READING GUIDE to Bourdieu, P.  (2000) Pascalian Meditations, Cambridge: Polity Press

[This has been a real struggle!  I must say I prefer the more applied work on education and leisure, and even some of the more theoretical commentaries on scholasticism and reason are do-able.  But this is very difficult material.  It consists of a series of commentaries on theoretical issues which seem to be raised by Bourdieu’s critics, which is fair enough, but it is written in precisely the kind of charismatic academic discourse that Bourdieu himself has rightly criticised as inaccessible and elitist, probably designed more to support his status than to engage anyone in a debate.  To take one obvious example, this work is riddled with allusions, sometimes signified by the use of Latin terms such as opus operatum.  My schoolboy Latin is sufficient to translate that literally as ‘accomplished work’, but it seems there is also an allusion to Roman Catholic theology, according to the online dictionary of Roman Catholic theology, which implies that the effect of a work, such as a religious ritual, is achieved only when it is finished and not while it is actually going on.  Bourdieu uses the term as a critique of scholasticism which focuses on existing social relations without enquiring into the processes that have produced them—this is either extremely clever and witty, or a pain in the neck, and I still cannot decide which.  The same goes with the frequent references to Pascal, which are explained in general, but, presumably, are intended for those who are fully aware of what a controversial figure Pascal was in French philosophy—and that lets me out.

The same goes with the frequent use of witty chiasms —‘Only when the heritage has taken over the inheritor can the inheritor take over the heritage’ (152).  These might remind the reader that it is impossible to use simple categories to grasp the world, or the things that appear to be separated by scholasticism are in fact joined up, and that we need to insist on such complexity to accurately describe what occurs—the example here might well be the difficulty of telling if people choose their careers or the other way around, which Bourdieu mentions a couple of times here and elsewhere.  At the same time, some of the examples just seem to be designed to resist being pinned down and criticised, as an escape from clarity, or even to demonstrate the witty mastery of the written style that is obligatory with French professors, even where a famous one disagrees with the style. Or all three (doubtless there is a Latin or Greek term which represents three opposed possibilities).

So what I have done here is to vulgarise, no doubt, and, as usual, to pick themes that I think are particularly important.  Among those are the critique of scholasticism, which the poor sod who wrote the publisher’s blurb on the back of the book implies is the main theme, although the summary there actually is only of the first two chapters; the material about the sociology of the body, and its connection with the habitus; the elaboration of the notion of symbolic violence.  Other discussions I have admired but let pass.]


Philosophy is insufficiently critical of its own operations and the effects of its social origins—‘the presuppositions entailed by the situation of skholè, the free time, freed from the urgencies the world, that allows a free and liberating relation to those urgencies and to the world’ (1).  Pascal is one of those critics of philosophy.  He has been more influential than Marx on Bourdieu’s work [no doubt a playful reference to Marx’s own remark about the influence of Hegel].  He has always been critical of scholastic disdain for popular opinion and thought.  The symbolic violence of philosophy needs to be subverted, and its sense of self importance that ‘can regard an academic commentary as a political act or the critique of texts as a feat of resistance’ (2).  Philosophers need to remember that their actual social experience ‘is necessarily partial and local, both geographically and socially’ (3), and that they often unwittingly merely reinforce social and political forces.  Bourdieu thinks that his own marginalised position has helped him develop his own critical perspective, and admits that ‘a degree of personal interest in unveiling (which may well be denounced as denunciation) is no bad thing’ (3).  This has helped to develop a particularly ‘effective form of reflexivity’, which is enhanced if his own work is subject to the same sort of critique (4).  Indeed, Bourdieu has always seen critique as self critique and as a move towards self knowledge, as an objective observer of his own subjectivity, applied especially to situations where he has been a participant.

‘I have always felt some impatience with “puffed up words”’ (4) [why use so many of them then?] (4), and this is led him to insist on empirical observations, coding, or statistical analysis, partly because they re-engaged him in the world.  Empirical backing lies behind most of his assertions.  Most colleagues, however, ‘actively ignore the social world and do not talk about it’ (5), or deny it.  Hence the need to insist, even if this means breaking ranks, and meeting ‘the virtuous indignation of those who reject the very principle of the effort to objectify’ (5), often in the name of some human subjectivity or their own exceptionalism.  However, this arises not from a need to denounce, nor to support some uncritical social determinism—that would be too easy, and would preserve the scholastic game.

He is ‘cursed’ to follow this difficult path [what a fucking hero !], and has often doubted whether it is justified.  This is partly down to a personal anxiety about ‘existing as an intellectual…  I do not like the intellectual in myself, and what may sound…  like anti intellectualism is chiefly directed against the intellectualism…  that remains in me’ (7).  The clarifications that ensue are partly to correct the series of misunderstandings, including the ones about intellectualism and reduction.

If anything, Bourdieu has defended intellectuals, for example against ‘the vestiges of a Marxist vulgate', and against simple dualisms (8).  He has also taken a long time to clarify his own thinking, and now wants to offer ‘a higher level of explicitness and comprehension’ (8) [Jesus!  This is more like an attempt to rehabilitate yourself as a proper French academic?], to clarify his own modus operandi, and explain his choices and interest in explaining the social.

Chapter one: Critique of Scholastic Reason

It is not enough to stay within the realm of thought when one reflects, since basic presuppositions are not questioned, especially ‘the collective history that has produced our categories of thought, and the individual histories through which they have been inculcated in us’ (9).  Thought is best studied by objectifying it, treating it sociologically and historically. Three presuppositions need to be studied in particular.

Philosophical positions are located in social space, including in a sexual division of labour.  They occupy positions in a field, and presuppositions constitute a doxa [a set of taken for granted assumptions that conform to the existing social pattern].  These presuppositions also relates to particular patterns of leisurely contemplation [skholè as above].  Immediate prejudices attached to individuals are easy to criticise, but the doxa is more difficult because it is unanimous and implicit.  Participants are ‘caught up in the game, in the illusion understood as a fundamental belief in the interests of the game and the value of the stakes’ (11).  Participants have learned these special presuppositions on entry, and learned to take them extremely seriously.  The logic of the field gets incorporated as ‘a specific habitus…  a sense of the game…  which is practically never set out or imposed in an explicit way’, and the conversion of the original habitus into this specific one usually takes place ‘insensibly …  gradually, progressively and imperceptibly’ (11).  It would be wrong to see this as an explicit commitment with a specific origin – instead we just ‘embark’, in Pascal’s terms, as a practical entailment rather than a logical implication, as a belief beyond reason.

These conditions are particularly hard to grasp in pure thought, which operates instead with a playful detachment, a series of imaginary variations, which ‘raise problems for the pleasure of solving them, and not because they arise in the world under the pressure of urgency’ (13)—hence the connection between scholasticism and scholastic leisure [skholè].  Scholastic leisure depends on social conditions, a privilege, and indulgence in ‘sport, play, the production and contemplation of works of art and all forms of gratuitous speculation’ (13).  This dependance produces characteristic ‘fallacies typical of ... philosophical thought’ (13).  Universities offer a chance to ‘play seriously’, and those who participate who have come from suitable backgrounds already who do not realise the effects of their situation.  Learning situations transmits ‘the scholastic disposition and the set of propositions contained in the social conditions that make them possible’ (14).  They neutralise the practical, and offer detachment and security, permitting a nice interlude of ‘studentification’ (14).  This stance is perpetuated on entry to a scholarly field, where it develops into a dogmatic doxa, implicit and unconscious fundamental beliefs, ignorant of economic and social conditions, but also ‘triumphant ignorance of that ignorance’ (15).  [There is an aside on the social origins of role distance in Goffman, which is essential to scholastic success, whose exercises ‘demand the capacity to participate simultaneously or successfully in various “mental spaces”’ (17)].

The result is ‘the fundamental ambiguity…  universal acquisitions made accessible by an exclusive privilege’, where detachment from the material is both a liberation and a limitation.  Only those already in the scholastic field can awaken the universal potential and recognise the limits.  The most detached stance is considered to be the most noble, but it is also available only to a few [there is an allusion I think to the role of priests in non industrial societies].  In general, it is no good studying symbolic forms on their own, without looking at their social genesis—as necessity diminishes, intellectual and scholastic activity increases.  The education system develops specifically to permit serious intellectual games, detached from reality and its risks, helping to establish a permanent disposition.

The general scholastic disposition is further differentiated by the increasing autonomy of scholarly fields.  The philosophical field is among the first to achieve autonomy from politics and religion, moving from the limits of myth to the exercise of logical reason and argumentation, and thus a ‘permanent confrontation which progressively took itself as its object’ (18) [compare with Weber on the development of rational theology in protestantism].  Typically scholastic problems arose with later generations, until philosophy became ‘a purely theoretical and abstract activity, increasingly reduced to a discourse, articulated in a technical language reserved for specialists’ (19) [the story of social theory too].  In the Renaissance, further specialisms emerged, leading to a further scholastic turn with philosophy.  Eventually, the economy emerges as an object for specialist discussion, which means that economic matters could be separated from the various other fields, ‘based on the refusal or repression of the elements of productive labour that they implied’ (19). This account differs from [Sartre and] Habermas on transformation of the public space arising from specialist politicians—the wider social processes were equally important.

Scholarly fields were able to build up economic and cultural capital in the form of sales of practical knowledge, and the establishment of licensed competencies.  They also developed autonomous rules and regulations, and profited by extending the ‘various forms (legal, scientific, artistic, etc.) of rationality and universality’ (20).

Symbolic labour emerged as different from simple labour, seen first in painting.  This made an autonomous style of life possible, away from narrow utilitarian ends.  Durkheim shows how this got expressed as an ideal education, initially for the privileged.  Artistic perspective itself  represents the scholastic point of view, with its abstract spectator and its rigid boundaries, its universal viewpoint.  It becomes ‘a point of view on which no point of view can be taken’ (22) [rather like the cinematic gaze: Bourdieu refers to ‘the sovereign gaze’ (23)].  The social and historical genesis of this particular artistic perspective needs to be reconstructed—Bourdieu links it to the development of the notion of a higher pleasure, more distant from the more vulgar pleasures of the body of smell, taste and touch (23), intellectualised pleasure, valuing the abstract over the sensual, the pure, or that which is removed from social processes, nature and the body.  The development of the country park, without any people in it, as a natural landscape is another example, and the same goes with Grand Tour tourism and visits to museums and galleries.

Immersion in the scholastic field also helps develop the idea of a ‘gift’.  This follows from not realizing the social origins of the development of the elect, the academically qualified: the differences are seen as natural.  Heidegger is a good example of a philosophical demand for distance and a denial of social science.  The ordinary world was inauthentic and vulgar, and disciplines that attempted to develop a universal validity failed to realise this inauthenticity.  By contrast, the philosopher of the authentic ‘asserts the aristocratic presuppositions that are implied in an unashamed commitment to the privilege of skholè’ (26), and philosophical insight replaces historical understanding [more on Heidegger follows 27, 28, especially his contempt for statistics, which only studied the average.  Bourdieu argues that the structuralists of the 1960s tried the same trick of using social science to fight off philosophy—more of this in Homo Academicus].  Philosophers need to challenge traditional philosophy, but without calling the whole exercise into doubt [this seems a bit like my complaint that social comment is suddenly introduced in the middle of linguistic philosophy, in the work of Barthes, for example]. 

