READING GUIDE TO: Bourdieu, P.  (1988)  Homo Academicus Cambridge: Polity Press

Chapter 1  ‘A book for burning’

Writing about academics as an academic illustrates really well the problems of trying to break with experience to do social theory.  The problems arise, for example in exemplification, which runs an immediate risk of being seen in a popular way.  The same goes for using proper names, which encourages a stance towards individuals and the relations between them which mimics common perceptions of academics and looks like gossip, or a form of denunciation.  These popular readings are inevitable.  Analysis looks like familiar forms of rhetoric.  The problem is that the structures in the academic field are only ‘accomplished through personal relationships’ (2).  The personal knowledge of the academics doing the analysis is easily combined with theory as well.  Overall, there is a serious problem of reduction ‘to their ordinary meaning of words shared by scholarly and ordinary language’, a confusion between scientific terms and ordinary ones (3).  There is particular danger that ‘constructed individuals…  [will be confused]…  with empirical individuals’ (3). The same goes with the other histories of intellectuals, which tend to ‘rubbish the mighty’, in a way which is ‘fuelled by resentment’ (3).

Analysis can clearly serve the interests of particular lobbies who also tend to reduce it to ad hominem remarks.  Of course, everyone bears a personal responsibility for this, and we are all guilty of ‘acts of cowardice and laxness which leave the power of social necessity intact’ (4).  For these and other reasons, analysing our own group is unpopular, compared with the easier criticism of groups more distant from us.  [This was so with an expose of mandarins with the title ‘A book for burning’.]  There are problems with disclosure, which can be seen as a kind of public confession.  However, sociologists still claim that it is liberating to expose violence and objectification.

We must resist the tendency to see ourselves as necessarily biased, only able to follow personal interest.  But at the same time, the negation of the self altogether can often produce excessive detachment, scientific neutralism and ‘hyperempiricism’ (6).  Nevertheless we must construct the object [in this case elite French academic life] and be clear and logical about it.  We can never achieve total transparency or lucidity though: research never overcomes the partly unknown.  In this case, we need to come to construct a list of powerful academics from an ‘accumulation of different indices’, leading to the gradual development of ‘analytic series’ and statistical relations (7).  There is no simple epistemological break with common sense [a clear dig at Althusser et al], but rather a ‘long dialectical process’ of establishment and confirmation or disconfirmation of hypotheses.

At the same time, the code itself becomes the object of analysis.  The object itself displays a ‘series of traces of the process of construction’ (7).  This separates out social analysis from normal types of classification, although it can overlap with those.  Analysis must reveal a degree of codification, and these degrees of codification occupy a hierarchy [of abstraction? -- compare this with ideal types at different levels of anonymity in Schutz].  Some clarifications are more controversial than others as well, as we shall see with the indices of academic prestige.

Objects are constructed according to their properties and variables.  Constructed individuals vary according to their possession of these properties and variables.  Various combinations of them are not to be seen as affirmative, officialised or positivised—as with official rankings of academics.  This process produces definite sets of individuals, for example those grouped by age or because they are graduates of the ENS [Ecole Normale Superieure].  These sets are connected to other networks, including those of power and prestige.  In academic life however there is often a contest over the precise criteria, including those of legitimate membership [closure principles] which in turn provides opportunities for the conversion of properties to capital.  The struggle over classifications is therefore a result of vested interests, in chances to increase the potential for profit (11).  This produces rival principles of hierarchisation, and these are incompatible rather than an agreed set of neutral criteria.  For this reason, the process of classification itself needs analysis and discussion.  The usual solution is to gloss this.  This is seen in the construction of those typologies which mix an indigenous label with a  scholarly one—these are neither fully constructed nor are they concrete enough for research, and often arise from a realist intention, producing a hopeless amalgam of criteria [the example given is Gouldner’s work on locals and cosmopolitans, or Burton Clark with his list of different educational types such as teacher, demonstrator, researcher, consultant – page 12].  These are really commonsense versions of the relations of the scholarly field, applied to individuals.  They prevent an awareness of the link between the dynamics of power and the intellectual field: they have a scholarly appearance, but they are familiar and unchallenging.

Social science must study the struggles that go on behind classifications.  Powerful agents can change the classifications and representations, and this is often revealed in the various preambles or prefaces to scholarly work which ‘translate into scientific virtues the necessities and…  limits inherent in a position’ (14).  Thus we find justification of the struggle in which narrows specialists aim to undermine brilliant essayists, and witness the essayists getting ironic about the specialist, or, if really threatened, denouncing the ‘petty and sterile caution of “positivist” hacks’ (14).

Classificatory terms are therefore best seen as reduced forms of symbolic competition.  The principles behind them are unacknowledged.  Inconsistent or contradictory judgments often ensue, just as in common sense.  It is necessary to demonstrate the relation between the ‘categoremes’ [elements of categories] involved and the social properties of agents (15).  This leaves sociologists with a further challenge—perhaps analysis simply reflects their perspectives?

The point is that sociologist can free themselves from social determinism, they can ‘objectify their own position’, and even ‘objectify the very intention of objectifying’, and in this way, exclude elements such as the ‘ambition to dominate by means of the weapons of science’ (15).  We need to analyse our own dispositions and interests, and therefore social interests, and exercise ‘epistemological vigilance’ (15).  The results can actually strengthen scientific work itself – we make progress in scientific understanding if we include understanding ourselves.  We can also avoid the reduction to causal analysis of the reasons given by others—it is more profitable to analyse our own interests and motivations [a strange echo of De Certeau’s criticism of Bourdieu here].  We must however avoid gaining any personal advantage from this analysis.  This is quite unlike what Marx or Nietzsche did, when they tried to ‘use the science of conflict in the conflict itself’ (16).  [and the modern example of Boudon is given as well].

[This argument is repeated on several occasions in the rest of this chapter, and I am alternately convinced and not convinced by it!  On the one hand, it seems quite close to the position of people like Popper to argue that the principles of science can emancipate people from their own social determinants.  On the other hand, it seems to offer only infinite regress—when we objectify the intention of objectifying, we could still be doing this in the interests of some ambition to dominate].

Thus we should begin by considering those ‘properties which function as effective forces in the struggle for specifically university power’ (17).  This should enable us to construct an objective space, in a way which is ‘methodical and unambiguous…  and irreducible to the sum of all partial representations of agents’ (17) [this is a formal statement of the search to explain all the significant variance that we encountered in the earlier work on the effects of class and gender in university admittance?].  This space will occupy several dimensions.  The approach involves a break with intuition and hybrid descriptions, pursuing the intention to describe ‘the logic of the struggles which derive their principle from this structure (17).  Struggle is simply ‘an ineluctable fact’ which cannot be excluded nor observed from the outside (17).  The approach involves neither simple objectivism nor perspectivism.  The university field is constructed by classificatory struggles.  The perceptions of agents depend on their position in this field.  The goal of scientific analysis is to explain both field and perceptions.  It is an integration of objectivism and perspectivism that is required here.  We need to analyse objectification itself, both for theoretical and ethical reasons and because this will offer greater precision compared to the ‘global and confused perception of the population of the “powerful”'(18).  Such an activity will clearly expose the social scientific logic of understanding, compared to common sense [‘practical understanding’ (18)] especially in contrasting clarity to vagueness—vagueness is essential to practical understanding, and so is misconstrual. 

University life offers a classical world of self deceit, of ‘splitting the ego’: it is a war of all against all, but also of considerable interdependence, since there is a need for the mutual recognition of worth, and thus the mutual recognition of social identity.  There are lots of ‘collective defence mechanisms’ which insulate individuals against excessive rigour in the application of criteria.  There are multiple scales of evaluation and forms of excellence.  Criteria are often indeterminate—place of publication might be important, or visiting lectures one has given.  This produces a set of confusing hierarchies in contention with each other.  From the perspective of agents, it is difficult to distinguish those who are not invited to do things and those who refuse.  We cannot just take these ordinary criteria as objects to study, since they often arise from self defence, from a kind of agreed antitrust law (20).  Often there are as many rewards for attitudes as for accomplishments, many notions of solidarity and identification with the other struggles.  Indeed politicisation of this kind often arises ‘as a compensatory strategy’, as an escape from the academic market (20)—Marxism can act as a ‘last resort’ (21).  [Ouch!  Talk about a moment of painful self recognition!].

Logical or theoretical approaches here are essential to demonstrating what sociologists actually do.  Sociology is often read as if it is the same as ordinary language.  A classic confusion is between work which is value related and work which is value laden: sociologists can record ‘a fact of evaluation’, only to be suspected of agreeing with the evaluation (21).  Problems arise particularly in describing individuals, where there is an overlap between science and ordinary language usage.  In ordinary language, for example names identify individuals without describing their function.  Individuality is not analysed, but simply acknowledged.  The sociologically constructed individual is different – it is the sum of properties which differ from others, and to a location in sociological space [the old antihumanism here then, like the idea of individuals as bearers of social forces].  Thus the sociologically constructed individual ‘Levi Strauss’ means a collection of selected properties.  Those properties of the empirical individual which have been omitted include things like ‘eye or hair colour, blood group or height’ [bit naughty -- these are trivial examples!] (22).  ‘Levi Strauss’ is a position in a constructed space, structured by systems of differences ‘of uneven intensity and unevenly linked to each other’ (22).  Of course, the properties of this individual helped construct the space as well.  The theoretical individual [the ‘epistemic individual’] can be fully described by his properties.  However, this construction apparently still needs to be externally adequate—‘able to reconcile the theory with properties provisionally excluded’, such as psychoanalytic properties (23).

So the spatial diagrams of the scholarly field reproduce the logical operations of the set of principles of differentiation [and further helpful guides to understand these marvellous matrices and maps occur later] In the actual diagrams, two empirical individuals can fuse [so empirical individuals are not the issue].  Reading them does not imply a matter of simple recognition—a naive reading would immediately ‘recognise’ individuals and relations, assuming empirical everyday differences.  These are present in the diagram, however—diagrams do map social reality, and can be seen as codified ‘practical patterns of perception and action’ (24).  However, agents respond to ‘the necessities of their domain’ (24), and readers do not see the principles of the construction of the actual diagram or matrix.  [There seem to be one of two echoes of the critical realist position here too—maybe the diagrams model the structures that produce empirical relations?].

Scientific discourse ‘is problematic’ especially where it is applied ‘to the very game in which its author finds himself playing and wagering on’ (24). It becomes impossible to avoid ordinary language attachments and thus any relation can easily become ‘ad hominem polemic’ (24).  Many readers will be well aware that the writer is in the field too, and so readers will also reduce analysis to polemic, and ‘will see in the slightest nuances of the writing…  indices of bias’ (25).  Any technical theoretical sections will be seen as an unnecessary ‘greyness’ added to an autobiography [more or less exactly the position of autoethnography and other fans of the narrative?].  There is no easy solution.  Circumlocution intended to anonymise [the 'Chair of the Department' etc] can be taken instead as ‘one of the classic procedures of  university polemic, which is to designate opponents only by allusions, insinuations or undertones’ (25).  Scientific neutralisation can therefore add violence ‘by the methodical erasure of all external signs of violence’ (25).

