrictive
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Bourdieu's 3 main concepts:

  • 1) Habitus
  • 2) Capital 
  • 3) Field 
  • these 3 together produce practices
  • each are inter-dependent and co-constructed by one another, they are tangled togethed.
  • these 3 are always inter-related:
  • one has to look at an individuals predispositions (Habitus) in ar elation to the rules of the social space in which that person is acting (field) and taking account of the position that the individual occupies within that fiels (capital)
  • (Habitus) (capital) + Field = Practices
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sociological conundrum:

  • we feel as if we are free agents, but we act towards others we dont know on the basis of assumptions about how they are likely to act.
  • we know others are often predictable in that they act in regular ways, yet we forget to apply this to ourselves. 
  • B asks: how can we account for these regularities withough suggesting that everyon is metely an automaton, obey rules. 
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CAPITAL

  •  is a form of exvchange which is not only economic
  • involves different kinds of assets that actors can exchange within fiels of practice (e.g education)
  • these asets not only material or ecnomic; can be symbolic (values, tastes, lifestyle, abilities)
  • symbolic assets that enable access to power and wealth are highly values in society whereas those that do not are devalued (by virtual hierachical power, within social groups) 
  • group with higher symbolic capital gain social advantages over those with low levels. 
  • one type of capital can transform into another. 
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HABITUS: our dispositions (inheritance)

  • we are not free rational agents, dont have as much free will as we think.
  • neither are we as Symboloic interactionist argue, social actors merely using symbols in accordance with the demands of social situations.
  • we act in accordance with the ways of thinking and feeling (disposition) that our upbringing has embedded in us and with unwritten rules of contexts (field) in whcih we act.
  • our disposition are partly personal, member of similar class fractions, genders, ethnicicties etc tend to share common ones. 
  • Habitus is the 'internalise structure' what we internalise from the structures that are passed down from genreation to genreation
  • the 'disposition of the habitus underlie our actions that in turn contribute to structures' (maton, 2012: 52) 
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HABITUS:

  • refers to ways in which we are produced as subjects through sets of disposition/ habits - which predispose us to thinkk and behave in ways that are adapted to the structures in which we are constituted. 
  • seince these are predispositions, they are embodied, durabel and largely uncontious. (Danaher et al)
  • Habitus is not merely 'habits' - referes to the principles that generate practices. it is relational term that can only be used by understand how it combines with practice, fiel and capital. 
  • No merely social background, or socialisation, nor is it possible to talk of emotional habitus, institutional habitus or other kinds withough accompanying analysis of social field in which it operates. 
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FIELD

  • B argues = in order to understand why people do the things they do, you have to look at the social space in which they do or say things. 
  • Field is like a slopping football field - it has boundaries. rules goals and plays but it is not level.
  • 'a field is a game devoid of inventor and much more fluid and comple than any game that one might ever design (Bourdieu 1992)
  • players that start off with high levels of advantage (capital) get to play the game easily and in their favour... setting the agenda. 
  • to do well in the field it requires resources (capital), field favours those higher levels of capital, social cultural and economic. 
  • if you have a high level of CC and do well in educational field you also favourable in economic filed. 
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Field of cultural consumption:

  • what we do in leisure time, we purchase and prioritites, music, cinema, tv, arts, sports, drink, holidays et we favour - these are not really individual choices so much as expression of our Habitus and capital in a field of cultural consumption. 
  • the value and status to certain tastes pursuits over others, those that accrue calue are those that enable the groups with high cultural capital to enact choices that embody thier capital.
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How to research using Field Theory:

  • 1) analyse the positions of the field. 
  • 2) map out the objective relations between the positions that individuals occupy 
  • 3) analyse the habitus of the indivduals - the disposition they have acquired.
  • allow researcheers to reveal the correspondences between a position in the fieldand the 'stance' or position-taking of the indivudal occupying that position. 
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Definition of field: Bourdieu's:

" structure social space, a field of forces, a force field. contains people who dominate and people who are dominated" 

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Social Inequalities:

  • social inequalities are reproduced by capital: especiall Cultrual capital.
  • - inequalities tend to reproduce that persist, 
  • What purpose do they have? 
  •  - people on top tend to legitimise the inequalities - declare things are ok when its OK for them. "a basic social reality" 
  •  - people tend to justify things as a form of self-defence. 
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Economy and Society:

  • society is the economy: economy is society - nothing that doesnt depend on the economy. 
  • we need an "economy of happiness: not one of finances. 
  • neo-liberal policy only takes economic costs into account: this creastes rising social cost and personal costs. 
  • its in communitys interst, and also in rulers' own interest, to take social cost into account - but they fail to recognise this.
  • the social cost - of health, falling education standard, unemployment - are long-term and cumulative.
  • Bourdieu observes: If we close factories and reduce costs, lay off workers, in the name of increased efficiency and competitiveness, we will simply pay for it in social terms. Things that you can’t cost out, account for, are essential to happiness.
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Symbolic Domination:

  • Bourdieu's book Masculine Domination (2001) adresses gender inequalities: 
  • - men tend to occupy more dominant roles in society; women less dominant ones.
  • - this gives men advantages; they are more visible; more audible
  • men suffer from thier own domination: they are dominated by their own domination
  • women are more docile (willing to learn); more interested in others.
  • neither men nor women are aware of these relations of dominance: symbolic dominance can only work if the dominated are not aware of it.
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Symbolic Violence:

  • the reproduction of social inequality occurs not through social structures or systems (mechanistic relationships) but between enduring social practices.
  • dominant practices often impose suffering on those who are subordinared: - e.g consumption practices in which 'bad' tast is distinguished from 'good tast'
  • dominant symbolic systems (e.g table manners, grammar, accents etc) work as instruments of 'symbolic violence' 
  • symbolic violence results from an inappropriate fit between habitus and field. 
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Bourdieu on Foucault:

  • Bourdieu: to be good sociologist you must always analyse yourself.
  • you must draw on your own life experiences
  • but this is not raw experience: you must reflect on these experiences and analyse them
  • Foucault reflected on his own suffereing as a gay man in a homophobic era - and turned it into scientific problems, in order to undersrand the force of normality, the law, medicine the possibility of resistance. 
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Conclusion:

  • Habitus - the predispositions that we inherit from out childhood experiences.
  • field - the unequal social contexts and institutions in which we operate
  • Capital - the resource and assets we possess (economic, cultural, social)
  • habitus, field and capital - concepts should be used together. 
  • they provide us with an explanation of how inequalities are perpetuated: why things stay the saem. 
  • we are not driven by forces beyond out control byt neither are we free to act as we please. we take positions in different contexts and experiences we have based on our accumulated habitus, the capital we have available and the structure of the field we find ourselves in.
  • inequality is reporduced through processess of material domination by also 'symbolic domination;
  • think about your own tasts (e.g music, books, leisure, design) what kinds of values do you think you express through these tastes? how far do you think these values reflect those of your early influences (e.g parents, schooling, organisation involvement, perr groups etc) ? 
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Comments

Clare

Currently trying to write an essay on Bourdieu and capital and this has really helped me understand the field analogy, thanks! Its quite brief but a great revision tool!

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