The full recognition of social determination of philosophy will actually help develop it.  As it is, philosophers are professionally committed to critiquing social sciences and their scientific ambitions – social science is denounced as an effect of language, motivated only by a will to power.  This can actually restore prerational conservatism in the name of 'the subject'.  However, philosophy should be encouraged to examine its own dispositions and beliefs, and how they came to be seen as properly philosophical, and how the arbitrary elements might be removed.  The influence of universities in particular might be examined, how they have influenced the canon, structured things in ‘couples of antithetical terms’, really an effect of the divisions in scientific fields rather than anything deep like ‘”the binary oppositions of western metaphysics”’ (30).  Examining social origins would be real radical doubt, questioning the scholastic illusion that dominates French philosophy, including its claim to be queen of the sciences.  It would also offer an explanation for the so called errors of philosophy discussed by philosophers, such as examining the role of practice in differing definitions, or distinguishing between theoretical and practical knowledge: all these are seen as options in the scholastic language game, but are really founded in the logic of practice of ordinary language.  Scholastic reason needs to be critiqued.  The gulf between philosophical reason and the logic of practice can be better explained by abandoning the scholastic illusion.

Postscript 1

In case this analysis looks brutal, Bourdieu intends to reflect on his own philosophical apprenticeship, but not in the usual egoistic way.  There is a need to break with ‘the self indulgence of nostalgic evocations’ in favour of developing ‘the collective privacy of common experiences’ (34).  Bourdieu’s reflections began with leaving behind his oblate’s loyalties.  On entering ENS, he encountered various rites in order to become a philosopher, but that followed a long process of matching his ambitions with the requirements of the School.  Philosophy was seen as the peak of the professions, and the process of becoming a philosopher was rather similar to being consecrated, ‘a manifestation of status based assurance which reinforced that assurance (or arrogance)’ (35). 

The philosopher was supposed to be a ‘total intellectual’, and preparatory classes reflected that.  Philosophical improvisation was required, ‘reflection without historical basis…  professorial aristocracism’ (36) the construction of a nobility, a rejection of specialism.   ‘Caste dignity’ prevailed over mere competence, combined with a preference for particularly obscure texts and theses, and an awareness of implicit hierarchies.  None of this was particularly deliberately strategic or calculating, but really a matter of committing to the game.

The philosophical nobility shared an esprit de corps, despite their claims to uniqueness.  The collective side of philosophy including developing ‘a profound homogeneity of problems, themes and schemes of thought’ [with examples including Derrida borrowing deconstruction from Bachelard on the epistemological break, 38],which develops from these rites and institutions.  Shared understandings also lead to the notion of opposed positions which developed in the 1960s and really turned on who should inherit the most prestigious positions.  Canguilhem played a major part in these developments, as both a well-established figure and a person who inspired some of the critics like Althusser and Foucault.  Sartre split the field, and was opposed by a coalition of outsiders and marginals [and Bourdieu].  Various authors including Heidegger and Husserl were seen as serious and rigorous thinkers offering a science, while other splits opened between classically French routes and a more ‘international and transdisciplinary culture’ (39). 

These complexities can be seen as either a continuity or break, but even the most radical ‘still bear the marks of the hierarchy’ of persons and institutions (40), and all were united in resisting social sciences which would undermine their autonomy, even while ‘they were discreetly appropriating a number of their achievements’ (40).  This involved defending the subject against the anti humanism of Durkheimian social science. Much of it took place in the enclosed world of the ENS. 

American universities are able to preserve their privileged  position even on the outskirts of large cities.  In the best example, the University of California Santa Cruz, ‘an archipelago of colleges scattered through a forest and communicating only through the Internet’, postmodernism developed particularly well (41).  In general, separation always encourages the scholastic view, despite ‘pathetic and ephemeral’ attempts to reconnect with the social world (42).  Bourdieu’s own reconnection arose from his ‘forced stay in Algeria’ and from his long dissatisfaction with philosophy.

Postscript 2 Forgetting History

Kant divides the different university faculties according to whether their authority is directly supported by the temporal powers, or just by argument.  Philosophy lacks temporal authority, and so is ‘forced to make a theoretical virtue out of a historical necessity…  It claims to found itself in (pure) reason’ (43).  Philosophy is based on the person of the philosopher, ‘the “subject” par excellence’ (43).  Only philosophers are allowed to do the history of philosophy, for fear that profane histories will result—it becomes a matter of texts which lead to each other, regardless of any ‘field of production and through it… [knowledge of] a historical society’ (44).  The same goes for various philosophical solutions, visions, academic convictions or systems, whose history is usually based on the systems of Kant, Hegel or Heidegger.  Necessarily, empirical history is replaced with some ‘transcendental genesis’ of ideas and reason: earlier philosophies can then be understood as ‘essential options…  of which critical philosophy deduces the possibility (45) [this reminds me of how Gramsci somehow completes the flaws in 'earlier' work llike Althusser's]. 

This strange history can only be written backwards, and does not have a genesis itself.  It acts as a philosophical archaeology.  In Hegel, it becomes the end of history as well.  In this way, actual history becomes ‘an immense course in philosophy’ (46).  The development of rationality itself takes precedence over any mere social history—the past is rescued and integrated into ever improving schemes, with progress determined only by the development of Mind, or the Idea.  Naturally, scholars and professors are the guardians of this history, expressed in Heidegger’s appropriation of philosophical commentary as an unveiling of the ‘history of Being’ (47).

These tendencies are acquired and reinforced by the academy, and clearly connected to social interests.  There are countervailing tendencies, such as Spinoza’s request for a genuinely historical analysis of the Books of the [Biblical] Prophets, a ‘magnificently sacrilegious programme’, long overdue for philosophical texts.  [Spinoza’s programme is described as trying to determine ‘not only “the life, the conduct and the studies of the author of each book, who he was what was the occasion, and the epoch of his writing, whom did he write for, and in what language” but also “into whose hands it fell…  by whose advice it was received into the Bible, and…  how all the books now universally recognized as sacred, were united into a single whole’ (47)] [I would also love to do this for the canonical works of English literature].

Chapter 2 The Three Forms of Scholastic Fallacy

This is to be an epistemological analysis not a political one, concerning how scholasticism entered knowledge, ethics and aesthetics as areas of practice.  Three kinds of fallacy have resulted, all based on: ‘the universalising of a particular case…  favoured and authorised by a particular social condition and…  forgetting all repression of the social conditions of possibility’ (50).  This involves us in looking at the logic of practice, the reverse of the usual philosophical process of abstraction, seeing scholasticism as building on practical understanding.  The misunderstandings of abstraction are particularly acute when socially distant people are to be understood, as in ethnocentrism: their logic of practice is seen either as a subcategory of scholastic models, or as radically other, barbarous or vulgar.  Usually, it is the former in ethnology, where cultural superiority is forbidden.

It is our own practical experience that is also misunderstood and replaced with abstraction, usually by imposing a model of the reflective subject, as in phenomenology.  This seems entirely natural to scholasticism which then has to reconstruct practical logic as in ‘spontaneous theories’, in ethnomethodology, or ‘thick description’ (52).  [In the latter example, Geertz’s famous reconstruction of the Balinese cockfight and its symbolic significance involves creating ‘the Balinese with a hermeneutic and aesthetic gaze which is none other than his own’ (52).It follows that for him, social reality is best described as a text!].  This is idealist anthropology, assuming the same relation between practice and the world as scholasticism, installing some ‘metadiscourse…  at the origin of discourse, or…  rules…  at the origin of practices’ (53).  Agents are assumed to be as interested in these ‘pure’ topics as scholars [lectors], to go around interpreting every possible understanding, recreating their culture as scholars do.  What results is an opus operatum [see above], a corpus of completed works, a product whose process is not studied.  In this way, the effects of dispositions, ‘of practical sense’ in this case, and their actions is missed (54).

At least sociologists commonly encounter these problems of relationships between scholarly and practical stances when they do mundane things like conduct an interview.  The relationships have to be theorised, although even here analysis largely ignores the practical point of view.  There has to be an illusion of participation, or a role played by native translators.  Sociologists’ own practice is even less frequently studied.  We have to place ourselves in the point of view of agents through a theoretical and empirical effort, to see what goes on as ‘oriented strategies (and not rules) aimed at maximising the material and symbolic profits’ (55).  Symbolic systems in particular are not just coherent grammars, but also have a practical dimension—they have to be ‘economical, easy to use and turned towards practical ends, towards the realization of wishes, desires, often vital ones, for the individual and above all for the group’ (55). 

These practical activities cannot be understood as ‘simple misfirings of the mythic algebra’ (55), but are necessary to overcome ambiguity, polysemy and indeterminacy.  [An example of a Kabylian ritual ensues, 56, which would reinforce  De Certeau’s criticism of wilful obscurity].  Practical logic produces a coherence, and outside understandings, such as imposing an objective sequence, can misunderstand this—the example here is the sequence which follows after one has received a gift [discussed at more length later on].  Coherence is introduced through ‘analogical practice founded on the transfer of schemes  practical generalisation…  linked by a more or less observable “family likeness”’ (57).  Modern thinkers do this too.

Sociological surveys repeat this scholastic misunderstanding.  Sociological language is only partly independent of ordinary language, which leads to particular confusions of translation.  ‘Deprived agents’ in particular experience deep frustration when they imagine that ordinary terms such as ‘complaint’ are the same as legal ones or official ones, or medical ones.  Here a scholastic frontier is being crossed.  This is sometimes covered in sociology simply by assuming respondents can ask themselves sociological questions—‘”Do you think social classes exist?”’ (59), or yes/no alternatives to scholastic questions, and these are never normally posed and impossible to understand unless you adopt a scholastic perspective, but treated as serious data nonetheless.  Simple surveys were abandoned in The Weight of the World, where the scholars’ perspective was not treated as a universal disposition.  Instead, respondents themselves were helped towards ‘self understanding and self knowledge’ (60).

Scholasticism affects linguistics and above all economics as well.  The scholastic viewpoint credits agents with scientific reasoning, and assumes that scientific constructs, despite being worked up after the event and after lengthy experience, are the actual principles of practice.

In reply to critics, many simple denunciations and labels have been attached to this approach, sometimes from ambitious young scholars.  Nearly all of them are from an abstract and scholastic point of view, involving intellectual sources of various kinds, or links with earlier work to deny originality [the example of habitus is mentioned here, and the trick is to show lots of earlier uses to deny Bourdieu any originality.  Pascal is quoted in defence, arguing that the full elaboration of the term makes as much difference as original coinage—maybe!  (62)].  These critics really follow a classic scholastic agenda to make texts coherent rather than to do anything useful to answer the original theoretical or empirical problems, such as overcoming stale binaries [structuralism vs. phenomenology is the example given.  The stale binaries live on in methodology sections of EdDs!]  They focus on products not processes.