There is an inclusion of common sense labels especially in the formation of [sloppy] typologies, as above.  The same goes when using correspondence analysis.  The demonstration of perfect mastery of mathematical principles can be distorted by readers who are still applying ordinary language understandings, for example of the names of factors.  There is some overlap again here, between specialist and ordinary language, because the divisions established by factory analysis are never entirely logical nor divided by clear boundaries.  Items in sets often only display a ‘family resemblance’, which is not that different from ‘”firsthand” intuition’ (26).  Statistical relations are also ‘relations of intelligible affinity rather than of logical similarity’ (26).  The analyst must make this explicit, but at the same time condense complexities into a simple name.

Ordinary language often tends to use pseudo-academic ‘isms’ as insults.  It identifies classes by concepts, as in nomination, and sees this as the only legitimate viewpoint.  It might be better instead to designate each sector [of the diagram] ‘by a plurality of concepts…  [to remind us that]…  each of the regions can…  only be conceptualised and expressed in its relation to the others’ (26), and that different, even antagonistic, nominations are likely in practice—like unofficial names, or using official names to imply a use of symbolic violence.  Sociological nominations are likely to be of less interest, if they are not dismissed as simply polemic.

We seem to need ‘systematic circumlocution’, even if this threatens communication.  We should offer a complete enumeration of properties, or choose the most synoptic concept.  We must admit ‘epistemic polyphony’ to suggest different definitions and different relations between sets, and ‘empirical polyphony’ to recognise different names in practice and in struggle (27).

We must resist the recourse to a literary style.  We need to encourage scientific reading rather than simply demonstrate scientificity.  Scientific writing is distinct from fiction because ‘it means what it says’, takes itself seriously, and admits mistakes.  Novels only deploy discourses to create a ‘ rhetoric of veracity’, whereas we should be developing ‘the rhetoric of scientificity destined to produce a fiction of science’, so that our work will be socially accredited as science (28).  This is important because ‘truth has no intrinsic force’ so it is necessary to generate ‘an intrinsic force of belief in truth’ (28).  This gives science its authority, and also explains why it is contested: defence mechanisms include an insistence that science is doxic, that is related to the position [and authority] of the researcher in the field.  Instead, readers need recognition ‘of the limits associated with the conditions of its production’ (29).  [I never realized Bourdieu had made any sorts of comments like this, and I shall use them in the great struggle with people who want to argue that sociology is a fiction, and thus no better than a Jane Austen novel!].

Any discourse trying to be scientific must accept current ‘representations of scientificity’ and norms (29).  Only then can it gain ‘symbolic efficacy and…  social profits’ (29).  Scientific discourse in the world is inevitably affected by the objective relations of the world, especially in the way it gains social value.  It is like realist art, which is accepted because it conforms to impressions of reality.  Scientific discourse must give the impression of scientificity.  It demonstrates this through the use of a particular style, just as professional philosophy distinguishes itself by its [analytic and precise] style.  Sociology should avoid fine writing or ‘linguistic finesse’, and adopt instead ‘the trappings of scientificity (graphs, statistical tables, even mathematical formalism)’ (29).  There is clearly a relation with positions in the university field—sociologists and historians find themselves between the demands of science and literature.  Historians tend to be closest to literature, geographers tend to specialise in ‘empiricist abdication’, but sociologists borrow their rhetorics from both fields, and develop both mathematical and philosophical styles (30).

We should not reject scientific ambition, but exercise vigilance towards increases in scientificity.  These issues are far more important than rigorous adherence to a particular methodology, which often delivers only ‘scientific respectability at a low cost’ (30).  The much vaunted reliability of methods is really a social virtue, a characteristic of settled and dependable people.  It is valued and displayed by ‘bureaucrats of normal science’ who stick to what they know (30).  Methodological rigour really involves the ‘display of scientific virtue’, mimicking the advanced sciences, showing ‘ostentatious conformity to the formalist requirements of normal science (significance tests, calculations of error, bibliographic references etc.)’ (31) [sports science to a T].  Science can become purely routinized, and people can do it ‘without reflection or critical control’ (31). Flawless procedures lead to respectability.  Social science, with its emphasis on social determinants ‘constitutes the strongest weapon against “normal science” and against positivist self confidence’ (31).

Marx argues that some individuals can liberate themselves from their social determinants, but Bourdieu argues that it is scientific representations and constructs that offer the best way to do this, using systematic totalisation, but without embracing absolute viewpoints.  Perfection of the system is the aim.  We should avoid universalising individual viewpoints, and rationalising the unconscious effects of their own social situations—we need to ‘unwrap all the boxes’ in which the researcher and readers are enclosed (32).

We therefore need to analyse the university field systematically, then the faculties, then the disciplines.  It helps to acknowledge the position of the researcher as a participant, with effects of their own [especially if you are a famous professor, of course].  We can then investigate the determinants of the structures in the field, and the effects of changes such as expansion and resistance by the older professionals.  All fields draw forces from outside in their internal struggles, producing a ‘collision of independent causal series’ (33).

Can we generalise from specific cases?  We must try to do so in order to establish ‘transhistorical variants’ (33).  We should use the ‘omnitemporal present [tense] of scientific discourse’ in order to indicate the continued presence of these factors.  It’s this sort of thing that makes sociology controversial: history is safely confined to the past and can be dealt with.  An emphasis on the transhistorical is not a denial of change – in this case, there has been a clear effect of changes in appointment procedures for lecturers, for example.  There is also a constant struggle for new positions, and thus status, leading to things such as the abolition of formal differences between universities.  We have to be aware that it is likely that modern readers will still do ad hominem readings, however—these readings are willed, and can draw strength from the forces of resistance.


Chapter 2 The Conflict of the Faculties
[clever stuff here, referring to a piece by Kant, who meant mental faculties, which permits Bourdieu to do a bit of sociological reduction of Kant again!]

Professional authority depends on the possession of cultural capital, but cultural capital is ambiguous in value, leading to an opposition between writers and artists on the one hand, and those who possess institutionalised bureaucratic cultural capital on the other.

The first bit of empirical work here analyses the social characteristics of those professors who contribute to prestigious French journals.  The available data indicate that such people have high rates of social integration compared to writers and artists—professors are more often married, with children, possessing decorations and titles.  Writers claimed charisma as an explanation of their success, while professors say that good families and teachers are responsible.  Indeed, they commonly display a ‘feeling of gratitude and sometimes almost of veneration or fervour’ toward their teachers (37).  The academic field is distant from the ‘field of economic or political power’, reflecting the growing autonomy of the university sector since the 19th century, and growing professionalism, increasingly seen as ‘incompatible with political life’ (37).  Professors are specialists as well which makes them different from ‘fashionable society’ (38).  However, it is the variation of positions inside the academic field, and the location of these positions near the poles of cultural prestige and political and economic power that is of interest.  The influence of dominant classes increases from science to arts faculties, and from those to medicine and law, reflecting the growing influence of the political and economic pole.

The second piece of empirical work involved a survey of 405 professors ‘on the eve of 1968’ and all the transformations that produced.  The study is a ‘prosopography’ [what? -- according to Wikipedia, 'an investigation of the common characteristics of a historical group, whose individual biographies may be largely untraceable, by means of a collective study of their lives'] (390).  Bourdieu gathered all the available data about each professor, and tried interviews and telephone enquiries.  However, there was a widespread and refusal to classify themselves, and denial of any position on any poles.  Indeed, the inquiry was seen as an attack [the connection between professors and outside power relations was apparently a big issue in France in 1968].  Bourdieu focused only on published information: (1) ‘determinants in the formation of the habitus’—social determinants especially paternal capitals, occupation and religion; (2) educational determinants—school attended, where and of what type, HE institution attended; (3) academic power—membership of professional bodies and responsibilities including the national ones; (4) scientific power—direction of a research unit, memberships of bodies responsible for scientific research; (5) scientific prestige—distinctions, works in translation, citations; (6) intellectual renown—mention in Larousse, membership of the Academie Francaise or of educational committees; (7) political and economic power—membership of political committees or establishment schools; (8) political dispositions, shown by eg signatures on petitions.  (40) [Note that Bourdieu tends to actually refer to these as ‘the capital of scientific prestige’, ‘the capital of scientific power’ and so on].

The academic field reflects the field of power but it also has its own specific reproduction mechanisms including the deployment of unconscious hierarchies and relations.  Faculties vary according to their social dominance [ranked as above from science to law].  These are ordered according to a classic division between the dominant and subordinate [assumed to be a universal division?  And if so, for Weberian or Marxist reasons?].  The hierarchy of the faculties match ‘other indicators of social position’ (41), such as attendance at private school—although there is ‘an inversion’ when it comes to the faculties of law and medicine!  [Unexplained from what I could see].  Social background is also related, so that the sons of professors become professors themselves especially in the arts.  There is however a special ‘path to success’ of professors in arts and science of working class origins—membership of the Ecole Normale d’Instituteurs [which seems to be a prestigious teacher training college for primary teachers with a competitive entrance system].  Particular trajectories could be important elsewhere, but there is insufficient data.

The series of tables pages 43 – 47, display the relationships.  The table on page 43 shows the connection between social integration factors and professorial status in different faculties.  Bourdieu agrees that there are ‘many uncertainties’ here, though, including lots of don’t knows, and the problems of allocating individuals to groups—for example, do mechanics belong with mathematicians or in physics, does the history of law belong in law or in history, and do clinical practitioners belong with surgeons?  (42).  So he used the ‘major administrative divisions found in universities’.  The tables also indicate the importance of the various capitals (pages 45—7).  Again there are some ambiguities, for example having a family of more than three children can indicate ‘economic capital (with social capital, at least potentially)…  attributes…  like religion and in particular active membership of the Roman catholic church’ (47).  Salary differences can vary according to the dynamics of an academic career, so that professors in the arts are underprivileged because of a typically late career structure in that faculty. 

There is an inverse relation between political and economic power and scholarly prowess, revealing ‘two antagonistic principles of hierarchisation…  The social hierarchy…  is in opposition to the specific properly cultural hierarchy corresponding to the capital of scientific authority or intellectual renown’ (48).  There are also two principles of legitimation: the temporal and political are dependent on principles ‘in the field of power…  Increasingly dominant as we ascend the specifically temporal hierarchy…  from the science faculties to the faculties of law and medicine’ (48).  [I am not sure if anything special is meant by ‘temporal’ here, or whether it is merely being contrasted to ‘spiritual’ or ‘mental’,meaning worldly].  The autonomy of the scientific and intellectual order dominates as we move the other way.  This polarity affects the academic field deeply, [including the tensions between cultural production and social reproduction?].  The social integration indices show an integration in the social order, ‘a measure of what one might call the taste for order’ among academics (49).  The whole set of indices should be examined because there are connections between, say, a divorced status, a large family, the choice of private schooling, the possession of public honors, and right wing political opinions, as opposed to left wing opinions, oblate status, and ‘Jewish identity’ (49).  [compare with David Martin’s history of sociology at LSE which placed emphasis on the Jewish or lapsed Jewish origins of the likes of Popper and Gellner, and which gave LSE sociology its critical and paranoid edge].  What we see is the ‘spontaneous coherence of practices or properties produced by a single generating and unifying principle’ (49), although this is not a coherent ideology, and not ‘explicitly totalized’, but rather ‘products of the habitus’ (50-51).