The ‘notion of strategy’ is an example (63).  Bourdieu intended it to break with the idea of rules and determining structures [as above], but he was accused of incoherence because strategy also implies subjective intention.  This was, however, a ‘conscious and controlled ambiguity in order to move beyond the alternatives of consciousness and the unconscious’ (63).  Searching for scholastic coherence simply reduces ambiguities to [verbal] contradictions, and ignores the critical work intended [further examples on 64].  The same goes with habitus, intended to critique rational calculation as the guiding principle of action, mechanistic philosophies, and atomistic psychology, as well as Kantian distinctions of taste.  The habitus was never seen as monolithic, as the Algerian work indicates—‘cleft, tormented habitus bearing in the form of tensions and contradictions the mark of the contradictory conditions of formation of which they are the product’ (64).  Nor is habitus immutable inexorable or exclusive.  Indeed, its characteristics, whether systematic, fully rational or not, can [only] be explained empirically by looking at social conditions which produce dispositions and implement them.  Critics have been motivated by malice and competitiveness, as well as the dispositions of the scholastic world view.  Replying to the latter helps extend the analysis.

‘To grant “humanity” to all, but in a purely formal way, is to exclude from it, under an appearance of humanism, those who are deprived of the means of realising it’ (65).  This is what afflicts Habermas’s notion of the public sphere and rational consensus in communicative action.  Cognitive interests are always rooted in social interests, so that arguments rapidly become matters of force and domination.  The ‘generative formula’ of Habermas’s work, despite its specificity, needs to be contrasted with experience.  As it is, politics is reduced to ethics, and political power to communication, with no understanding of how the communicative ethic is actually to be realised.  Access to the political sphere is severely limited by discrimination, as well as the scholastic ways that political questions are put, even in opinion polls.  Despite formal universality, participation still requires an ‘invisible property qualification’, although this can hardly be recognized officially (67).  Educational capital, then cultural and economic capital, clearly affects the ability to interpret questions and make judgements.  Yet most political philosophy makes some rationalist assumption of universal aptitude.

This universalist assumption arises from an early  challenge to the Church by ‘small independent cultural producers’ (68).  Later politicians assumed that compulsory schooling was required in order to develop judgment, but this is now forgotten by modern democrats who assume that everyone applies explicit political principles to political problems.  This lies behind the idea that people must have ‘personal opinions’, an idea that is defended vigorously in the name of democracy.  In practice, there is no equal access to the means to develop political opinions—this is an ‘intellectualist illusion’ (69), supported by the cult of the person.

This emphasis on personal opinion is usually contrasted with what is impersonal, common, trivial, or borrowed and ‘is at the heart of the ethical and aesthetic doxa which underlies academic judgments’ (69), and indeed the whole symbolic order with the rare and distinguished etc on the one hand and the common and banal etc. on the other.  The same goes with ‘enlightened economic choice’ : the ability to make one has been linked with a certain level of economic security (in the work on Algeria).  Without remembering these historical and social conditions, we are in danger of endorsing ‘the monopoly of the universal’ (70), an abstract universalism which justifies the established order.  To advocate it seems generous and democratic.  The education system is one of the worst examples of this ‘epistemocatic sociodicy’ (71).  In the international dimension, some societies are able to impose their views masquerading as universal, and the excluded are seen as natural inferiors.  Racism is the extreme example (72).

However, cynical rejection of the universal, in the name of relativism, is even more dangerous because it seems more radical.  What must be defended is the ‘modicum of reason’, a ‘realpolitik of reason’ (73), rather than an imaginary politics of rational dialogue.

Aesthetic universalism as in Kant also avoids the social conditions of aesthetic judgments.  Pure pleasure is for the privileged.  It also depends on an autonomous artistic field, free from economic and social constraints, and developing art for art’s sake.  There needs to be people who can specialise in developing a suitably pure disposition.  [Bourdieu says the same conditions affect the emergence of the autonomous notion of economics]. The empirical evidence quite clearly shows that, for example visiting a museum or gallery is related to the level of education, and is available mostly to privileged minorities.  Again, an abstract universalism sees access as a universal right, but does nothing to change social conditions.  Universal specialists see no need to do so, and even the excluded have often internalised their disadvantage.

Advocates of the value of popular culture also express a scholastic illusion, one which ‘is not accompanied by the slightest real intention of universalising these conditions of possibility…  [It]…  is granted…  fictitiously and only on paper’ (75) [invoked as a political gesture of abstract solidarity in my view].  It is understandable that people want to rehabilitate popular taste, and he has done it himself, so has Labov.  However, popular language might be vivid and colourful but is of no value ‘on the educational markets and all similar social situations, starting with recruitment interviews.  The social world, with its hierarchies which are not so easily relativised, is not relativist’ (76).  Often, the cult of popular culture is a mere inversion of official values, which only confines the working class into its existing position, leaving things as they are.  Cultural policies are similarly hypocritical—by offering condescending respect, where ‘cultural particularities…  that are largely imposed and suffered…  are thereby redefined as choices’ [and the example here is conservative versions of ‘”respect for difference”’ (76)].  Alternatively, the same demands are imposed, as in the education system, with no equalisation of the means to satisfy them, hence legitimating inequality through symbolic violence.  In modern societies, all the education system does is destroy traditional culture ‘with the collaboration of the mass media—without being capable of giving broad access to the central culture’ (77).  Ironically, attacks on such universalism are sometimes seen as ‘particularist dissidence’ (77) [me insisting that the alleged universal judgments of Exeter University should be resisted!]

Thus universal aesthetic judgments are connected to privilege.  Kant’s Critique also ‘conceals a hidden discourse, that of the scholastic unconscious’, which expresses the horror of “barbarous taste”’, including bodily tastes.  The growth of universal reason also depends on the growth of privileged minorities.  The inherent ambiguity is apparent in the strange judgments condemning domestic vulgarity, but at the smae time extending universal generosity towards ‘humanity’.  [An historical example relating to the French revolution follows. in Harris ( 1992), I quote Ehrenreich's comment about how the New Left forgive everyone but their own working class].

The Enlightenment brought with it a ‘fanaticism of the universal’, capable of violence towards alternatives, and made possible by privilege ‘that is not aware of itself—reason contains the potentiality of an abuse of power’ (78), implicated with domination through the education system.  Reason comes to offer itself as a source of cultural and social capital, as a source of symbolic profit and as ‘the supreme form of legitimation…  legal or mathematical formalization…  can give the air of the most irresistible universality to the most arbitrary content’ (78) [and the idealistic philosophy of Rawls is criticised here, 79, for reducing politics to a question of rational ethics].

The State nobility claims that competence is its legitimation, based on educational diplomas, and gained by ‘gift’ and justified by ‘the racism of intelligence’, which sees failure and poverty as a result of stupidity (18).  It is necessary to defend intellectual activity, to redress unequal distribution of social conditions, and increase genuine access ‘to all the instruments of production and consumption of the historical achievements that the logic of the internal struggles of the scholastic fields institutes as universal’ (80).  Practical reason needs to be reinstated and the old division between theory and practice undermined.  Appropriate practice is knowledge, and is reflective.  Practical sensibility always implies intellectual capacity.  We need to develop ‘the reasonable’, without exalting practice or populism, acknowledging ‘the plurality of the forms of “intelligence”’ (81) [blimey—not bourgeois notions of multiple intelligence, surely? These offer precisely the sort of consolatory relativism he criticises earlier].

Practical reason has always been seen as threatening to philosophers, who tend, like Husserl, to demean it as mere habit, as too passive and conservative to be proper knowledge.  Oddly, conservative thinkers have done most to rehabilitate tradition against reason.  The distinction between theory and practice shows that ‘the whole social order is present in the very way that we think about that [opposition]’ (83).  Anthropology offers the best chance to understand practical knowledge, and to avoid any absolute starting position somehow outside history and society.  There is no denying that classic rationality has become decisive [in social change], because ‘the form par excellence of symbolic violence is the power which…  is exercised through rational communication’ (83), since the dominated find it impossible to resist.  Rationalised forms of domination are likely to increase.  Social sciences will have to decide ‘which side they are on', using reason to expose or deepen domination.  Universalising access to reason begins with critiquing abstraction from social conditions.

Postscript How to Read an Author

[I have serious limits here, since this is Bourdieu referring to Baudelaire and his relation to the canon.  I am way out of my depth!]

Baudelaire’s work has been canonised, dehistoricised and derealised, as is common with all the classics.  This partly accounts for the claim that we can see them as somehow immediately understandable, as our contemporaries.  In fact, the social context is usually completely different.  In the case of Baudelaire, his work completely revolutionised the literary field in order to create the one we know now.  He is categories of perception are the normal ones for us, and his break with tradition is now routine for anyone’s celebrating ‘the academic cult of anti academicism’ (86).  Restoring the social context in this case would not be reductive, but would help us to grasp singularity.  We should do this not by accumulating ‘a rhapsody of small details collected without any principle of relevance’, but rather by examining ‘real interactions with writers or artists actually encountered’ (86). Baudelaire himself suggested this is the way forward rather than an excessively academic one through  ‘the “academic eye” (87), which only confuses the perspective of the writer with the perspective of the academic,  which domesticates revolutionary writing.

An example of a suitable reading of Baudelaire’s text follows, based on a commentary, and designed to ‘reactivate the quite extraordinary violence of this text’ (88).  The principle of a good reading apparently is to ‘put oneself in the place of the author…  [by constructing]...  a position in the social space that is nothing other than the literary field within which the author is situated’ (88).  It then becomes possible to share the author’s life and expose their typical strategies, which produced the work in a ‘space of artistic (poetic) possibilities’ (89).  In Baudelaire’s case there was a struggle going on between autonomous ‘pure’ poetry of individual feeling and experience, vs. modern poetry ‘more open to the world’ (89).  Baudelaire refuses this opposition, and develops ‘a hitherto impossible position’ (90), and displays the resulting ‘high tension’.  Understanding this requires a knowledge of the whole space, and seeing the result is a battle, an enterprise risking ruin, a claim that sparked should refuse ‘moral exemplarity’ (91).  Baudelaire’s position develops through his own literary and art criticism, which also offered a break with tradition, partly insisting that the critic could also be a poet.  He was not always successful in this critical enterprise faith.  His personal struggle to break from the artistic field can no doubt be explained by various personal sufferings and his rejection of the social order, hence his approach ‘generating an extraordinary tension and violence’ (92).  Bourdieu believes that this is the way we should read all similar revolutionary authors, who have struggled to construct a new position which they then attempt to bring into existence.

[I must say I was reminded of that discussion of the epistemological break in Marxism, and how the early work constructed the possibility for the later.  Classically, the process itself is not well described, of course—it is a moment of inspiration, a lightning flash that illuminates a dark continent and all that stuff! Having said that I cannot say I am that impressed by this reading. It seems a bit of a cliche to argue that creative geniuses are revolutionaries, somehow both part of their context and yet breaking out of it. This is the sort of thing that led to my abandoning EngLit in despair! Also – where is the detailed discussion of the ‘practical’, ‘bodily’ and contextual knowledge that informed Baudelaire – or are literary geniuses exempt? Finally, it seems the focus is on the author’s intended meanings here and that Bourdieu is trying to recover subjective meaning by building an ideal type of the author as in Hirsch –very limited ( see file)]

Chapter 3 The Historicity of Reason

Sociology attempts to apply universal and objective analysis to historical and relative discourses.  Historicising arguments is a good critical technique against absolutism, but reason itself needs to be historicised, especially in the critique of foundations.

Pascal argues that there is no rational basis to the law, but only custom and arbitrariness.  This is covered by 'genesis amnesia' (94), and mythical accounts such as original contracts.  Philosophers commonly criticise such myths, as in projects to initiate radical doubt, but refrain from doing so when it comes to politics.  The arbitrary foundation of law is ever present, however, seen in the occasional constitutional crisis, the use of open violence by the state, or the occasional demonstration of potential armed force such as in military parades.

All intellectual fields also have an arbitrary starting point, a nomos ['better rendered as "constitution", a term which better recalls the arbitrary acts of institution, or as "principle of vision and division", which is closer to the etymology'  (96)].  Such an organising principle cannot be related to the laws of other fields necessarily, but stands alone, [as in art for art's sake].  No external viewpoint is possible, and therefore no critique—agents simply take part in ways which are little understood by outsiders [the example of Baudelaire and his desperate risks is a good example].

Certain characteristics follow for 'commonsense', as genuinely common ground, offering a stock of self evident propositions, especially 'principles of classification', and especially those that organise the social order.  The classifications allow individuals to take opposite positions, such as 'impolite… vs... unpretentious' (98).  These commonalities are often introduced and reinforced by educational institutions.

Autonomous fields offered differentiated perspectives, 'a plurality of representations that are socially recognised that are partially irreducible to each other…  although they have in common a claim to universality' (99).  It is similar to the notion of a language game.  Structures of thoughts follow structures of the field, institutionalised in the habitus.  Specific fields have their own specific habitus, and this has to be learned and accepted by newcomers—which means they must already have a congruent habitus.  For this is what becomes important on recruitment—whether or not candidates can 'become "one of us"' (100).

Particular dispositions sometimes require specific competencies, such as the ability to spot the features and generate genres of particular artistic or sporting products [and the notion of a paradigm is cited here].  For categories often are found in opposing terms which structure positions taken.  They are often social oppositions too.  They regulate what is acceptable or unthinkable.  Particularly revolutionary contributors are able to overturn them, but normally oppositions become 'consecrated…  inscribed in the nature of things' (101).  Outsiders can often see that meanings of individual terms depends entirely on the opposing one, however, as a 'rationalised inversion’.  In contemporary sociology these include 'individual and society, consensus and conflict, consent and constraints,…  structure and agency' (101), and explains the divisions between all the schools and isms.

Participants have to adhere to the nomos, especially in the form of an illusio, a specific form of belief which 'presupposes suspension of the objectives of ordinary existence in favour of new stakes, posited and produced by the game itself' (101), and operating as a deeper visceral level, often beneath the explicit consciousness, and implicit in the arguments in the field, displayed in 'action, or routine, things that are done, and that I have done because they are things that one does and that have always been done that way' (102).  Philosophers want to see these as mere illusions which should be abandoned as distractions, but participants are unable to discuss this possibility.

As autonomous fields develop, they move from mechanical solidarity to more differentiation through to organic solidarity [Bourdieu actually uses these terms].  Power becomes differentiated and dispersed, just as Foucault suggests.  Some autonomy develops compared to the political and economic levels.  Participants are both united and in competition in organic solidarity, especially when they are trying to gain the best returns for their capital.  Outside bodies can sometimes take advantage of these internal divisions, as in some examples of apparent class struggle, where fractions of the dominant groups form alliances with the dominated, and do so in the name of the universal.

There is no single hierarchy, nor a simple tyranny, despite occasional direct interference by political or economic groups.  However, force nearly always requires legitimation and recognition, which means it cannot be openly exercised and must work through an apparent independence.  The more transparent devices are the least legitimate.  This requires the expenditure of force to gain recognition, symbolic labour to produce law.  However, autonomy can also lead to rebellion [some really obscure law and order examples are given here, including some from '12th century Bologna' (105)].  Artists are particularly useful, but also likely to be revolutionary and subversive—hence the cost of domesticating them, and the risks, increase.  Crises are also likely to develop in situations of declassing [as in the events of 1968, see Homo Academicus].  Occasionally, professionals attempt to universalize and thus legitimise political discourse again, mostly by attempting to install their particular kind of capital as the universal one.

Social sciences need to attempt to explain their own genesis, and the genesis of scholastic fields.  This involves 'reflexive mastery' of their own history (107).  There are no logical foundations, nor is there complete relativism.  There is no need to choose between Habermas and Foucault, between a rational communication on the one hand and an analysis of power and domination on the other, between universal rationality and the struggle for power.  Nor is postmodern antifoundationalism  appropriate if it does not deconstruct itself.  Modern philosophers are merely trying to escape critique by their flexibility [a really bitchy bit on page 108].

These philosophical positions simply reflect the social divisions of scholarly fields, and represent illusory alternatives and 'totally arbitrary dilemma[s]' (108).  There is an aristocratic option, where a philosopher sees 'intellectual salvation only in his singular lucidity', or a ‘scholastic fetishism’ insisting on fully autonomous texts as the unit of analysis [and the example here seems to allude to the notion of gender as performance] (108).  Social constructs cannot be destroyed just by deconstruction—this ignores 'the objectivity of institutions, that is to say of things and bodies'(108).

Reason is historical, but it is not reducible to history, and it has become increasingly independent from history.  This took place thanks to the development of ‘scholastic distance from necessity and urgency’ (109), where the logical relations between terms could develop, and arguments emerge as crucial.  Of course, more mundane motives remain [and the example here is plagiarism].  We are still far away from the idealised exchange based on pursuit of the better argument in Habermas, or idealised notions of the scientific community, but nor can knowledge simply be reduced to power play.  Reason is socially supported in particular areas and fields.  Just like those other fields, science is also influenced by competition and symbolic power, but argumentational constraints are also important, giving an ambiguous status to the field.  Of course, successful scientific constructs are supported by social and symbolic dimensions, but academic norms regulate developments in the end, in the form of ‘the test of coherence and the verdict of experiment’ (111).  Thus, ‘epistemic absolutism and irrationalist relativism’ can be rejected (111).  [Rather weak argument here—all this arises from  ‘simple observation of the scientific world…  [which]…  forces one to adhere to a critical and reflective realism’ (111).

Sociological reductionism is inappropriate, given this ‘intrinsic duality’ (111).  Individual investments become regulated and shaped by the field and its constraints. These are not necessarily explicit rules, but are found in the procedures regulating entry, the mechanisms of the field, and the dispositions of the agents, for example to develop their own problems instead of taking them from outside.  Over time, specialism develops, and greater competition for entry and full recognition.  As scientific capital increases, the stakes get higher.  There is also a drift from objective reality to acceptable representations and their development and coherence.  In science, these still have to be realistic however, ‘grounded in a “reality” endowed with all the means of imposing its verdict’, although there is still the ‘invisible force of the orchestration of habitus’ (113).  These constraints permit development of the symbolic system in ways which are ‘both logical and social’ (113), although this takes the form of ‘the experience of the transcendence of scientific objects' (113).  Mathematics adds to this powerful sense of illusio.  This experience of transcendence and necessity explains the ‘Platonic illusion of the autonomy of the world of ideas’ (114).

The social sciences have no foundation and therefore must accept themselves as historical.  We must resist the temptation to replace God with some transcendent subject or original cause, and instead see developments as emerging from ‘the relationship between a habitus and a field’ (115).  [The rejection of both naive realism and relativism follows as above].  The growth of specialism is not the unfolding of a particular chain of reasoning, and nor is it a sequence of accidents.  It is the product of the logic of the field—a series of possible positions perceived in different ways by particular agents, sometimes as constraint, and sometimes as opportunity to develop ‘a more complex structure’ (116). 

This position has been seen as arising more from an ethical commitment to the notion that ‘truth and objectivity are the forced product of the social mechanism of nonviolent but not disinterested struggle’ (117), and from the paradoxical claim to be above this struggle oneself, as an analyst.  But this ‘circle…  Is present in reality’ (117).  Is there not the notion that more advanced states are somehow better?  This does seem to be implied in the argument that autonomy produces more rational kinds of consensus.  Nevertheless, scientific truth is not just a matter of perspectivism.

Critical and reflective thought at least reduces the possibility of error, like seeing agents as sovereign subjects.  Nevertheless there is no absolute point of view at the end of reflexivity.  Some limitation of selfishness is essential for all players in the intellectual field, and ‘no one can forge weapons to be used against his opponents without having those weapons immediately used against him by them or by others’ (119).  It is this social logic that produces progress and ‘mutual surveillance’ to increase efficacy (119).  Objectifying agents by analysis leads to greater awareness of constraints and ties.  No exploration of subjectivity will do this.  The analysis in Homo Academicus shows the benefits of researching the scientific field itself, in producing both understanding of the possibility of scientific knowledge and the object [I think!  120].

Historical and social conditions of the advance of the struggle for ‘the truth about the world’ should be analysed.  This leads to critique of existing forms and a ‘ means of at least partially escaping from the economic and social determinisms that they reveal’ (121).  Analysis leads to awareness of determinations, instead of a pretence that they don’t exist, and suggests ways to overcome constraints, both external and internal [an example of the former is the pressure from journalism, and of the latter is intense competition for grants and celebrity].  Social sciences therefore aim at ‘historicist rationalism or a rationalist historicism’ (121) rather than an illusory foundation.  By stressing practice, cooperation and critique, independence from constraints is likely to increase.

Logic is embedded in social relationships.  There is no immanent ideal speech situation, though, nor any transcendental basis for cooperation.  There is some notion of human ‘imperatives of universality’, however (122) in arguing for the transpersonal and the objective rather than subjective and egoistic interests, but empirically, these are often threatened.  They have to be defended by specialist agents in ‘social microcosms’, as in the development of jurisprudence, or the rise of the state.  Paradoxically, these universal resources are monopolised by a few, like a state nobility, but universalism and disinterestedness remain as a basis of critique of such usurpation, and have to be invoked in claims to legitimacy.  In this way, universalisation produces symbolic profits in political struggles, even if that takes the form of ‘”pious hypocrisies”’ (126).

Again, tendencies can be strengthened towards autonomy and universality.  In this way ‘the scientific field…  [becomes]…  a kind of reasonable utopia of what a political field…  might be like’ and pursuing scientific logic ‘would indicate the principles of actions aimed at promoting the equivalent within the political field’, such as setting up mechanisms to force people to act rationally (126).  Concrete associations and movements might be established to develop these mechanisms, including struggling for an independent media.