The taste for order, seriousness, duty and integration on the one hand, and the rejection of order, deep attachments and avoidance of the social world of orderly respectable people, with its ‘ceremonies, rituals, idées reçues,  traditions and honours’ (51) divide the academic field.  The taste for order also links academics to the social order and to custom.  The faculties and disciplines polarise along this line too: Law is obviously normative. Medicine is rigorous and scientific, and also advocating a ‘morality, or lifestyle and ) ideal’ (51), displaying the authority of ‘the “capable” and the “notable”’, and clearly implicated in attempts to define ‘the good’ (51).  Support for science is consonant with anti Catholicism, and vice versa—the Roman Catholic bourgeoisie choose private education leading to jobs for their children in socially respectable traditional occupations.  These oppositions reproduce themselves in acts of reinvestment by participants.  Scientists focus their efforts for their kids on universities, lawyers on politics and business.  There is a whole affinity between ethical and intellectual dispositions [again with a religious dimension – Jews and Catholics are at opposite ends of the pole, with Protestants in the middle (52)].

The academic field is homologous to the field of power but has its own logic.  The origins of these divisions are also found in the production of knowledge and the links with social reproduction.  Academics differ in terms of their memberships of bodies that do the governance of the university, including national bodies.  There are differences in actual achievements too, for example in intellectual prestige.  Positions here are ‘so closely associated with social differences that they seem to be the retranslation into a specifically academic logic of initial differences of incorporated capital (the habitus)…  or objectified capital…  different social or geographical origins’ (53).  Inherited advantages can be turned into ‘”earned” advantages’, including career choices (53). 

There are implications for professional work and notions of scholarship, including ideas of research and teaching which ‘designate very different realities’ despite their misleading similarity, often due to borrowing a common set of scientific terms [his example is ‘laboratory’, mine would be 'workshop'] (54).  Thus in medicine, the differences between directing research and actually doing it have been blurred: professors are able to pose as, for example, a ‘”patriarchal head” who sacrifices his so called personal research…  [But this is often merely]…   means of disguising appearances’ (55).

Administrative success actually depends on having a ‘social sense…  from membership of the milieu’ (55) [the next sentence implies that the social milieu is actually where the tolerance and liberalism of the research director comes from, reinforced by the official definitions of the institution].  This mix of scientific, statutory and social authority enables an entire professional career away from research.  It is necessary to have these people as heads of research groups.  However, there is a hidden ‘entrance fee—nepotism’.  Nepotism helps the direct reproduction of family advantage but also indicates connections to the entire game, and is necessary for group support and group dynamics [one example is the ‘”conviction” or “enthusiasm” encouraged by the boards of examiners—I think this means the examiners at those prestigious oral examinations who welcomed the display of these characteristics, earlier work argued.  This whole sections seems to refer back to the needs to demonstrate the necessary social relationship to academic work, for example in Bourdieu and Passeron].  Manners are also necessary for admission, and members need to demonstrate conformity.  This is what ‘team spirit’ is—the ‘visceral form of recognition of everything which constitutes the existence of the group and which the group most reproduces’ (56).  [I think it might be possible to detect a rather functionalist undertone here too, or perhaps an apologetic one?] Team spirit is indefinable because it is clearly not just technical competence.  It can only be learned by previous experience, itself the product of ‘durable dispositions…  a corporeal hexis’ (56).

Academics are selecting ‘”the man”, the whole person, the habitus’ (57).  Indeed this is often explicitly claimed at examination boards [and an example from a participant of the aggregation process confirms this, and sounds awfully familiar: ‘Experience shows the wisdom of this “impressionism”, surer and safer than the deceptive accuracy of figures’ (57)].  The same processes are apparent when professors of medicine are coopted.  The process is not about knowledge but more about ‘the art of applying knowledge…  aptly in practice, which is inseparable from an overall manner of acting or living, inseparable from an habitus’ (57) [and more memoirs are used in support].  This also explains the importance in medical training of an internship, learning from experience [and maybe the current importance of work based learning or unpaid 'internships' in the American fashion?].  These practices help to find people who ‘know their job’ [almost with an expectation that they do not need to be ‘absolutely first rate, very bright’ (57)].  ‘This entirely traditional…  apprenticeship…  demanded less a theoretical knowledge than an investment of the whole person in a relationship of trust in the head…  and in the institution and the “art of medicine”’ (58).  [So people still need to demonstrate their relationship to the people holding the knowledge, just as they do in entrance examinations].

Academic life reveals whole differences in terms of knowledge, values and lifestyles, indeed ‘two ways of envisaging the successful man’ (58).  One way is to show you ‘belonged to order’ through the possession of capitals and ‘dispositions such as reliability, respect for ... masters and respectability in ... private life…  docility in the face of the hyperscholastic routines [required to pass examinations]…  or even rhetorical skills’ (58).  Again, nepotism has an advantage in confirming a ‘seniority in the profession…  certain properties explicitly and implicitly demanded of new entrants’ (58). These can include the symbolic capital of the respected name, and the 'cultural capital of generalised nonformalised nature', an ‘art…  only…  acquired in the long term and at first hand’ (59).  Members of the lesser faculties do objectify and codify their knowledge more often, often expressing that in ‘methods and techniques’ (59).  [This sentence made me think of the disdain for methods and techniques in the likes of Adorno or Habermas for—could this possibly be a celebration of aristocratic accomplishment?  I also thought of the petty bourgeois stupidity of study skills --my acquired aristocratic disdain?].  This does at least make the lesser faculties a bit more open to outsiders.

There is a split inside the faculties as well, between scientific and social competence.  Again the medical faculty shows the whole picture best [although it fits Education really well too].  Medicine shows a split between practitioners and biologists, for example, which is not only a split between arts and science, but one between two types of medical practice, represented by the consultation of real people on the one hand or laboratory tests on the other.  The balance between the two factions can vary.  For example, one tries to insist that practice should set the goals for biological research, while the other claims that the pursuit of science and pure research will help to break through the old constraints enshrined by practice.  Medical researchers oscillate between scientific professionals and clinical professionals.  Even the participants in the medical faculty see this polarisation. Medical researchers are also not so enmeshed in family hierarchies, nor so committed to the social order [and again, they often seemed to be Jewish]. The split spills into conventional politics as well, with researchers tending to be left wing and surgeons right wing.

There is a clear homology between academic life and religious splits between the orthodox and the heretical.  There is also a clash between scientific and social respectability.  Adherents also differ according to their dependence on temporal power and their dispositions towards conformity, submission and orthodoxy.

These divisions are akin to Kant’s distinction between the mental faculties.  For him, the higher [mental] faculties are supposed to have the greatest public influence, and this is just what we find with the [temporal] faculties of theology, law and medicine, who have great public influence and also the most connections with government: the lower faculties [geddit?] have only scholarly reason and their own laws.  It seems that authority is opposed to freedom to examine and object.  Seemingly abstract and independent forms of knowledge are there to be reproduced unquestioningly in the higher faculties, whereas the lower ones are attempting to find out the rational basis for their knowledge.  Similarly, doctors and jurists have their technical competence supported by legal sanctions as the basis of their authority, and often demonstrate a ‘magical tone’, a mixture of the social and the technical (63) [links with professorial charisma as in earlier work].  Foucault is used in support here, with his analysis of the important social role of medicine.  The clinical act can be seen as a form of symbolic violence, since competence can never simply be applied rationally without the operation of ‘indices provided by the patients…  solicited by clinical inquiry’ (63-64).  Bourdieu quotes Cicourel in insisting that diagnosis involves power and imposition, and unreflective ‘translation of the spontaneous clinical discourse of the patient into the codified clinical discourse of the doctor’ (64).  The limits of the practitioner are never questioned, nor the role of any leading questions or presuppositions.

In this way, there is a general substitution of socially arbitrary academic necessity for ‘social necessity which is academically arbitrary’ (64) [clever -- I think I know what this means! Universities are only too glad to make arbitrary stuff look academically credible and probably must do so if conventional  practice is to ensue].  Academic knowledge gets its recognition mostly from outside, from ‘arbitrary’ social values (64).  It needs support from a community of scholars as well, who may well also be professionally interested in systematization.  But cultural values are necessary too—there is no real coherence except through ‘beliefs, or in short, the orthodoxy of a group…  [even though this seems]…  purely rational…  free from any determination’ (65).  Nepotism is only the extreme form of ‘social co-option’ to preserve the habitus.  This is seen as we move through the hierarchy towards practitioners or jurists: social unity is essential to intellectual unity especially if academic coherence is insecure while social responsibilities are great [Bourdieu’s example is the jurist who must present his cobbled-together judgments as authoritative, but I think it fits teachers really well too, specially poor sods doing higher degrees who have to somehow cobble together a methods chapter and can do so only by following fashion and showing that they belong].

This also explains the support for the general nontechnical functions of the university from dominant groups, and the further support of those academic subjects that match pedagogy with the social function.  There is a disinterest in autonomy among the dominant faculties [because they enjoy this outside support].  Employers also have particular preferences, and fear ‘”contamination”…  [if]…  technical functions…  threaten [the] fulfilment of social functions’ (66) [too many stroppy sociologists or philosophers].  This explains the connections between politics and faculty membership even if these are not explicitly described by professors.  Conservatism is hidden and tends to be under-represented in public appearances of intellectuals.  While there might be public expressions of political views, there is a compromise between ethical and political implications and ‘the market where the opinion expressed is on offer’ (67).  Academic views are often conservative, while public expressions can reflect the market [note 57 on page 295 shows how the public leftism in 1968 contrasted with the corporate quietism of  most professors --certainly the case at LSE in 1968].  It is often the case that the survivors of selection in the education system ‘are among the most unconditional defenders of the system and its hierarchies’ (68).  To some extent, social science is the exception, since its knowledge both supports and confronts ‘order and power’.  In particular, it tends to show that the current state of affairs is only one possibility, and so it has already shown the withdrawal of support for the status quo for its critics (69).

A note on the factor analysis of correspondences

The technique assumes the random distribution of responses and then plots deviations.  These are represented visually in ‘factorial planes’, which represent the weight of correspondences according to their distance from chi-square values (relations between observed and expected scores).  Positive deviations show more frequent relations between categories  than expected, negative ones show an inverse relation, and there are zero deviations as well.  What is related is not the responses to two different questions, but ‘associations between categories of response to the various questions’ (69).  A number of attributes are collated and attributed to a ‘statistical unit’ [in a rather interesting form—if an attribute is present it is scored as one, and if absent as zero.  The reason for conflating things like this seems to be to overcome the redundancy of sociological categories, such as where there are high correlations between paternal and maternal occupation and education].  Deviations between individuals and variables are both measured: positive associations show the same characteristics or the same absences; negative associations show that an attribute is positive for one individual and absent for another.  The assumption is there are no such regularities.

The visual maps show positive deviations as ‘conjunctions of the points’ [that is clustering].  The associations are stronger if these points are close to the axes and far from the centre of the diagram.  Negative deviations translate as spatial oppositions and distance, and are important especially if they are away from both axes and the centre.  Random distributions are shown as at a  ‘right angle’ [equidistant from the axes and the centre?].  Points displayed in the centre of the diagram are not strongly associated.