This is a more realist account of how democracy might be developed [only just, and rather like Durkheim again?  It still looks awfully like a suggestion that the world should resemble a university seminar].  In some fields, universality is more than an idea, though.  It constitutes the field.  The drive towards universality can reward participants in minor state apparatuses.  The state is also ‘a relay, no doubt a relatively autonomous one, of economic and political powers which have little interest in universal interests’, but it can still act as a referee, and in the name of justice ‘no doubt always somewhat biased, but ultimately less unfavourable to the interests of the dominated…  [than]…  “laisser-faire"' (127).

Chapter 4 Bodily Knowledge

Is it appropriate to study human subjects as objects?  Sometimes, a scientific intention is seen as ‘an unbearable violence’ (128), confusing it with rhetorical strategies including denunciations.  Of course, the analyst cannot be excepted from any general explanations and critique, but examination of the scholastic world seems particularly scandalous, especially by philosophers, who are prepared only to permit a kind of hermeneutic study of sacred texts.  Pascal reminds us that we are both in the world and able to comprehend it, and this dualism needs to be understood.  This is best done by understanding habitus and its role, and by pursuing a particularly reflexive stance—again the claim is that the understanding constraint leads to liberation.

Bodies are clearly situated in physical and social space.  It is easy to understand how bodies came to be identified with individuals as such, with an inward life—‘spontaneous materialism’ (132).  This is the probable root of mind body dualism, and excessive individualism, often seen as the opposite position to social determinism that allegedly resists all generalisation.  There are echoes here of the old struggles between religion and materialism too, and the way they went over into struggles about the nature of the university in France. 

The ‘mentalist’ version of the body arose from an anatomical viewpoint, seeing bodies as machines from the perspective of dissectionists, a classically intellectual or scholastic perspective.  Bodily action remained as a mystery, even speech.  However, bodies can also be seen as locations of an habitus, a collective understanding.  Here, individualisation is itself the product of socialization.

The social space is a series of related social positions, connected to the distribution of various kinds of capital, and structured by proximity or distance between positions.  This explains the ‘social typology’ of Distinction (134)—it is not about the quest for distinction as the principle of human behaviour.  Social space is often ‘symbolically expressed in physical space’, as in the zones in cities with different status for different locations, and as in the connection between personhood and being able to own a property (135).

We are in the world through an illusio, a well connected game, where social proximity may not actually be the same as physical proximity [having it both ways then!] Comprehension of the field is crucial, through ‘the system of dispositions attuned to…  regularities…  [which make up] a corporeal knowledge that provides a practical comprehension of the world which is quite different from the intentional act of conscious decoding’ (135).  Cognitive structures here have been incorporated, constructed by the world and stored in experience.  [In an aside, Bourdieu defends the notion of disposition as indispensable in anthropology, ‘the existence of learning in the sense of the selective, durable transformation of the body through the reinforcement or weakening of synaptic connections’ (136), with a reference to some account of the neuronal structure of human beings in a footnote—close to Levi Strauss and the dodgy hard wiring of binary oppositions here!].  Such practical understanding requires a new form of analysis, beyond mechanism or idealism, and beyond scholasticism—‘a materialist theory’ which examines action, and this is what the notion of habitus does—‘[it] restores to the agent a generating, unifying, constructing, classifying power, while recalling that this capacity to construct social reality, itself socially constructed, is not that of the transcendental subject but of a socialised body, investing in its practice socially constructed organising principles that are acquired in the course of the situated and dated social experience’ (136-7).

These problems are usually thought out in terms of opposed binaries, so we escape determinism only to fall into constructivism.  These binaries have polemical and political functions, and there is a long tradition of sidelining of the body as an instrument of knowledge.  For most positions, action only takes place through creative subjectivity and intention, and this is a view shared by ordinary language expressed in conventional story telling.  This assumption is that people first draw up a list of all possible choices, calculate consequences, and then choose, as in economic theory—and this is the scholastic stance too,  based in leisurely contemplation.

The notion of habitus replaces the notion of the free calculating subject.  The use of the term ‘strategy’ means adjusting to dispositions ‘without express intention or calculation’ (138).  There are no necessary explicit rules of conduct.  Dispositions remain unnoticed.  The habitus enables endless adaptations to new circumstances and a certain ‘quasi bodily anticipation of the immanent tendencies of the field and of the behaviours engendered’ (139).  This is often mistaken as caused behaviour, as a polar alternative to the fully comprehending subject.  The choice of alternatives really depends on the stance of the analyst.  There is often a normative intention beneath apparent description, as in utilitarianism.  The same goes for Lukacs and imputed class consciousness.

Bodily involvement means we are ‘obliged to take the world seriously’ (140), and it is this that develops dispositions.  We are present in the world, including emotionally, and this affects the durable interest and attention that we give the world, as well as ‘the bodily modifications that result from it’ (141).  ‘The social order inscribes itself embodies through this permanent confrontation’ (141).  Foucault on the disciplined body is one example, but there is constant pressure from economic and social structures, and not only through various rites of institution.  The body acts as a ‘”memory pad”’, for example, in learning appropriately gendered behaviour.  Bodily hexis generally expresses dispositions, including ‘the collective principles of vision and division’ (141).  Bodily markings like tattoos represent obvious inscriptions.

The scholastic illusion takes the prime form of misrecognition or forgetting, in this case of the practical activities of habitus and its relations with the world.  Habitus is constant.  It enables us to anticipate social events.  Sensation, feeling and suffering is involved, and an effective response, including an instrumental one, is made possible.  Actors know the world from the inside—‘he inhabits it like a garment’ (143).  Effective practical action arises from a harmony between the habitus and the field, and this avoids consciousness and will [hints of tacit knowledge here]: it looks automatic and natural, adroit, but requiring no conscious obedience to a rule.  We can realise the effects of habitus when it goes wrong, as in ‘allodoxia, the mistake we sometimes make when, waiting for someone, we seem to see that person in everyone who comes along’ (144).

Some academic fields, including ‘sport, music or dance’ actually require such practical engagement and the ‘mobilisation of the corporeal “intelligence”’ (144).  Working in these fields might develop their understanding of this form of knowledge, including the activities of sports trainers, stage directors or actors.  [Incidentally, I can see a point for the first time of teaching drama—‘pedagogic practices…  [can]... induce a suspension of intellectual, and discursive understanding and…  lead the actor, by a long series of exercises, to rediscover postures of the body which, being charged with mnemic experiences, are capable of stirring up thoughts, emotions and imagination’ (144)].

The habitus is ‘the site of durable solidarities, and loyalties that cannot be coerced because they are grounded in incorporated laws and bonds, those of the esprit de corps…  The basis of an implicit collusion among all the agents were products of similar conditions…  an immediate agreement in ways of judging and acting which does not presuppose either the communication of consciousness, still less a contractual decision…  [and]…  is the basis of the practical mutual understanding, the paradigm of which might be the one established between members of the same team, or, despite the antagonism, all the players engaged in a game' (145).  Such cohesion can be reinforced by disciplinary training and rituals which further shape bodies and induce 'somatic compliance' (145). 

This is the mechanism behind the reproduction of privilege, where behaviours are adapted to objective conditions, and shared interests emerge, seemingly in accordance with some collective action.  The example is the response to the crisis in French universities in May 1968, an 'orchestration of habitus' (146).  Such examples help move beyond utilitarian individualism and explain social behaviour, including loyalties and commitments and altruistic behaviour.

Abstract description, as in phenomenology is inadequate to analyse concrete action, which takes place as a result of socially constructed ‘structures or schemes’ (147) faith.  These also explain why the world looks taken for granted (because these dispositions conform to objective structures).  Scholastic reason offers this for taken for granted quality but only for insiders.  The feeling is much more widespread for pre-industrial societies where the habitus covers domestic spaces and public spaces, individual expectations and the chances of realising them.  In industrial societies, all sorts of specialist institutions are required, and these are relatively autonomous.

In this way, ‘practical knowledge is doubly informed by the world that it informs’ (148) [the world is structured in a particular way and so is subjective awareness of it].  The habitus offers a general disposition which enables specific interpretations of events [and again the example is the reaction to the disruption of May 1968].  This should lead us to rethink the idea of choice, since the habitus provides the principle of choice which informs specific reactions to events, and matters such as perceived disappointments or satisfactions.  However, dispositions do not determine action—‘they may …  always remain in a virtual state, like a soldiers’ courage in the absence of war’ (149), and may produce different or even opposite practices in different contexts.  Nevertheless, dispositions to enable us to predict typical behaviour [Bourdieu does not use the term typical, but I think this whole approach is very much about ideal types and their theoretical and empirical adequacy].  Habitus should be seen as offering a potential for action.  There might be a tendency to maintain a social state which permits them to become actualised, and this shows in the patterns of every day choices—‘one makes for oneself an environment in which one feels “at home” and in which one can achieve that fulfilment of one’s desire to be which one identifies with happiness’ (150).  This explains the social patterns which arise in terms of things such as household possessions or social contacts. 

Action is therefore explained by ‘the complicity between two states of the social, between history in bodies and history in things for’ (150), and between objectifed history in the form of structures and mechanisms.  Objectified history is appropriated and read by agents in ways which are predisposed.  This goes on as if it were an absorbing game.  There is no mechanism, however, but rather a series of ‘practical strategies of agents’ (151), who have unequal amounts of capital. [Bourdieu denies determinism by recording his own surprise at social patterns, and insists that any criticism of these patterns should be empirical rather than moral].  

The social and the bodily world interpenetrate each other, and have the same history, producing a characteristic ‘doxic relation to the native world’ (152), permitting a false sense of belonging and possession—‘Only when the heritage has taken over the inheritor can the inheritor take over the heritage’ (152).  [sounds like Eric Cantona at his best].  There seems to be no need for conscious articulations of wants or explicit discussion of matters such as how to reproduce the social order.  [The example here is Louis XIV and the French Court, and Bourdieu seems to be close to borrowing from Elias the idea of a figuration, maintained by a series of struggles held in balance by the shifting movements of the King.  The game is not played according to explicit rules, and everyone seems to be pursuing their own advantage, although the game itself is what is being preserved—153].

Objectified history has to be connected to personal activity, as in acting out a prescribed role.  At its best, this is done through the body, incarnated in the body, as in the experts playing of the role of waiter [the term 'role' implies too much conscious activity for Bourdieu].  Intellectuals do this too in adopting the scholastic perspective.  [And Sartre comes in for particular criticism here, including his supposed workerism—155].

In most cases, it is impossible to distinguish subjective dispositions and the effect of objective positions, so methodological individualism is an unwanted abstraction.  Dispositions should be the unit of analysis.  Oppositions between individuals and societies really belong to the logic of the academic field, and political oppositions more widely.  The same goes for the opposition between realism and nominalism [discussing the status of the social world] —‘It is in each agent, and therefore in the individuated state, that there exist supra-individual dispositions capable of functioning in an orchestrated…  collective way’ (156). 

The habitus is transindividual as well as individual, and its patterning can be ‘statistically characterised’ (157).  Yet biological dimensions remain important for individuals—for example cultural capital can be ‘dependent on the weaknesses and failings of the body’ (157).  Also, there are always some individuals who are out of place, since the relation between position and disposition is never perfect [classic account of deviance as inadequate socialization here].  This can sometimes produce an unusually critical stance.  More commonly, some occupations are still ‘ill defined ... youth leader, cultural organiser, public relations consultant etc.’ (157).  Here there is some room for the action of the agent and for struggles over definitions.  For the older established professions, dispositions often lead to [dysfunctional, as in Merton] qualities such as rigidity and pedantry, demanding total obedience from participants.  Here again, it is the effect of dispositions that produce these characteristics, not structural tendencies as such.  There are also total institutions or apparatuses where obedience is consecrated, especially with oblates or apparatchiks.

In this way, full adjustment is a particular case, although fairly frequent.  Critics are wrong to deny that the concept of habitus can explain mismatches between structures and dispositions—the work on Algeria is cited as an example where economic dispositions did not match economic development.  This enabled Bourdieu to show that economic rationality is far from universal or ahistorical.  [Again echoes of Durkheim here in suggesting that rational behaviour such as the emergence of contract depends on social development: ‘Logic is the unconscious of a society that has invented logic’ (160)].  Habitus is not always fully adapted or integrated, and contradictory positions can produce internal divisions and contradiction as well.  It is not easy to leave behind dispositions even if they are no longer relevant, as when ‘a field undergoes a major crisis’ (160)—the habitus no longer seems self evident.

This might even be the more common condition given social change and instability introduced by things such as markets.  Nevertheless, a radical revision of dispositions is impossible, since the principles of revision ‘are established in the previous state’ (161), and we find rigidities, for example in the elderly, or ‘opportunism…  incapable of encountering the world and of having an integrated sense of self’ (161).  Difficulties of adjustment obviously arise from colonisation or social mobility, as in his own study both of French elites threatened by change, and as in the way elite universities clung on to the old doctoral thesis, even though it no longer meant that full socialization had occurred [Homo Academicus]. There are also shorter term malfunctions of habitus which can produce periodic moments of reflection, not always scholastic ones, but for sportsmen too, when they miss a shot.

Scholars still tend to think in terms of dichotomies.  But even the most extreme versions of human action as rule following still leave grey areas which display ‘the strategies of habitus’ (162).  In performances, such as playing the piano, it is possible to see ‘practical reflection, the reflection in situation and in action which is necessary to evaluate instantly the action or posture just produced’, and it is the same ‘a fortiori of the behaviours of learning’ (162).  What looks like automatic behaviour is only possible when individuals are fully adjusted to their position—‘this is the “ease” of the well-born’, while the others ‘are forced to keep watch on themselves and consciously correct the “first movements” of a habitus that generates inappropriate or misplaced behaviours’ (163).

[I am not really convinced by much of this.  I can see that it is an attempt to defend against accusations of social determinism, but the later stuff about misfirings of the habitus seem like classic old functionalism to me.  The default state is functional adjustment but there are certain disturbances, usually introduced from outside, such as colonisation or market change.  The results are classic forms of deviancy, although, strangely, political radicalism is not mentioned.  Merton’s classification seems better to me!  The disturbances are not structured, not even in the sense of a social strain between expectations and opportunities, let alone in the sense of some permanent tension between ambition and the constraints of social class.  Maybe the gramscian critics are right after all and that this is functionalist Marxism at the best. I don't know though -- there is a bit of lingering struggle between capitals at least in the chapter below, and a kind of exploitation problematic in the second case study

I’m still not convinced by the sociology of the body stuff either.  I can see that in certain traditional societies, social norms take a bodily form, so that Algerians learn the proper way to stand with adults  or enter domestic spaces.  I can also take the point that your body displays obvious signs of social unease, including uncomfortable postures, and that these are often read as particular signs of unsuitability.  Yet I still really can’t see the point of focusing on bodies, except as one sign, among many, of social forces, albeit one that some bourgeois place a great deal of emphasis on, as in the nonsense about body language as a key indicator of character.  I can also see that disabled bodies can produce characteristic signs of social interaction, including elderly bodies.  Yet it is still social forces that are the prime unit of analysis, surely? The emphasis on the body seems tactical mostly, to stave off ultra-rationalism by reminding us we have bodies. I must say I have doubts that emotions are simply bodily phenomena - this looks like the old mind-body dualism again here withoput the disapproval of bodies. I can't see much point of the laboured analogies of 'inorporated' habituses, and I am definitely unconvinced by the neuronal dimension. I can’t see any reason to separate out a bodily dimension, and I’m not sure that Bourdieu does really, since he seems to remain with the habitus as the main unit of analysis].

Chapter 5 Symbolic Violence and Political Struggles

Habitus is not acquired mechanically, either at the primary or secondary level.  The primary level, in the family, is gradually transformed into specific dispositions in fields.  Rites of institution, especially in the education system, play an important part.  There is the usual convergence from subjective and objective ends.  Sudden conversions are rare.  Processes begin early on and proceed relatively smoothly, although not without suffering, through a series of tests.

The illusio develops first in the domestic space [and Freudian processes are described here].  The ‘search for recognition’ is crucial (166).  There are the usual paradoxes of discovering oneself as a subject only by immersing oneself in the system.  This might explain the later desire for symbolic capital, ‘an egoistic quest for satisfactions… which is, at the same time, a fascinated pursuit of the approval of others’ (166).  This process of making sacrifice in order to receive admiration from others is the basis of pedagogy, and it is charged with affect, rooted in desire, and managed through mechanisms of repression.  This is what drives the dispositions to enter into illusio.

Obeying the political order follows a specific form.  It is based on an arbitrary starting point, as we saw, and so commitment to it is a form of deception.  There need be no propagandist or ideological state apparatuses involved, however, rather just the force of custom and ‘docile dispositions’ inculcated especially through schooling (168).  The accession to authority can look automatic, but it requires previous dispositions ‘which it “triggers” like springs’ (169).  The whole process tends to work ‘invisibly and insidiously through familiarisation with a symbolically restructured physical world’ (169).  People recognise the process tacitly, through ‘bodily emotion (shame, timidity, anxiety, guilt), often associated with the impression of regressing towards archaic relationships’ (169), or with feelings of ‘”self division”’ (170) [and the example given is Baldwin on the black child and their implicit sense of inferiority].

‘Symbolic violence is the coercion which is set up only through the consent that the dominated cannot fail to give to the dominator’ (170), because their understandings and classifications of the situation are held in common.  Symbolic violence is exercised obscurely, through the dispositions, beneath the rational and conscious level.  [The example here is male domination ‘the form par excellence of symbolic domination’ (171)].  However, submission can’t be seen as voluntary—‘it is itself the effect of a power’, sometimes represented by the trappings of office (171).  Such tacit beliefs are produced by ‘the training of the body’, and it will not be dispelled by consciousness raising alone: ‘ only a thoroughgoing process of countertraining, involving repeated exercises, can, like an athlete’s training, durably transform habitus’ (172). [A programmes for assertiveness training suggests itself here!]

Domination is always symbolic, and acts of obedience have a social genesis, appearing as the incorporation of social structures, usually reinforced by the State.  Political domination therefore depends on a knowledge of the social world, and vice versa.  Neither revolutionary optimism nor social pessimism have grasped this.

Phenomenology analyses what is taken for granted in an abstract way that misses the political significance of, and the way in which political order appears in the very categories of common sense, especially as domination increases.  Submission to the social world needs to be constantly restated, although this is not to deny the possibility of resistance [however this appears to be a function of the heterogeneity of the social order, 174].  Schutz’s account of the natural attitude is just too formulaic, and fails to see how the violence of the social order fills out the abstract possibilities.  Thus ‘the “ natural attitude” that the phenomenologists refer to…  Is a socially constructed relationship’ (174), and this process of construction is not adequately grasped by phenomenology or ethnomethodology as a political act, involving the State and the institutions.  In particular, certain fundamental principles of classification are imposed by the State [and the examples are ‘sex, age, “competence”…  active/in active’ (175)] and by the education system.  Common symbolic forms, perceptions and memory are developed, and this ‘thereby creates the conditions for an immediate orchestration of habitus which is itself the foundation for a consensus’ (175).  Subjective time is also orchestrated and managed by social time, while disciplinary habituses divide the world. This is especially so once we realise that ‘cognitive structures are not forms of consciousness but dispositions’ of the body, practical schemes’ (176).  We respond to ‘calls to order which trigger deep rooted bodily dispositions without passing through consciousness and calculation’ (176).  Structuralism studies the coherence of symbolic systems which is important, since it is one reason for their effectiveness, and their relation to the social world, but the process of formation is not studied, nor its connection with social conditions.

Submission to domination is no longer a mystery, and we do not need concepts such as false consciousness or ideology—these over represent the importance of belief, and therefore ‘Marxist thought is more of a hindrance than a help’ (177).  Weber is more relevant in stressing the role of specialists and their interests in advancing the development of symbolic systems, ‘the producers of the religious message, the specific interests which motivate them, and the strategies they use in their struggles’ (177).  It is possible to combine this perspective with structural analysis to produce ‘the space of symbolic position takings in a given area of practice…  [and] the structure of the system of the agents who produce them’ (178).  Then we will be in a position to explore the relations between these two structures and to test homologies between them.  This sort of analysis explains the rather surprisingly common political submission based on mere opinion, noted by Hume.  The legitimacy of the state is rarely questioned, nor is it supported by force.  Symbolic revolutionaries occasionally have arisen, but these have commonly failed to take into account Pascal’s ‘” reason of the effects”’ (179) [which seems to be some accommodation to power and constraint, which is reasonable enough, but within an overall foolish system?  179]

Will and consciousness alone will not overcome these effects—the very body can respond with timidity or ‘paralysing taboos’, feelings of duty, devotion and past loyalties (180). Intellectuals often think that changing minds will change the social order, but it is dispositions that need to be transformed, as the examples of deep-rooted racism or nationalism indicate—social barriers may indeed be social constructions, but they are also ‘bound to the body in the form of dispositions’, and relations of domination taken objective form (181).  This makes domination look natural and automatic, supported by things [museums!] and objectified mechanisms [educational selection mechanisms] which make social orders look real and commonsensical.  Historical analysis can help neutralise this naturalisation and dispel genesis amnesia, but thought itself is naturalised as we see with ethnocentrism [or in this case scholasticism].  Classifications get reified and we respond to them automatically.  Reflexive historicisation is required, the very opposite of what philosophy claims to do.

The body and incorporation must be at the centre of political analysis. Social spaces shape bodies and inculcate cognitive structures.  Social positions are themselves reified products of acts of knowledge.  However, it is not just a matter of describing a universe of points of view—the habitus structures points of view in such a way as to produce practical reactions.  The very structure of intellectual fields displays competing points of view because of the uneven distribution of various kinds of capital.  This also guarantees the basis of antagonisms in the social space [so there is a bit of Marxism left here?  184].  A struggle takes place over the legitimacy of the principles of classification of social space, explicitly in modern politics.  Sometimes this means that the doxa must be made explicit, at least in part.  Struggles are limited by the sense of place which governs experience, and is governed by emotions, including ‘the unease of someone who was out of place’ (184), manifested in unconscious adjustments of various kinds.  These experiences are as important as the more explicit theoretical struggles.  They can however be brought to consciousness and visibility, although they usually operate ‘as a practical sense’ (185), and misrecognition, sometimes an allodoxia, ‘consisting in mistakenly misrecognising oneself in a particular form of representation and public enunciation of the doxa...sometimes recognised in the imperative statements of resignation: “That’s not for us”’ (185). There are some ways of resisting nevertheless, although these often take the forms of ‘escaping the most unpleasant forms of labour and exploitation’ [Algerian workers in this case], and there is a constant danger of ‘symbolic hijacking’ when spokesman translates feelings into conventional political discourse.  