The diagrams are the equivalent to tables of approximations.  The first axis is the best possible approximation [to the data and the way it is patterned?] , the second one the best correction to the first approximation (71).  In sociological terms, the first axis represents the stronger structure, and then progressively weaker ones until we are left with ‘uninterpretable irregularities’ (71).

In these particular diagrams, the first axis represents academic power vs. other powers.  The second axis demonstrates the oppositions turning on age and prestige.  The third one represents measures of obscurity vs. establishment status.  Some factors, such as the possession of an honorary doctorate, are found in the centre indicating that they have no role in oppositions.  The tables show the contribution of different characteristics to the formation of an axis (‘a system of attractions and oppositions’).

Diagrams like this help us to interpret the structure from examining whole sets of attributes.  However it is important to remember that they are still only the ‘theoretical shorthand of a graphical system’ (72).  This should also warn us against further factorial analysis attempting to find underlying factors ['intelligence' is Bourdieu's example] .  We need to reconstruct the variables and interpret the categories.  It is sometimes possible to do this if the categories can be quantified, for example age or the number of translations into foreign languages [which gives us an estimate of their strength?]. Qualitative variables such as fathers' profession may offer different appearances—a single variable to distinguish professors, but a graduated variable in the oppositions based on age and prestige.

Chapter 3 Types of Capital and Forms of Power

Members of arts faculties tend to be interested onlookers in the struggle between science and academic power (represented by law and medicine).  Researchers have low status in medicine, and administrators low status in science.  Arts and social sciences offer a more balanced picture, intellectual renown is important as is social power.  There is an ongoing struggle over classification, with elite professors as the most powerful.  It is difficult to get a reasonable sample of faculty here: it is important to include non Parisians, despite their relative unimportance [if we want to assess the influecne of Parisian location?], and to include members of examination boards, national bodies, editorial panels, those with citations and so on as measures of intellectual renown.  [As the Preface notes, lots of sociologists who are most famous in English speaking countries actually turn out to have a rather marginal status in France].  Privileges arise from being publicly known.  Those who have fame will have visible effects in the struggle.  There are the usual problems in using individuals as markers, but it is inevitable to do so as there are few other institutional dimensions [except memberships].

The choice of criteria is especially important, and omitting just one, such as the index of editorial membership would simply eliminate ‘the most intellectual fraction of academics’ (77), while including those academics most connected with journalism would be a good way of including individuals with particularly powerful effects in this case.  [So choosing indices requries a lot of insight]. The difficulties of managing such uncertainties arises because the reality itself is uncertain, for example over the principle of hierarchisation.  Some individuals have both administrative and research responsibilities, and the retirement of particular individuals from one post can affect the results.  Estimating the influence of rising stars is also a problem. Paris is still over represented, and disciplines like classical literature are overrepresented compared to modern literature and languages. Age has an important [but uneven] role as indicating access to power.

Social and cultural variables are linked too—for example, the sons of businessmen are overrepresented.  The role of academic capital is also evident, especially in ENS membership, particularly for those professors claiming specifically academic power.

The axes are familiar.  The first one represents academic power to reproduce the university, especially through appointments.  Lots of the most powerful people here seem to be the children of primary teachers with ENS backgrounds.  The less powerful draw upon a mixture of other powers, such as research prowess, scientific or intellectual renown, publication records, connections to the media.  The latter is particularly important here as ‘the index of both the power of consecration and criticism and of a symbolic capital of renown’ (79).  The second axis reflects age and the possession of consecrated titles, academic science or vocational, as opposed to the younger members who are less institutionalised.  Institutions are also divided according to their possession of such individuals. There is a relation to inherited capital, and this varies according to ‘the proximity of the Parisian bourgeoisie’ (79), private education, and, in the provinces, a lower middle class origin.  The third axis reveals oppositions between establishment figures with academic power able to affect internal reproduction together with external recognition, compared to more obscure, often specialist academics.  The latter are less often ENS graduates and more often ‘the sons of tradesmen, and born abroad’ (81).  The diagram summarising these factors on page 18 shows definite clusters in the diagonal regions: the academically powerful as opposed to great scholars, differences according to internal or external prestige, whether or not there are publications, or mentions in the Citation Index.  Individuals vary according to their dependence on their institutional position as opposed to those who have intellectual renown.  The latter include oblates in particular. One example refers to an academic who although being referred to as the ‘Barbara Cartland of Greek Studies in France’ did well in the aggregation, had joined ENS, and was seen as a populariser, and in this way was able to assemble all the attributes necessary for a career, both personal and institutional.

The power to make appointments is an important issue, since this governs the reproduction of the corps.  Assistant lecturers are often recruited from the ranks of Ph.D. students which means contacts with supervisors is an important issue.  Whole networks of patronage are established and can interlock so that particularly powerful individuals are located at the top of several hierarchies.  Networks operate through a complex series of exchanges operating over whole chains, so that recommendations for appointment might be ‘repaid by a [good] book review’ by allies of the appointee (86).  The ENS is at the centre of this activity, and provides individuals with massive social capital and the ability to network well beyond their ‘local fiefs’ (87).

Age is important because it takes time to accumulate these various networks and contacts.  Most academics seem to operate with an ideal career, from ENS to a chair at the Sorbonne.  Such a career will be ordered as a series of recognised points of succession.  It is agreed that it is necessary to avoid cutting corners in order to acquire gravitas.  This clearly shows respect for the principles of the established order, and domesticates struggle and competition—competitors are spaced out on a career line, and seem to agree with the rules.  Such a career structure therefore regulates and requires adherence to new entrants, beginning with giving them opportunities to acquire Ph.D. students and to publish.  [Anecdotes from various supervisors show they are aware of their need to both restrain and encourage, and to regulate their students as they progress towards their thesis]

Academic docility spreads downwards too, producing something like infantilism as a sign of the ‘good pupil’ (88).  Here, waiting is seen as a crucial aspect of durable power,  persistent regulation, and involving a need to defer rewards.  The younger members have their expectations manipulated, and are aware that the conditions of the game, the actual probabilities of success, can also be affected.  They also need to build networks of obligations and favours.  They must have reasonable expectations of success if they are to identify with their leaders [a link back to the idea that working class students need to have some probability of success in university entrance if they are to be persuaded to take part].  In this way, but they are socialised into accepting the academic market place and thus to build their own 'ethical [moral?] relation to scientific work' (90).  The ability of more senior members to determine the probabilities of employment obviously depends on whether the market is saturated or not. This is what professors engaged in supervising are actually doing, and not just merely providing intellectual guidance.  They need to restrain their juniors enough to prevent them from emerging as premature rivals, and encourage them enough to show the importance of their own sponsorship.  On rare occasions, this sponsorship can cease to be so important, as in the unusual events of May 1968.

For many participants, these activities are 'the strategies of the habitus…  more unconscious than conscious' (91).  There is no need to actually calculate the best route at all—it just seems natural.  In this way 'capital breeds capital' (91).  The relationships between heads [of studies] and clients simply develop around academic and social power.  This is seen in the sheer numbers of Ph.D. students attracted to prestigious professors and their status—for example Jean Hyppolite [strongly insitutionalised] gets more high status Ph.D. students than Paul Ricoeur [more marginal] (92).  So the position of one's supervisor is the issue rather than just their renown.  The relation is more general rather than just following a specialism, and people are aware that their career is being supervised not just their thesis.  Social affinities are more important than intellectual ones (93).  The choice of topic and of the head to supervise it follow from the same dispositions and are seen as a matter of intellectual and social investment—the '" choice" of heads is also to some extent the relation of capital to capital' (94).  The right choice increases the value of the head too.  Again it is important to be careful with statistical relations here, which often seem based on some cynical calculation or explicit strategy for the actors involved, a ‘naively utilitarian philosophy of (other people's) action' (94).

There can be individual exceptions—the 'brilliant'.  However, these cases complement the usual academic conservatism and can even collude with the value placed on reliability or seriousness, since ultimately the intellectual order itself is still being defended.  Brilliance is a form of [licensed innovation], based on the agreement of limits, including the need to do a thesis and accept the authority of the supervisor, with the implied 'self censorship and obligatory reverence towards masters and the academic profession'(95).  Dependency and the ability to wait is still important, and this explains the delay of vivas until after a certain period: it demonstrates the recognition of the academic order including the institution.  As before, these institutional limits appear as a free choice.  The thesis is really a reward for the expenditure of time.

Time is important for administrators as well, who risk being out of the game for long periods when it comes to accumulating scientific authority, and replace this with their own notions of expenditure of time in meetings and exchanges.  This helps them acquire the symbolic capital of reputation for worthiness, a kind of internal academic authority [so that's why admin takes so much time!].  There are networks of exchanges again, with the ability to jointly supervise being reciprocated, e.g. sharing in the election of candidates for appointments to editorial committees.  Administrative reputation may be as important now as intellectual prestige, especially work on the prestigious committees [in 1980!  Admin offers the only profitable form of career these days!].  Administrative power still appears as secondary however, especially in universities where institutional loyalties tend to be weak.  Administrative orientations are still reflecting the habitus and the opportunities it makes available: there are dispositions behind a bureaucratic career.  Failure to acquire intellectual prestige can lead to a search for compensation following a reduction of profit in science.  Administrative success shows the usual combination of related objective attainments and dispositions.  There are other possibilities such as building a career through trade unionism.

These activities seem natural.  Powerful academics set limits and encourage the ignorance of limits, and this gives academic culture a peculiar appearance as universal and general.  Oblates are especially unlikely to see the institution as responsible for their career, especially if they have become successful, but they are really 'victims of their elite status…  [with] a curious mixture of arrogance and inadequacy…  [a combination of]... egalitarian Jacobinism and academic elitism' (100).  They are particularly likely to deny the influence of institutional power on their performance and show an 'unqualified enthusiasm for distinguished intellectuals’ (100).

The most 'canonical professors' nearly always have or are from families of teachers, another sign of the total support for the institution.  They display the usual relation between choice and objective determinants.  They have shown deep and subtle signs of recognition of academic order, including seriousness and commitment.  Even their brilliance can be seen as a sign of support for the academic life.  Canonical disciplines are embedded in school syllabi and examinations.  Pedagogy for them is mostly about managing examinations, for example when grammarians are able to define 'right and proper' language (101).  They are engaged in the production of textbooks, often in whole series, an activity which represents but disguises academic power.  These textbooks are deliberately pedagogic, often outmoded, objectified or incorporated, featuring old debates and repeated wisdom [Haralambos!].  This is often covered by 'defensive neophobia' (102) as a way to avoid being criticised as outmoded, and as a way of attacking 'pseudo-criticisms' by outsiders.  There is room here for further empirical work exploring the relations between academic production and the reproduction of the canon.

Teachers are reproduced, but there is debate about how best to prepare for research, turning on the value of special short theses, deliberately aimed at training in research rather than the traditional grand academic thesis [I suppose the equivalent these days is the professional doctorate in the UK?].  The shorter theses tend to be more welcomed in science than in classics, and have generally low esteem, as when professors are seen to be 'giving it away liberally' (103).  They also have low market value, because research also has a low status.  They are another example of how academic power can affect the notion of research and its value.  Academic acclaim is still seen as leading to the right 'to legislate in scientific or technical matters' (104), and extends to controlling appointments, funding or 'a  fortiori validation' [he means the validation of theses] (104).  Of course dissent is tolerated, but this only props up 'individual and collective bad faith' (105) [which ignores power and claims that everything is based on academic considerations].  This is seen especially in senior promotions, where passing excessive examinations, usually after having endured a long wait, is still more important than developing scientific methods.

Of course there can be heretics, and these are mostly researchers.  There have been new and peripheral disciplines and new methods as well.  These often gained public renown, often when translated into other languages, and can be responsible for the founding of a whole school with disciples.  This provides them with symbolic capital and a source of social power outside the canon.  It can be a pleasure to escape canonical responsibilities and attract a large audience, allowing heretics to choose their own topics and maybe build up future specialisms rather than focusing on the core of business of devising entrance exams and regulating them.  Sometimes the heretics have had conventional careers too, but have agreed to be excluded from reproduction.  They often find themselves outside the university order, but not outside intellectual life.  Levi Strauss is a good example, with his unusual career which included stays abroad in Brazil and the USA, a period of teaching in France before and after the Liberation, and even some difficulties with conventional universities, especially the Sorbonne, where he was for a while persona non grata.  Heretics often have an elite background, providing them with 'objective security and confidence' (109).  There are closer to being artists rather than classic academics.  There are still organised in hierarchies, though, according to the amounts of scientific or intellectual capital they possess and how this compensates for any missing academic or institutional capital: they are for example often ENS graduates and fairly senior.  As an aside, this example also demonstrates how age can be connected to hierarchies of prestige in subordinate universities, but more a sign of symbolic capital in elite ones, especially if it is connected to journalism.  [This is slightly clearer below when we explore the basis for prestige as a heretic].

The statistical analysis under represents important academic minorities and minority institutions.  These have has an important effect in the French system, especially the 6th Section of the Ecole des Hautes Etudes.  This institution does not partake in the formal system of examinations, attracts lots of visiting professors, often from abroad (less so these days --1980), and pursues long term and collective initiative for research projects in social science 'laboratories'.  It has its own publications.  [It sounds awfully like a rather more high powered and French Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies].  The institution has deliberately invested in its marginal status [deliberately?  Not just a matter of the habitus here then?], seeking out new work and deliberately opening itself to overseas influence, while building up a general loyalty among its participants.  The institution boomed after 1968.  It also developed close links with the press and with publishers to build its symbolic capital.  Members did not engage in so many official bodies, showing either 'lack…  or elective refusal’ [a political matter here in applying these labels – no attempt to show how they might be connected] (111).  The 'structural dissonance' is also displayed in offering seminars rather than lectures, diplomas rather than the aggregation, and awarding degrees based on arrangements with other institutions.  The 6th Section is also fond of the special research thesis.  It is generally open and innovative and in favour of research, but still displays 'bogus, fictitious verbal homage to [conventional academic] values' (112).  Its search for symbolic value has led to a noticeable gap between its aspirations and achievements over the years.  Its innovative and transgressive features are now increasingly compromised by public regulation, and its academic staff are increasingly insecure about abandoning academic values in favour of journalism.  It is open to penetration by journalistic values and is suspected of taking shortcuts, as with the research thesis.  Its esteem is increasingly borrowed from that of great scholars and it is displaying careerism among its staff.

Thus it is possible to see the conflict between priests and heretics, but there is some complicity too, in the construction of 'epistemological pairs’ [convenient opposites like two political parties united in playing the parliamentary game].  All the possibilities are reduced to two polar ones [another thing this reminds me of is the convenient division between quantitative and qualitative methods].  This has produced an apologetic outcome, where tradition is preserved against modernism, and modern innovations are justified by the criticisms of archaism.  The whole debate is still likely to end in 'new academic routine' (113). The main example of this domestication is structuralist semiology, and its 'habit forming popularity' (113) [more below]. 

The oppositions in academic life are neither temporary nor insuperable [fixed in some necessary pattern] .  Rival principles co-exist and are never totally exclusive, and this provides a series of compensations for all those engaged: those falling behind in the competition for intellectual prestige are compensated by being given control over syllabi.  There are several other consolations, all supported by classic bad faith of appearing as choice, whereas in fact they demonstrate 'the rejection of the inaccessible’ (114).  Academics, as with the dominant class in general, are able to feel satisfied and dissatisfied in unusual ways.  They benefit from plural taxonomies, enabling everyone to pose as a unique 'irreplaceable' individual (114).  There are still able to act collectively, however, 'behind a mask of universalist claims', to defend their types of privilege (114).

This is illustrated by the [slightly stylised?] debates between the literary classicist Picard and Barthes.  Underneath, this can be simply read as 'retranslations of the posts held, between literary studies and social science, the Sorbonne and Ecole des Hautes Etudes'(115).  Picard argued for academic tradition against the 'new criticism', which he saw as a mixture of phenomenological, Marxist, structuralist and psychoanalytic elements.  Barthes accused Picard in return as acting as if Marx, Freud and the others had never written anything.  He argued for linguistic rather than philological rules, in other words social sciences rather than philosophy.  The debate divided the traditional canonical academics from the marginals such as Bachelard or Sartre [and lots of others I've never heard of].  All this is entirely predictable 'in advance, by the logic of the field' (116).

Institutions try to solidify the doxa through intellectuals who express 'silent beliefs which have no need for justification' (116).  Such places operate with an ethos rather than a method [like historians do!].  Personnel are content to be prudent, modest, accept the role of functionary, and abase themselves in front of 'the work’.  Such humility leads to self assurance, a confidence in expressing ultimate values of objectivity and good taste which are unquestionable.  They express shock at 'pretenders' (116), just as religious authorities react to the challenge of minor heretics.  Barthes celebrated this prophetic role, and saw himself as political, anti authoritarian, esoteric, scientific, subversive, a 'hermeneutic modernist’ [for Bourdieu], applying new techniques to texts.  He was a chameleon, both a critic and a writer, and thus deploying 'peremptory subjectivism' to 'wash himself clean of the plebeian crime of positivism' (117).  He claimed to be above disciplinary divisions between science and philosophy.  There had been struggles in the past, for example between Durkheim and the old literary Sorbonne, and these acted as a kind of Dreyfus affair or a 1968 crisis, a struggle between the new sciences and the old literary disciplines.  However, the new semiologists were really anti-science and in favour of literary approaches, against 'reductive materialism' [especially Bourdieu’s sociology, it seems] and in favour of scientific rigour combined in some way with 'society elegance of authorial criticism' (118). ['Cultural studies' had the same sort of claims to be above Sociology and Literature, banging on about subjectivism and gramscianism to wash themselves clean of any taint of elitism]. 

The Picard/Barthes debate shows all the dynamics tensions of the academic field, a classic defence of the canon against new approaches and new publics—students, overseas academics, the press, and the 'educated general public' (119).  These new publics now have a decisive role in the struggles, especially through avant-garde movements.  There are alliances between the new publics and lecturers associated with the new disciplines who are aspirational and 'given to adopting the external signs of the intellectual profession and often to be satisfied with facsimiles of the fashionable sciences—semiologists, anthropology, psychoanalysis and Marxology'(119).  There are new publishers, and the barriers between research and journalism have been broken: so too the barriers between middlebrow and avant-garde culture.

These trends have been important in weakening the traditional autonomy of the university.  New mixtures of university culture and media have appeared, such as the new cultural weeklies and other cultural products, often characterised by rapid reaction to events, the absence of academic references, the popularisation of academic work—'cultural contraband' (120).  These products also display lots of networking and the emergence of new dual identities for academics.  The new public practices a 'parasitical power of consecration' (120), where journalists popularise academics and then gain the power to consecrate new ones in this series [the example is given of a journalist who might interview Levi Strauss and Sartre and finds lesser known academics queuing up].

The social sciences have been a 'Trojan horse’ here [powerful critique of tradition lets in the new consecrators—this is also like Bourdieu’s criticism of postmodernism, of course].  Social scientists are often from non elite backgrounds, and find themselves 'doubly subordinate’ in the alternative hierarchies of literary and scientific prestige.  [A Venn diagram on page 122 shows the overlap between the classics and the arts on the one hand and science on the other, leaving social science as 'practical, applied, empirical, impure' compared to those more theoretical and pure alternatives].  Social science in this way becomes a refuge for intellectually average middle class kids [mentioned first in Academic Discourse].  Social scientists are prone to adopt 'scientific syndrome', especially in the attempts in semiology to get profit from a combination of literary and scientific avant-gardism through the 'miraculous' replacement of science: the 'scientific aura of semiology enables the last rampart against despair…  [and]…  cut price conversions [in cultural production]' (122).

Interests are always involved in intellectual disputes, social strategies in discussion of theories and methods.  There is no simple cause and effect link between the exclusion of traditional disciplines and the growth of social sciences, nor the growth of research as a career.  The split in legitimation means that pedagogical concerns [in this case the power to affect teaching and examination?] are behind many 'publications with scholarly pretensions' (123), and personal research is often really about being eligible to engage in the preparation for exams.  Researchers seem to have grown in influence, and teachers to have changed.  Research is more institutionalised now and pedagogy relegated.  New solidarities have arisen to challenge the old professorial body [which traditionally did both research and pedagogy].  New forms of the production of intellectual work and circulation of the results, and new public demand for applied research have led to a 'new kind of cultural producer', breaking with the old academic values of disinterestedness and so on (124). 

There are new academic managers after funds and this has led to neutral and bureaucratic writing to gain respectability and pose as [pedagogic managerial?] science.  Bureaucratic reliability is now important than critical detachment and purely intellectual ambition.  Academic managers mix with new managers and politicians in other areas.  The large academic institutions are run more like quangos or research institutes.  Academic charisma is not possible: instead standardised production techniques dominate over the former system of small producers with personal gifts.  The quantity of output is important rather than the activity of interpretation.  Overall, there is now a 'whole plurality of [academic] worlds’ (125) rather than a unified hierarchy.

So is not surprising to find academic positions are also closely tied to 'political’ dispositions, such as the sides taken in the events of 1968.  Much of the defence of the traditional university is really a defence of the traditional market for products, for statutory guarantees and for the limitation of participants.  This explains the violent reactions to any critique of the university.  Academics have seen the devaluation of their efforts, the emergence of new disciplines [is this the basis of technophobia too?].  Their local monopoly is threatened, and this is led to devaluation, relegation, new reconversions and the emergence of new participants.  Traditional universities are somehow forbidden to change by their own 'statutory grandeur' (127), like aristocrats faced with bourgeois revolutions.  This has produced bitterness from the academic elite, especially those who had been socially mobile and who now see lower returns on their investments, especially if they have worked their way through the normal career: they now see their rivals promoted through the new disciplines, through the importance of research, through fashionable memberships.  They are particularly annoyed by 'the"cheek", often associated with higher social origins, which enabled [their upstart rivals] to take the risk of investment in marginal institutions' (127).

[The last section of this chapter has the sub heading ’the aggiornamento’, which interested me.  When I looked it up, I saw it referred to the reforms introduced to the catholic church by the Second Vatican Council—introduced by the 'adjournment' to canon law made in a speech by the Pope in 1959.  It therefore refers to 'change and open mindedness', but also to an end to the canon, and is another of Bourdieu’s running analogies between the university and the church].