Political struggle is the struggle for legitimate vision of the social world, including ‘the vision of its divisions and therefore of the groups which compose it and of their relations’ (186).  The State sets limits, due to its monopoly of legitimate symbolic violence, and thus becomes one of the major stakes at issue.  State legitimation, a nomos, provides official facts, 'known and recognized by all' (186), especially laws and official documents, including identity cards and titles.  State powers are sometimes delegated as in the credential, medical diagnosis, or social statistics.  Individuals are left to best present themselves in the way they can within these categories, in order to accumulate 'symbolic capital of recognition' (187).  These take place in every day existence and cultural production [and in leisure?]

The context is the doxa and struggles to get recognized by it, or, alternatively, to illustrate the 'founding violence' operating behind it.  Such challenges require cultural and symbolic capital, which in turn means the necessity of involvement of professional practitioners and spokespersons.  Revolutionary alliances between intellectuals and others have often occurred—the dominated receive a necessary transfer of cultural capital, but risk symbolic hijacking.

The social and political world is neither a thing in itself,  poorly perceived by agents, nor just a social contract.  People act within it, and need to comprehend it and produce it.  Activities of recognition are part of the symbolic struggle, but are themselves determined by social positions.  It is necessary to bear both ends of this analysis in mind together, 'both the point of view of the agents who are caught up in the object and the point of view on this point of view which the work of analysis enables one to reach by relating position takings to the positions from which they are taken' (189).  It is not enough to see the social world as an object, and normal understanding as merely ‘half-learned’ and thus contemptible.  This twofold truth is difficult to describe.  Participants are often unaware of or unwilling to look at the ‘games of self deception’ which produce consolation for their powerlessness [and the university system is the example here, with its promise of compensation and consolation prizes for all].  There are also ‘collective systems of defence’, such as using particular cases to deny sociological generalisations, or to insist that sociological insight is trivial or malicious (190).  For sociologist, such repression simply confirms the analysis, and there is no need to abandon sociological perspective altogether in favour of direct experiences, as ethnomethodologists do [and practitioners].  Instead, the goal is to analyse points of view, and to move beyond practical perspectives to a 'dual, bifocal point of view which... [minimises scholasticism and builds a ]...  theoretical reconstruction... [incorporating]... the truth of those who have neither the interest, nor the leisure, nor the necessary instruments to reappropriate the objective and subjective truth of what they are and what they do' (191). 

Case study 1: the twofold truth of the gift

The gift is inherently ambiguous, both a matter of self interest and of generosity, seeming to ignore the logic of exchange while reinforcing it—acting therefore 'as an individual and collective self deception' (191).  The gift is analysed in Outline…  and The Logic of Practice.  What is crucial is the ‘lapse of time between the gift and the counter gift’, which masks the contradictions (191) [which refers back to the point above about scholasticism imposing objective notions of time] .  A suitable interval makes it possible to receive a gift as a generous act, 'favouring self deception, a lie told to oneself...  supported by a collective self deception’(192).  Shared understandings of appropriate response cannot be made public.  Participants are taking part in an illusio, apparently denying economic rationality in the construction of a collective misrepresentation of the universal.  Everything depends on the faith in this universal being rewarded by a countergift—thus everyone knows the logic of exchange is being applied, but nobody wants to know explicitly.

All participants go along with the deception, as a result of the dispositions which they have acquired, themselves related to particular forms of economy, a symbolic market.  The disposition towards generosity initiates the act.  It is either deliberately taught or acquired through socialisation.  Agents see themselves as having no alternative but to engage in gift economies.  It is only by grasping this social context and the labour to instil dispositions that gift giving makes any sort of sense, [as both  rational and irrational].  It would be wrong to adopt a scholastic viewpoint and assume that the agents shared it.  Instead we have to leave behind conventional notions of rational calculation and economic interest, and the usual view that the economic field is completely separated from the social or the emotional [with implications for the separation of cognitive and affective interests, national and traditional actions and so on]

The gift economy is not based on economic calculation or logic, but is about 'the accumulation of symbolic capital', based on the exchange of gifts and words.  It only makes sense if agents are economically disinterested in the conventional sense (195). Modern economic activity required a revolutionary change in this set of dispositions, in order to permit the development of autonomous economic calculations.  Symbolic economies are certainly more complex and riddled with ambiguity, such as when deciding what is an inappropriate gift, and they are not easily understood from a modern perspective.  A theoretical effort is required to reconstruct the logic of gift exchange and how it leads to social relationships, not an attempt to judge the activity on the basis of modern economic logic and self interest [or a recourse to some unexplained factors such as convention, irrationality or some other 'ad hoc invention' (197)].  This in turn requires an understanding of the orchestration of habitus.

It i  necessary to understand that in symbolic economies communication 'is one of the channels of domination' and that gifts are obligatory and require a countergift, but only after a suitable interval has elapsed.  'Eagerness, normally a sign of submission, is here a sign of impatience with dependance, and therefore virtually an ingratitude…  a haste to acquit a debt' (198), quite unlike the normal logic of the exchange of equivalents.  The body develops its own recognition of these processes, as 'internalised gratitude…  passion, love, submission, respect, or an unrepayable and, as people often say, everlasting debt' (198).  All this operates through shared schemes of perception, a form of communication which transforms ‘brute power relations...  into durable relations of symbolic power through which a person is bound and feels bound’ (199).  Economic domination becomes personal dependence, 'generosity is possessive', and the economic form of exchange is concealed (199).

A cultural understanding of time is crucial, since it implies a potential social bond, and uncertainty—a lack of response can be a refusal to respond, or an evasion, or cowardice.  Gifts do not just have to be objects, or but can be 'expressions of concern, kindness, consideration or advice…  acts of generosity…  charity' (200), and these increase dependence when they cannot be returned.  In this way, relations of trust or credit, even in modern societies, may not be explicable by a rational calculation alone, but may be 'ascribed to the durable domination that symbolic violence secures' (200). Dominant groups can build up dependency through gift giving.  It is possible that the State itself replaces the individual gift giver: social welfare can take on a symbolic function and 'produce recognition of the legitimacy of the State', which exceeds any short term costs or benefits (201).

Gift giving shows that virtue is a political matter.  Modern individualist societies lack this collective production of virtue in group exchanges and in a social 'interest in disinterestedness and generosity…  universally respected forms of respect for the universal'(202) [blimey—shades of American communitarian beliefs in the need for the rich to offer charity to the poor as a material base for reciprocity, instead of state welfare, in order to do social bonding].

Case study 2: the twofold truth of labour

Labour also has to be constructed as an object of analysis, just as Marx did when he grasped the specificity of wage labour.  Again, anthropological study shows that the idea that labour receives only a wage is unusual.  It is also useful  to compare different types, such as forced labour and scholastic labour like the ‘quasi-ludic activity of the artist or writer’ (202).  The latter shows that there is inherent gratification and symbolic profit attached to labour as well.  The ‘symbolic mutilation’ which arises from unemployment indicates this too.  Dispositions towards symbolic rewards are actualised in work as well.  Bourdieu admits that this might have the effect of persuading workers to become committed to their labour and therefore their exploitation.  Again, dispositions towards work can lead to excessive investment in it, and a misrecognition of ‘its objective truth’ (203).

Nevertheless, it is subjective reality that needs to be analysed as well.  In some cases, ‘the margin of freedom left to the worker…  is a central stake’ (204), and much depends on how this freedom is interpreted and understood—it might be seen as ‘a conquest…  [or]...a  privilege’, masking overall constraints and diluting domination with partial relaxation.  This can be a deliberate strategy ‘the principle of Socrate’s shackles’ (204).  In this way, elements of resistance might contribute to exploitation, as modern managers know, especially when they do ‘”participatory management”’, or engage in ‘the new strategies of manipulation—“job enrichment", encouragement of innovation and communication of innovation, “quality circles”, permanent evaluation, self evaluation’ (205).  Here, symbolic violence is being exerted but in a hidden way, as ‘gentle violence’, supported if necessary by threats of redundancy.

Chapter 6 Social Being, Time and the Sense of Existence

Scholasticism implies an external relation to time, since it takes place outside it.  Similarly, history is something external and objective.  This is quite different from the acting agent who is in time and who makes time subjectively. Making time in this sense means participating in an illusio, a special ‘relationship to the directly perceived present’, but not as in a controlled project, more as the ‘experience of preoccupation and immersion in the forthcoming in which time passes unnoticed’ (207). 

Different kinds of reflexivity are involved.  In the first kind what is taken for granted in the doxa is brought to consciousness [Bourdieu is using phenomenological terms here, so that one perceives the surface of an object and simply assumes that there are other hidden dimensions to it, until specific reflection on those dimensions arises, which then permits a specific project related to those hidden dimensions.  It is a kind of potential project].  Emotional reactions provide a good example, where fear is based on anticipations which intrude into the present.  The anticipation of a good sportsman is another example, where the possibilities arising in the game are realized.

The dispositions in the habitus involve an experience of time which is like this, a matter of the potentials inherent in the game.  This is paradoxical in that although time is experienced, it is not done so in a noticeable way.  One notices time when expectations are broken—‘the breaking of the tacit collusion between the course of the world…  and internal movements which relate to them’ (209) [the course of the world is felt here through the cycle of the seasons or biological processes].  We can feel impatient, regretful, or dissatisfied.

Free time is something different again, both a feeling of being liberated from time ‘because liberated from illusio, from preoccupation’ (209), a feeling of suspension of responsibilities, with no social investment.  This might be increasingly colonised by social investment in fact, given the constant ‘competition for the accumulation of symbolic capital in various forms: suntan, souvenirs or anecdotes, photos or films, monuments, museums, landscapes, places to visit or explore’ (209).

Projects attempt to constitute the future, to choose it as a possibility.  This involves abstraction, objectification and conscious action.  The present becomes a set of objective potentialities.  ‘Habitus is that presence of the past in the present which makes possible the presence in the present of the forthcoming’ (210) [wilfully charismatic obscurity in my view—what it means is that the habitus guides us towards seeing potentials for projects].  Habitus replaces some notion of the external causality of projects, and acts instead rather as a trigger to action.  In this way, habitus unites the past and the possibilities of the future—it is not simply memory of the past but a series of dispositions that guides projects.  Much of this arises from familiarisation with a field and practice, rather than something conscious.  Some sort of 'mutual prompting' takes place between the habitus and the actual occasion. 