Chapter 4 The Defence of the Corps and the Break in Equilibrium

The old system represented an equilibrium in terms of a useful balance between different kinds of capital, but social changes produced imbalance, especially the increase in the number of students and corresponding changes in the teaching body and the categories or grades of teacher.  A conservative reaction emerged to the internal transformations brought about by these external changes.  Not all the faculties responded in the same way, and not all of them grasped the implications: much discussion still turns on the old oppositions such as that between quality and quantity, the scholar vs. the educational worker, or mass vs. elite systems.  There has been undoubted overcrowding and anonymisation overall, but the effects have been mediated ‘through the specific logic of each field’ (130).  Thus it is wrong to generalise, seeing the growth of administration for example as a result of inevitable bureaucracy.  Instead, it becomes part of the struggle for prestige in the new circumstances.

The expansion of universities led to ‘an accelerated career’ (129).  This has opened a split between graduates of ENS and aggregés.  The majority of the ENS graduates and aggregés in the past taught in lyceés rather than in universities, but both then realised they had a better chance of a career in the university.  The same goes for those holding diplomas in science.  The expansion meant that more people were able to cross the threshold into higher education, and there were signs of a cut in the career wait for a chair, or for a move to Paris.  Gaining a doctorate in middle age also lead to more benefits.  The issue is whether the new entrants were sufficiently adapted to the traditional norms: at professorial level adaptation was easier, but at the subordinate level there were tensions.  Forcing a way into the elite level threatens the reproduction of the professional body.

There are disciplinary differences here, in terms of teacher/student ratios, the absolute numbers involved, the supply of aggrégés, the openness of the professorial bodies to recruiting non aggregés.  The traditional and the new disciplines were so different that two different markets or ‘sub fields’ (136) emerged.  Apart from anything else, this makes it pointless just to aggregate data across the whole sector—for example the value of a diploma is not uniform and constant, and there are different markers of academic prestige.  The value of being an aggregé is weakening except in the traditional disciplines, mostly because the new disciplines do not have a base in secondary schools,  so it is not common to find a reserve of teacher aggregés.

Certain implicit criteria seem to have developed rather than a straightforward and conscious attempt to defend the old ‘social constants’ (137).  Instead, ‘functional substitutions’ have appeared.  In geography, which traditionally attracted low status entrants anyway, there is been a strategy of ‘feminisation or in a widening of the age range’ (138).  Changes in the rates and modal age of marriage increased the availability of women, while the economic and social status of women remained unchanged.  Older teachers in secondary schools were recruited to university positions, providing them with a ‘second chance’ (139).  This strategy is seen as less risky by the traditional disciplines, and recruitment of older candidates was once an established pattern anyway, so there was never much of the gap between secondary teachers and university lecturers, except in the pedagogy they used.  This is a more conservative strategy—the younger ones might have better qualifications, but they would threaten the old guard as ‘obsolescent and devalued’ (140).  The aim was to retain the value of the old qualifications, and for the traditional disciplines, the aggregation system does just that by linking university and school teaching.

The new disciplines were forced to change, partly because they did not have enough aggrégés.  They also had increasing numbers of researchers, growing in importance.  As a result, a generation gap appeared between the old traditional professors and the newcomers.  A marked decline in the traditional routes appears as a result [these comments are supported throughout with reference to  rather slender official data].  We find a greater mixture of academic qualifications, types and levels of education.  The professorial body cannot resystematize.  There have been some attempts to incorporate the researchers, for example by offering the research thesis, and this is helped science stabilize, but not the new disciplines, where aggregation is still seen as an important alternative to the research thesis, especially in social science.  As a result of all the diversity, appointments seem much more ‘subject to arbitrary decisions’ (143), leading to an increasing importance of social relations as much as academic capital.  There is now a ‘virtually random…  relation between characteristics displayed by an individual and the objective characteristics of the post’ (143).  At the personal level, academics now experience ‘anguish’, and saw the need to find a powerful protector.  [We are describing what functionalists would call ‘status incongruency’—waves of something similar occurred in the British teaching profession with the advent of the all-graduate teacher, meaning that junior staff are better qualified than head teachers, at least until the UKOU came along and restored congruency by letting head teachers gain a degree too].

The older form of reproduction [operated like mechanical solidarity] depended on the same people having the same habitus [an ‘academic habitus’ specifically, this time (143)].  This led to unconscious obedience to the ‘laws of the social body’ (143), and the development of a normal career trajectory, reconciling ambitions and opportunities.  The institution offered a combination of the pleasure principle and reality principle [fancy way of saying the point about subjective ambitions were reconciled with objective possibilities].  People were reconciled to exclusion, even those who were excluded but who often kept trying anyway, showing that they accepted the rules of the game [or maybe internalised failure as their own fault all along—the institution cooled them out?].  The disruption that led to a threat produced a collective reproduction of the organisation 'without realizing it'(144).  The 'law of the institution' still prevailed, as an 'intense and durable disposition’ ( 145). 

However, some recruits still lacked an understanding of this law, and experienced a sense of 'false promotion', a sense that their posts were now devalued and no longer connected to expectations of career security.  'Career norms’  were incongruent with 'recruitment norms'(145).  New recruits are therefore split into those with traditional careers and those with subordinate careers.  In this context, academic capital reappeared as important.

These events explain the stance towards reform.  For example, non aggregés want to replace the aggregation, especially if they are young (some of the younger aggregés wanted to do so as well), but those against have other sources of worth.  The older non aggregés hope that growth and administration will provide them with careers.  1968 divided the academic generations despite their similar biological ages, because it brought a greater awareness of some formerly implicit rules.  Making rules explicit offered a threat to the mechanism of reproduction.

Although there are some empirical data to support this connection between age and opinions, statistics alone are misleading here, especially if they imply a 'mechanist or finalist philosophy of action' (147) [the argument here seems to be that this kind of view is a common sense ideological explanation which fills the gap if only statistical relations are demonstrated].  The usual reading suggests that the new developments are a 'products of an aggregate of actions based on the rational calculation of clearly understood self interest', or a simple mandarin conspiracy (148).  But there was no clear awareness of the rules, and no clear lines of power and authority.  There were a number of alternatives as well, such as recruiting female aggregés or older aggregés.  'Mechanism’ can only be a metaphor.  There is no cybernetic machine—this is  'providential myth': where would its consciousness be located?(148). What happened is better seen as the product of a combination of factors [as in some sort of emergent pattern, a figuration?], arising from the orchestration and dispositions in an habitus.  The alternative models are more customary, but sociologists must renew their 'permanent struggle against ordinary language' (149).  This ordinary language approach is enhanced by having to name institutions, which implies that they therefore act as agents, or ascribing responsibility to individual actions.  Ordinary language has normal narratives to explain things, with 'subject oriented sentences' (149).  We can see its power whenever novelists attempt to break the privileged viewpoint of the hero [and some French examples are given].

We need to insist that individuals are 'socialised agents', rather than individual rational actors, and that they have 'transindividual dispositions' which produce collective practices adapted to objective requirements (150).  This happens without calculation or explicit criteria.  There are sets of 'practical selection principles' [the individual and conscious correlates?] Which do have definite effects which are uncovered by statistical relations.  In this case, a 'social conservation instinct' is apparent (150).

We need to take on and refute 'Rational Action Theory'.  The crisis of 1968 is a good example.  There was a definite professorial action to conserve the university, but it was not deliberate or deliberately concerted.  Instead, there was a 'spontaneously orchestrated ensemble of actions inspired by solidarity with an "elite"', an affinity of habitus, a 'diffuse and ungraspable complicity' which then became active and institutionalised (150).  The elites never thought that they would have to defend some order that they regarded as 'natural'.  New leaders had to emerge from management or from the second rank of the profession.  It was administrative experience that helped organisation, and at that stage the appearance of explicit rules and specifications for recruitment.  The explicit planning had an unintended consequence—by abolishing altogether the old system of regulation, the new system also destroyed 'ignorance, or in other words faith', and the necessary 'vagueness' which has an important 'social function' (151).  [Seems like solid Durkheim to me with its insistence on some prior and implicit understanding, which explicit rules and regulations only tap, and often threaten].

The system no longer can claim a sacred status.  The old system had an elite choosing its own replacements, in an necessarily implicit way.  The harmony of interests arose from a simple harmony of habitus.  The new splits between professors and union lecturers have replaced a manageable separation based on age or seniority.  The old separation was minimal, and also legitimate because it was seen as 'unbridgeable' (153), and at least a career was eventually guaranteed.  There was a period of long subordination, but it did lead to the eventual 'plenitude of the professorship' (154).  The main controlling mechanism was based on the regulation of the doctorate, and the need to wait for it, which again spaced out the generations.  [Bourdieu even suggests that it is the need to wait that has determined the 'necessary ' size and scope of the thesis!].  Academics felt a 'sense of legitimate ambition' involving the need to wait and gain qualifications, as a kind of collective intuition.

Now the thesis is 'autonomised’, and has become a mere 'internal promotions test', hence the need to get one as quickly as possible (156).  The new generation realises that, while the old one are still conforming to the idea of patience and waiting.  The newly ambitious recruits are found especially in the new disciplines.  Here, the old norms have not been replaced.  We find much slimmer and more rational theses rather than the old philosophical discourses.  We also find a collective response where the inadequacies of the old regime are exposed, including a new trade union orientation taking on paternalism [actually, 'patriarchal relations'].  The lecturers' interests have become differentiated from those of the professors.  These tensions are often expressed as class or labour struggles, and provide dilemmas for those who choose the trade union route and those who stick to the old route.  There is no possibility of a new order based only on 'pedagogical or scientific productivity’ (158).


Chapter 5 The Critical Moment

May 1968 has produced a lot of commentary, mostly based on wishful thinking and political interpretations.  Topical events are especially profitable to reveal the different markets behind the different accounts.  However, social scientific analysis is rare.  Instead, improvised analyses are more appealing than actual research.  By comparison, analysis often ‘lacks the advantage of the fine clarity of the discourse of good sense, which has no difficulty in being simple, since the premise is to simplify’ (160).  There is often an unwitting commitment to a philosophy of history that says there are privileged moments.  This compares with the scientific ambition to ‘reinsert the extraordinary events into the series of ordinary events’ (161). 

The crisis of 1968 was really ‘an intersection of several partly autonomous series of events arising in several fields pregnant with their own specific determinants’ (161).  The university crisis extended into a general one, showing the relations between the university field and events outside.  The crisis in the reproduction of the university led to a crisis and the whole mode of reproduction, in the education system and in the social system, showing the importance of the education system.  Changes in the education system could be seen as ‘structural “downclassing”’, and it was this that produced the ‘collective disposition to revolt’ (161).  This is to examine exactly how the education crisis went critical.  This requires the existence of other local crises and their integration, not just their addition.  We must see how crises appear in normal events in order to grasp of the uniqueness of this one, where ‘all futures appear possible’ (162).  We require not just theoretical analysis nor just historical description.  There is a danger of misunderstanding and disappointment both for theorists and empiricists [the warning for the former is to stave off lazy theorising, I think (162)].

The first factor was the increase in student numbers, the devaluation of academic diplomas which ensued, and the general downclassing described above.  Education also became connected to the more general public.  A whole disenfranchised generation emerged, felt especially by children from dominant class groups who were unable to convert cultural to academic capital, and could see no secure return for their academic capital.  Some of these were able to bolster their prospects by using their inherited cultural capital, however.  The processes that guaranteed the internalisation of exclusion, and the automatic legitimacy of the system were weakened.  The management of these events varied according to one’s social class: for example, some were able to maintain the value of their diplomas in the market because of market unevenness (164).  But in the longer term, returns to posts were diminishing, and there was more downward mobility as well.  These circumstances led to ‘fantasised alliances’ of the downclassed, and ‘orchestrated reactions to the crisis’ (164).

So it is not just an increase in the size of the student population, more a change in prospects that triggered the crisis.  This explains the focus in universities especially, rather than grandes écoles or preparatory classes.  The traditional disciplines were also less affected.  The greatest effect was found where the university and /or faculty had new entrants who no longer excluded or eliminated themselves.  For men, this was mostly sociology courses, for women psychology.  Both are ill defined in subject career terms and are therefore necessarily indeterminate and vague.

Other variables affected the extension of the crisis into wider society.  The concentration of deprived and disaffected graduates helped.  There was no sign of a class demarcation here, because thwarted intellectuals from all classes felt aggrieved, even when it was schools rather than university qualifications which became the issue.  Anyone who saw themselves as over-qualified felt disaffected [supported hereby some odd data on workers wanting alliances with revolutionary students in 1968, and support for that varying according to qualifications and inversely with age].

Effects did not follow automatically, however, but were mediated through dispositions.  There were different forms of ‘adjustment of hopes, opportunities, of aspirations to accomplishments’, and especially differences in the ‘work of disinvestment’ (166).  The new generations took time to realise their position and how they had become downclassed, and needed a long period of ‘mourning’ before making any adjustment (167).  They never saw the whole picture, and began with interpreting the events through old categories.  They started to individualise, see the changes as fragmentary.  The official bodies, such as careers advisers, those who provided statistics and so on, were also slow to react.  The few successes were still able to preserve the categories of the old system.  There was a willing collaboration in mystification, a general tendency to accept fate, and desperate comparisons made with neighbours:  a classic form of ‘dual consciousness’ affecting the academic (167) [an ability to analyse the situation of everyone else except oneself?].  For a while, the vague new disciplines still had some attraction for students from the dominant class, offering a ‘freedom to defer disinvestment’.  The same attraction existed for ‘ill defined professions – writer or artist’ (168).  These are all ways to ‘escape devaluation’.

The crisis deepened whereever there were ‘maladjusted expectations’ and where there were concentrations of deferring people [which only delayed the crisis] (168).  We can test this by measuring the homogeneity of the position in university, and comparing this with social origins and possession of educational capital.  It is possible to predict that those who are high on the first and low on the second will be vulnerable.  We can see how people are affected by the intensity of the crisis and look at their responses such as ‘postures adopted…  during May ‘68’ (169).  [Flimsy] statistics show a relation, for example according to rates of participation in university elections in 1969 [which marked a return to normality].

The traditional faculties showed levels of overall conservatism.  The new disciplines like sociology faced two converging crisis tendencies.  They tended to attract the vulnerable students described above, and better qualified middle class students without social capital.  They enjoyed rapid growth.  They appointed junior lecturers who were weakly integrated into the university and who had discrepant expectations and opportunities, which led to resentment.  This explains the differential participation in 68 by different sorts of teachers.  Sociologists have high qualifications and high social backgrounds, but low rank.  They enjoyed posing as queen of the sciences, but knew that sociology was ‘also a refuge for…  those who wish to flaunt grand ambitions in theory, in politics and in political theory…  [and are able to get]…  maximum symbolic profit for the cheapest educational entry fee’ (171).  Geography lecturers by comparison were much more corporatist and reformist.

There was a great discrepancy among populations of professors and pupils from ENS, and the growing populations of ‘subordinate teachers and ordinary pupils’ (171).  Junior lecturers felt excluded from chairs if they were not ENS graduates or aggrégés, and therefore felt no identification with the university.  Subordinate students did have higher levels of identification, so for them exclusion meant questioning the whole system.  This is the same as the petty bourgeois becoming the leading edge of general revolutions because of their frustrated expectations.

Sometimes, the dispositions of students and junior lecturers could coincide because of their homologous position in different fields.  This is a major mechanism for the synchronization of the crisis and thus its extension.  Synchronisation occurred with other groups too, especially for the subordinate agents of ‘cultural production and diffusion’ in the media (173).  Historical events often arise from the coincidence of different crises in this way, but the timescales must also relate.  The crisis in the science faculties was actually older than the one in the arts faculties, and there was an old established protest body which played a decisive role [a lecturers’ trade union,  led in this case by the legendary  Alain Geismar, who was actually a lecturer in physics].  This implies the relative autonomy of fields, an ‘independence in dependency’ (174) which meet only where fundamental structures emerge, ‘especially the economic ones’.  This kind of analysis requires that we square the circle of theoretical and empirical history—we have to analyse the [empirical] coincidence of crises [theoretically] latent in each sector or field.  There is an objective orchestration detectable underneath the obvious accidental events, like the emergence of police violence.  This arises from similar dispositions and similar social conditions.  However, even those with dissimilar dispositions can identify with each other, sometimes just tactically (175).

The university crisis spread to the media, where there were similar conditions and contradictions between intellectual creativity and ‘bureaucratic constraints’ (175), producing an ‘anti institutional mood...  constructed essentially’ at university (175). The media did not take up the crisis just out of fashion or through contamination.

The student left had developed a characteristic form of communication—‘”spontaneist” thematics’—best seen as a form of ‘phatic’ communication just intended to be communication, and of course to strengthen the group.  It took the characteristic form of ‘combinations of fragments of diverse discourses’, rather than a straightforward diffusion of learned critiques like Marcuse’s, although these were sometimes simplified (176).  Again, this shows simultaneous invention by  agents with similar dispositions and interests, ‘common generative schemas…  oppositions between invention and routine, liberty and repression…  the individual and the institution’ (176).  These communications were ‘typically heretical’, and based on some ‘universal right of spontaneous expression’ (177) [a bit like talking in tongues?].  There were some ‘obvious links’ among the claims of subordinate intellectuals opposing academic constraints and tradition, and the authority claims of superordinates [arising from an insufficient break with academic values -- mentioned also in The Inheritors]. These claims were especially attractive to those who had not been rewarded for their particular combinations of capitals, especially inherited cultural capital (176).

The crisis extended to activist proletarians largely through the trade union machinery, which was always good at generalising local movements.  The general category invoked was dominant vs. oppressed groups, and this offered a basis for alliance with even distant agents.  Declarations of solidarity were based on an assumption of ‘decisive perspectives…  with the probability of constituting a mobilised and socially active group’ (177-8) [I think the term ‘decisive’ means both distinctive and particularly potent in political terms]. 

The homology of positions masked major differences in this cross class alliance: the perception of one’s own position is always more acute.  There are parallels with the Bolshevik coalitions.  Subordinate intellectuals gain revolutionary awareness of the world outside.  Second rank intellectuals in subordinate positions even develop anti-intellectual elements.  Unequal access to the ‘attributes of legitimate cultural competence’ lead to a revolutionary denunciation of the whole principle of academic authority.  Subordinate intellectuals become spokespersons ‘through this homology of position’ (179).  [Note that homology here is defined as ‘resemblance in difference’ (178)].  Such developments can also be seen through the activities of conventional politicians or trade unionists.  Generally speaking, ‘technician’ academics ally with the stable proletariat, while libertarians speak for the ‘lowest and least organised fractions…  especially the sub proletariat’ (179).

An imaginary solidarity arose from a common structural property.  It was conjunctural, partial and abstract, based on ‘fully imaginary semantic alliances’ between students and workers.  Such alliances can develop better sometimes if there is little actual contact, since contact reveals ‘total persons all of whose practices, discourses and even simple bodily appearance expressed divergent and…  antagonistic systems and dispositions (habitus)’ (180).  [My argument for distance teaching!].

The crisis produces a temporary conjunction in objective time of various social timescales.  Synchronisation can also produce ‘conflicts of legitimacy which often give rise to radical arguments…  and…  agonising revisions’ (180).  This sort of coherence is actually unusual, compared to the usual possible separate positions held successively, as in ‘successive sincerities’ (180).  Those in higher social positions are better able to manage this coherence than their subordinates, and they often adopt an unusually ‘authentic’ stance, based on an ‘explicit ethical imperative’ to be consistent and to display character (181).  Sincerity and authenticity soon produce division ‘into camps as in civil war’, and polarisation rather than ‘multiple partly contradictory memberships’ (181) [which describes the normal state of affairs].  As political consciousness develops, it discourages concessions, compromises and deals, and dispels the vague and ambiguous notion of social relations generally: in particular, repressed feelings appear in open conflict.

The crisis leads to radical questions of the symbolic order, enhanced by extraordinary events outside normal procedures, especially the ‘general assembly’ held at the university itself, which reverses the normal educational relationships, and offers ‘practical transgression of the presuppositions normally objectified’ (182).  Obscure figures emerge as orators and leaders.  Symbolic attacks are made on the symbols of economic power, a ‘magical negation of real social relations…  symbolic fraternization’ (182).  The relation between the social world and internalised perceptions and expectations is broken.  All objective structures and objective opportunities are overthrown.  Gone are the regulations of ‘knowing one’s place’ and investment in careers, all are replaced by the instantaneous moment and an unpredictable future.  [I like all this magical negation stuff, and it reminds me of the classic CCCS work on youth cultures as the magical resolution of social difficulties.  I wonder which one came first?].

The mechanisms of rules and regulations of the academic field reaches awareness.  Again these are differently perceived—it seems to be a greater opportunity for some subordinates, who project their new aspirations on to the old order.  For others, the world is turned upside down—professors listen to students, ‘Cohn- Bendit is interviewed by Sartre’ (183).  This is as destructive as modernization is to older Kabylians [try this link] .  It is literally unbelievable.  One issue which is often discussed is why professors demonstrated with students [reported in the press, cited here as an example of the unbelievable].  In fact junior lecturers mostly were the ones who joined the students.  The professors saw the old conventional order as smashed by the 'irruption of the barbarians' (184).  They tended to restate their experience of the old system as 'evident proof of its excellence' (184), and spoke of education in sacred terms.

The lower the existing investment in the system, the greater number of possibilities that seemed to arise.  For dispositions again affect diverse reactions.  Activities such as demonstrations themselves had effects, suspending normal activities and producing an unusual kind of free time.  Such free time is not seen as a holiday, but as a version of 'festive time', offering another kind of synchronization.  It possessed a vague notion of common time away from normal public time.  There were the familiar mechanisms of the amplification of enjoyment in crowds.  Of course there were still hidden divergences, such as those between the Paris Vanguard and the provincial followers.  There was a general problem to find a form of expression of feeling, so there were clear differences, say from politicians and trade unionists, or slogans as a kind of 'magical denial', and reflecting the cultural emphasis (186) [some were definitely surreal or dadaist to baffle the straioght and annoy the bourgeoisie --'Soyez réalistes...demandez l'impossible!', 'Nous sommes marxistes, pendant Groucho!'].  Clashes emerged in the lecturers' unions between libertarians and communist party militants: neither party offered any real analysis of the universities.  Eventually, it was decided to consolidate gains rather than to further explore contradictions, leading to 'vague and empty slogan[s]' (187).  One was a call for democratic access to universities, and this was vague enough to appeal in a number of ways, including to those who wanted to level down the differences between lecturers and professors [compare with my analysis of the slogan ‘open university’, appealing to radicals and to those who saw an extension of the market].