We attend to events from our inherent passions, hopes and expectations, but these have to be linked to 'the structure of probabilities which is constitutive of the social space' (211), and this requires a sense of the game, a set of anticipations, based on experience of regularities and contingencies.  Again, this is not the same as rational calculation of chances.  It can seem natural to behave in particular ways.  Thus strategies can remain implicit, unspecified, and even disinterested.  The habitus impels people into the game.

Objects from the past can retain their symbolic value, including acting as 'an object of contemplation or speculation (in both senses), dissertation or meditation' (212).  [Again all kinds of high powered philosophical references are used to dignify these observations, including Heidegger on what consecrate antiquities in museums, page 212].  Objects in the past are valued according to whether they can become symbolic capital, although this is misunderstood as intrinsic value.  Everything depends on the habitus being able to connect the past present and future in a game— time 'is the work not of the thinking consciousness but of the dispositions and practice’ (213). 

The game requires a particular relationship between expectations and objective chances—'nothing must be absolutely sure, but not everything must be possible' (213), if play is to take place, and there must also exist ‘the chance of profit on the various markets’ (214).  This is the origin of suitable dispositions, and a relatively durable but flexible habitus.  Often, social and cultural games are not fair games, but act more like 'a handicap race that has lasted for generations' (215), where the past effects the possibility of accumulating profit.  It is this that gives the social world the structure of possibilities of its own, an '"order of successions”’, the 'regular distribution…  of probabilities or objective expectations' (215). The habitus is capable of practical intervention.  Some tendencies are relatively coherent, constant or orchestrated, and some mechanisms deliberately conserve and reproduce the social order.

Expectations and chances are not equally distributed.  Different amounts and types of capital endow agents with different amounts of power.  Objective chances tend to produce adjusted subjective dispositions.  Usually, this leads to a certain predictability, and adjustment is the norm [functionalism again] with 'pleonaxia, the desire always to have more, as Plato called it…  [as]…  the exception' (216) even where structural declassment and growing insecurity exists.  Usually, reactions to these situations involve objective adjustment, even if they do not 'necessarily correspond to the interests of their authors’ (217).  Resignation and fatalism is a common outcome.  Power itself governs the perceptions of empowerment resulting in durable bodily dispositions.

Families, peer groups and the education system develop this adjustment and discourage unattainable goals 'which are thereby defined as illegitimate pretensions' (217).  This is moral education—'become what you are (and what you have to be) socially, do what you have to do, what is incumbent upon you' (218).  Rites of institution simply express this explicitly and in a public and condensed form.

The notion of typical or average chances as in Weber is a scholastic abstraction, albeit a useful one for, say, economic theory.  That theory assumes the connection between objective circumstances and subjective intentions is a matter of rational choice.  Rational action as rational response in Weber is 'a typical example of scholastic lack of realism' (219), since there is never enough information or equal capacity to act on it.  Nor can this be rectified by thinking of terms such as 'bounded rationality' ['fuzzy logic' might be a contemporary example?]. Even anticipations and expectations are affected by 'the unequal distribution of capital in its various forms', and only universalising the scholastic stance overcomes this (219) [Bayes' theory of action is also dismissed as an abstraction, 220].  These theories are both normative and descriptive.  Coherence of action arises from an  unconscious 'logic of decision' for Dewey, but this is also inadequate in its appeal to some ‘dormitive’ powers [nice point – but doesn’t the notion of habitus run the same risk?].  Strategies arise from mutual promptings as above. 

Sociologist often forget the impact of social and economic conditions.  Examining the subproletariat  can be illuminating, the unemployed in Algeria, for example, or adolescents on housing estates in the 1990s.  The effects of long lasting powerlessness is to produce 'a kind of generalised and lasting disorganisation of behaviour and thought linked to the disappearance of any coherent vision of the future' (221), and empirical study is far better than thought experiment to examine the limits of scholastic presuppositions here.  Incoherence, disorganisation, fatalism and a tendency to 'oscillate between fantasy and surrender' shows that the strategic orientation ceases to apply at the margins [the examples are cited from Weight of the World] (221).  Ambition to control the future 'varies with the real power to control that future' (221).  Unemployment means the displacement of goals and  functions, priorities, and an 'objective universe of incitements and indications which orient and stimulate action...  time seems to be annihilated...  because employment is the support, if not the source, of most interests, expectations, demands, hopes and investments...  in short one of the major foundations of illusio' (222).

Pseudo-work activities like lotteries and gambling,hanging around and tinkering offer an escape by reintroducing time and expectations and recapturing some idea of strategy.  Acts of violence, or  'death defying games with cars or motorbikes…  [are]…  a desperate way of existing in the eyes of others' (223).  Studying such people shows the abstractions of the scholastic view point and reintroduces the importance of power.  The abstractions of public objective time also conceal power.

There are therefore different ways of realizing oneself in time, depending on one's economic and social place.  Some people have empty time that needs to be killed, others are too busy to notice time passing.  Then there is leisurely time, skholè, developed initially 'as a bohemian life…  loosely structured temporality…  without schedules or urgency' (224). The subjective aspects of career are underpinned by the patterns of university life, and the ways in which university work turn 'exclusion from the world of practice into a cognitive privilege' (224).

The experiences of other workers in stable employment and occupying a social position produce a 'stable, orderly relation to the future which underlies so called "reasonable" behaviours' including conventional political ones (225), while inequalities of power produce a universe 'profoundly differentiated especially according to the degree to which it offers stable chances'.  Capital can be seen as a way of securing rights over the future, producing ordinary wealth but a lack of time.  The value of time is 'the fundamental dimension of the social value of that person'(226), but the wealthy have to spend more and more time succeeding in their various social games: their increased opportunities mean they can never find time to pursue them all.  Changes in time like this affects social relationships—for example, 'the upkeep of enchanted relationships' requires a lot of time [and there is another plug for the renewal of local solidarities] (227)

Absolute power can also be used to introduce personal unpredictability.  The control of waiting is important in exercising power [as in the stuff on role of the Ph.D.  as waiting in Homo Academicus].  Letting people wait is a major way to exercise power over them, keeping them stringing along.  Kafka's Trial is 'a very realistic model of the fields of cultural production, governed by powers which, like those of the university world, or based on a hold over other people's time' (229). 'Absolute power has no rules, or rather its role is to have no rules—or, worse, to change the rules after each move, or whenever it pleases, according to its interests' (229).  Law courts do this in Kafka's novel.  Total institutions work like this.  In each case, the victim has to agree to comply and invest in the game.

If expectations are adjusted to chances, this is powerful conservatism, especially if it produces docile dispositions.  'The dominated are always more resigned than the populist mystique believes, and even that might be suggested by simple observation' (231), partly because the costs of revolt are high.  This is even so for rebellious adolescents—and Willis is cited here, even though his 'work has been enrolled on the side of "resistance", as the term opposed to "reproduction", in one of those pairs of opposites beloved of scholastic thought' (232).  Willis describes the conservative world of masculinity, and its denial of theoretical abstractions.  Wacquant has a similar study of black people in American ghettos [with a reference to a similar study on the hustler in the American ghetto in Weight...].  When revolt does occur, it 'stops short of the limits of the immediate universe and, failing to go beyond insubordination, bravado in the face of authority or insults, it targets persons rather than structures' (232).

The powerless value necessity ‘as a defence mechanism against necessity’, as 'profoundly realist dispositions (close sometimes to fatalism)' (233).  These dispositions are far more effective than ideological state apparatuses.  The current 'populist illusion which is nowadays nourished by a simplistic rhetoric of "resistance"' conceals  toleration of violence, against others and towards oneself.  This can only be combated by a reduction of 'the violence exerted every day in families, factories, workshops, banks, offices, police stations, prisons, even hospitals and schools…  the "inert  violence" of economic structures and social mechanisms' (233).  Some underdogs are able to respond with irony or humour, but the tendency to exalt these characteristic should be resisted, especially by 'all the do gooders…  [who]…  see condemnations or celebrations in informed attempts to describe things as they are' (234).

However, 'the circle of expectations and chances' can be broken by rising expectations and social mismatches arising from structural discrepancies between ‘qualifications attained and jobs actually obtained'[so there is social strain after all] (234).  The lack of a future is becoming increasingly widespread.  There is a potential for political action in the flexibility of the symbolic order, 'the degree of playing…  the space of freedom through the more or less voluntarist positing of more or less improbable possibles—utopia, project,  program or plan' (234).  Dispositions will remain durable and incorporated, but events can reactivate more destabilising dispositions, especially if repressed lives are made public.  It is possible still to predict 'struggles over the sense of the social world' and, 'in some historical conditions, mobilize a group around [them]' (235).

Orthodoxy tries to close down the range of possibilities, and to see the social order as the result of immutable laws or nature.  Rites of institution attempt to instil this view, and to develop compliance in exchange for social status.  However, there are still 'discourses or actions of subversion', which work on raised expectations, although these also need a social base in objective conditions, often where existing institutions are in a state of crisis (236).

The dominated commonly experience alienation and anxiety, a lack of justification in existing as they do.  The judgement of others is clearly important, especially if they aim at universality.  Again, Kafka's novel can help explain what's going on in emphasizing the importance of ‘naming or categorisation’ where everything is at stake (238).  But one way to resist is to withdraw interest in the game of categorisation [sounds like De Certeau and a strategy of the powerless].  However, no one can withdraw entirely from the social game, because to do so would be to lack 'a justification for existing' (239).  Symbolic capital is important to all of us, helping to forget our own insignificance and the awareness that we are mortal: there is no alternative once we reject God.  The State in particular has a crucial role here 'as the central bank of symbolic capital' (240).

In the social game, the visible profits are important, but so is the bonus of 'feeling oneself…  endowed with a social mission…  The feeling of counting for others, being important for them, and therefore in oneself' (240).  Durkheim showed how social importance is connected with suicide.  Uneven distribution of symbolic capital is one of the cruellest.  It depends on the recognition from others, which renders people vulnerable, especially if it appears as an objective reality.  The symbolic functions of all the other capitals are also crucial—symbolic capital is 'what every kind of capital becomes when it is misrecognised as capital, that is, as force, a power or capacity for…  exploitation' (242).

 Symbolic values depend on the relationship with an habitus.  To be recognized means 'possessing the power to recognise, to consecrate…  to say what is, or rather what is to be thought about what is'.  (242).  Rites of institution legitimates this status, as 'acts of performative magic' (243), Such rights are always exceptionally personal, invariably face to face, requiring solemn participation, and guaranteeing an identity in exchange, not confined to a biological individual.  The social order itself is represented in symbolic form.  Reflexiveness is not permitted or welcomed, but the exposure of arbitrariness is always present, since it is real persons who are involved and they have to give a plausible performance, including adopting 'an appropriate body hexis’, which depersonalises (244).  This involves sacrifice of the personal, submission to the social order, giving oneself '"body and soul" to his function, and, through it to the corporate body' (244).

These rites show how an arbitrary body affirms and being and identity on 'a contingent being, vulnerable to sickness, infirmity and death'.  Even rites involving the issue of identity cards validate and consecrate 'that realisation of God on earth, the State... Durkheim...was not so naive...when he said...that “society is God”’ (245).

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