The public appearance of the crisis, and the frequent public debates helped produce a 'common political problematic' which had the effect of requiring everyone to define themselves according to the positions on offer (187), to take sides, even confess their views in public, the emergence of a single principle to judge oneself and others.  Some were excluded, but there was a general politicisation.  The general emotional excitement produced 'unnatural fraternizations' among participants, leading some individuals inclined to speak for the whole group, for example in memoirs where individual debates with students somehow took on the aura of the struggle with Maoism (188).  The normal ordering between interests and positions disappeared.  The coherence was enhanced by those with lots of cultural capital, and became focused still further on matters like university entrance.  There was some paradoxes too, such as the conversion of some aristocrats, who felt almost forced by the coherence of the event to join in, even when it was against their interests.  In this way, political principles can indeed mediate interests, often in a theoretical way, especially if there is some prior detachment from interests from the disruption produced by the crisis.  Nevertheless, 'primary positions' remain underneath the rationalisations and the 'purely political commitments'(189) [sounds like Hall and Jacques on the sudden enthusiasm for social democracy in the 1980s].

'Context awareness' does vary, and can in some circumstances lead to an awareness of the relation of political views and social position.  Objectified political views are generated by the crisis, but as 'revolutionary enthusiasm’ (190).  The crisis actually has no magic synthesising effects except through this politicisation.  There is no sudden collective awareness.  After all, even revolutionary parties need a lot of work by groups of dedicated agents to generate collective action.  Such organizers were active in the crisis in 1968, and those with verbal or crowd management techniques did well in assemblies: ironically, they had often been trained in conventional political organization already.

The typical style of the discourse of 68 was 'a formidable rhetorical violence', in endless questioning, interruptions, and sloganising.  In practice, 'freedom of speech' meant 'freedom from the speech of others'.  These tactics were often met with 'resigned silence’, by conventional academics and by workers (192).  Spontaneous action still required organisation, headquarters, officials, the organisation of printed documents and so on, and they still needed to relate to specifics.  One version was to organise to produce '"tailor made crises"'[some sort of Trotskyite action to latch on to any specific dispute?].  There is a danger that the crisis will get out of control and threaten those who are trying to organize within it.

However, the 'most durable effect' of the crisis was 'symbolic revolution as profound transformation of styles of thought, life…  and…  every day existence' (193).  This was a kind of spiritual conversion, to a politicised view of academic life in its symbols, to the end of deference, and to particular 'cosmetic and vestimentary habits', to the development of a 'whole lifestyle' (193).  [Yep—it's now 2010 and I still have all of those].

NB Bourdieu refers to 'allodoxia' affecting the context awareness describved above. This seems to be a particular kind of misrecognition arising when people apply the familiar but wrong categories to new events. Examples on the Web decribe it as like ethnocentrism.


Academic perceptions are a euphemised form of social perceptions.  They use the same categories of judgment such as 'servile, vulgar, slow', through 'petty, narrow and mediocre' through to 'having finesse' and 'intelligent'.  There are also a few academic terms, such as 'incomplete', 'methodical' and 'clear'.  All these are personal qualities.  Professors think they should judge dispositions, which are undefinable, but usually appear as a ‘unique combination of lucidity, firmness and strength, of sincerity, facility and expertise, of finesse, subtlety and ingenuity’ (204).  These are very vague adjectives.  They convey little actual information, because they work on the idea of shared information and a familiarity with ordinary language [so a term like ‘vulgar’ is intended to carry an ordinary connotation as well as a specific one].  Academic judgments consecrate the dominant lifestyle.

This consecration is the hidden function of the education system [because academic categories are an homology of the social order].  Specific agents in the education system are also hierarchised, such as primary secondary and higher education teachers, and again the hidden homologies with the social order is euphemised.

Academic judgments are often plainly brutal.  The excuse is that these are applied to the work rather than the person, and that it is all done in the interests of improvement, or strictness appropriate to an elite.  In fact, this produces ‘complacency and freedom in symbolic aggression’ (205).  Academic activity is in effect a ‘collective negation’ [this term is explained in Ch1 above] .  It can be paradoxical, for example when the term 'academic' is used as an insult.

The structure of the academic field is itself responsible for these occurrences.  It features lots of internal divisions and different categories which are never fully codified.  Participants simply need to accept them [as legitimate], hence the need for disguised forms.  Academic classifications seem to be primary but are really social classifications.  Those selected gradually acquire the practical mastery of these classifications, leading to a machine-like objective status for the structures concerned.  These objective structures then become mental structures (207), constantly confirmed, becoming obvious and doxic.

Those classifying believe in what they are doing, on academic or philosophical grounds: they believe they are offering certificates to those who have a suitable philosophical mind.  In fact this is a social judgment, masked by academic or philosophical language, which helps academics deny any social judgments.  This produces considerable symbolic effectiveness, helping to guide people into different strata and academic subjects.  However, it only works if the subjects of the system are already predisposed to see themselves that way.

Euphemism becomes very important in delivering judgments ‘within the limits of academic etiquette and/or prudence’ (208).  Judgments often take the form of offering ‘subordinate’ or ‘minimal’ qualities, ‘which imply the absence of the complementary category’ (209) [so to say someone is hardworking implies that he is definitely not brilliant].  [An example of an unsuccessful reference for admission is given on page 209, which describes the applicant as ‘hardworking, honourable and conscientious’].  These terms function as judgments especially well if they are expressed in some kind of harmony with academic contents, for example literary or philosophical culture.  They can then allude to all sorts of philosophical significance attached to being, say, ordinary rather than aristocratic.  Philosophical culture in particular provides a chance for social judgments to mediate social judgments ‘through the heavens of the philosophical idea’, and thus disguise ‘expressions of class interest’ (210).  [Classic Marxist notion here that philosophers take ordinary categories and dignify and tidy them before returning to apply them to the existing power structure].

Empirical evidence can be found in the obituaries of alumni of the ENS (Ecole Normale Superieure).  There seemed to be close connections between the judgments made in obituaries and those in the academic records of the deceased.  The magnificent diagram, page 212, shows connections, [in the form of a three-way density matrix], between original cultural capital, particular careers, and the terms used in obituaries.  The difficulties of exploring these connections are acknowledged, particularly the absence of data about Parisian or provincial residence.  Sometimes the obituaries note bodily characteristics and accents which appeared in the early careers of the dead, and were responsible for first impressions, although actual social origins are rarely mentioned explicitly.  Bodily characteristics in the overall bodily hexis, ‘provide the system of indices through which class origins are recognized–yet–misconstrued’ (214).  Examples include people having delicate complexions, or being tough, with ‘cast iron constitutions’ (214).  These categories are typical of the obituaries of professors, and further work needs to be done to compare the terms used with obituaries of other people.  Where alumni of ENS have taken other careers for example as diplomats or civil servants, it is common to imply a lesser status compared to academics, and the obituaries often include an explanation as to why the deceased did not become an academic.

There is no ‘mechanical, causal relation between social origins and academic success’ (216).  This is because academic taxonomies are semi autonomous, and because individuals themselves and their motives intertwine with structural determinants, in a ‘dialectic’ (216).  For example, ‘provincials did not want a Paris which did not want them’ (216).  There is therefore a ‘scrambling effect’ between the different components of hierarchisation [these components are ‘institution, place of residence, discipline’, 216].  An important effect is to permit ‘disinvestment, allowing us to convert failure into refusal, and come to terms with abandoned hopes’ (216).  This is clearly seen in obituaries too.

The relations between terms in academic taxonomies are never just logical, because they reflect social judgments [and complexity—the hierarchy of careers is intertwined with the hierarchy of institutions, so that it seems as though ‘each agent found himself objectively situated by the quality of his virtues’ (217)].  It is the same with careers, with ‘the best classified becoming the best classifiers’ (217).  Participants have a vested interest in conforming, and the system rewards ‘adaptable conformist dispositions’ (218).  That is except for the stars—the ‘supreme homage’ in the obituaries is being able to transcend academic categories [with some examples of famous dead academics, 219].

So particular qualities are offered objectively to every participant in the scholarly field, and these qualities have social values attached to them.  The obituaries show these values operating in a unique academic cultural way, stressing such virtues as modesty, or ‘academic asceticism’ (220).  There is a whole hierarchy of intellectual attributes, with pedagogical skills of the lowest level, scholarly qualities such as memory and precision in the middle, and with the dominant virtues rendered as elegance, not being too literal or too specialist.  Any stress on subordinate values is a kind of euphemism again, which also indicates ‘virtues’ of resignation which allow people to 'accept an inferior position without succumbing to…  resentment’ (221).  This is helped by academic disdain towards honours.

The categories indicate the relative autonomy of different strands in the overall field.  These are all ordered around characteristic notions of fulfilment for each level—respect for simplicity in lifestyle for the teacher at the lycee; academic dignity for a teacher in a higher status school preparing pupils for entry to a grande ecole.  The value of modesty is indicated nicely by an obituary of Passeron, who is praised for his appearance as just a simple lorry driver (222)!

These are specific to the professorial stratum rather than the bourgeoisie as a whole, and they arise from the particular positions occupied by professors on hierarchies of economic and political power on the one hand and intellectual authority and prestige on the other: professors are too bourgeois  for the artists, and too intellectual for the bourgeois.  This marginal status produces ‘aristocratic resignation or…  [valuing] satisfactions associated with domestic life’ (223).  There is also a public service ethos, and this can sometimes lead academics into administrative jobs.  When this happens, professors become ‘closer to the senior civil service’, although they still deny this and admire artists and free intellectuals (223) [not these days].  The price of employment in the university is renunciation of intellectual and artistic freedom.  The disdain for honours is a coping strategy – a ‘symbolic reversal of their dispossession’ (223).

Professors are associated with classic cultural products—‘courses, textbooks or doctoral theses’ (224).  These also exhibit the classic contradictions of their location.  These products are caught between the ‘imperative of culture and eclecticism in the Encyclopaedic tradition, and the imperative of originality’ [in the UK, the tension between writing textbooks as a hack, and scholarly monographs as an independent intellectual] (224).  Most of their cultural production is really ‘for the purposes of reproduction’, including pretty direct and simple reproduction (224).  It is not surprising to find professorial work similarly described in euphemisms— from ‘accurate and excellent aids for pupils…  [editorship of a] series… [through]didactic exposition approaching the work of provisional synthesis...[to displays of] wit, finesse, charm’ (225).

So academic life reveals a whole ‘schemata of perception and appreciation’.  This is also applied even to the great works in the tradition, which are reread with the schemata in mind, for example the ‘ordinary and extraordinary interpretations of Heidegger...  [from a position of] aristocratic asceticism [which] flees the flabby vulgar crowds or…  (bad) pupils who have to be endlessly saved from the temptations of society in order to inculcate in them the recognition of true value’ (225) [ In the UK, the great works are currently read through a petty bourgeois schemata, which sees them as a series of banal guidelines for immediate practice].

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NB 'Habitus is a system of shared social dispositions and congitive structures which generates perceptions, appreciations and actions' (N2 p.279)