From the model of reality to the reality of the model
PierreBourdieu: from the model of
reality to the reality of the model
The sociological and anthropological work of PierreBourdieu, from the
1960s through to his death in 2002, is among the most impressive examples
of sustained, consistent social science that the ﬁeld has produced during
the century and a half or so that it has existed as an institutionalised academic endeavour. Despite the criticisms to which it is vulnerable, Bourdieu’s
oeuvre is a distinguished and challenging combination of extreme theoretical ambition and systematic
The structure/agency debate has been among the central issues in discussions of social theory. It has been widely assumed that the key theoretical task is to find a link between social structures and acting human beings to reconcile the macro with the micro, society and the individual. This book considers a general movement in which the collective concepts established by the early pioneers of modern sociological thought have been reconsidered in the light of both theoretical critique and empirical results. It argues that the contemporary sociological preoccupation with structure and agency has had disastrous effects on the understanding of Karl Marx's ideas. Through a critical evaluation of 'structuration theory' as a purported synthesis of 'structure and agency', the book also argues that the whole idea of a structure-and-agency 'problem' mythologises the fracture lines that do run through relatively recent sociological thought. Michel Foucault's ideas were used to both shore up existing positions in sociology and to instantiate (or solve) the 'new' structure-agency 'problem'. Foucault allowed sociologists to conduct 'business as usual' between the demise of structuralism and the contemporary consensus around Pierre Bourdieu-Anthony Giddens-Jurgen Habermas and the structure-agency dualisms. Habermas is one of the most prominent figures in contemporary social theory.
This book challenges the assumptions that reporters and their audiences alike have about the way the trade operates and how it sees the world. It unpacks the taken-for-granted aspects of the lives of war correspondents, exposing the principles of interaction and valorisation that usually go unacknowledged. Is journalistic authority really only about doing the job well? Do the ethics of war reporting derive simply from the ‘stuff’ of journalism? The book asks why it is that the authoritative reporter increasingly needs to appear authentic, and that success depends not only on getting things right but being the right sort of journalist. It combines the critical sociology of Pierre Bourdieu and interviews with war correspondents and others with an active stake in the field to construct a political phenomenology of war reporting—the power relations and unspoken ‘rules of the game’ underpinning the representation of conflict and suffering by the media.
Laurent Cantet is of one France’s leading contemporary directors. He probes the evolution and fault-lines of contemporary society from the home to the workplace and from the Republican school to globalized consumption more acutely than perhaps any other French film-maker. His films always challenge his characters’ assumptions about their world. But they also make their spectators rethink their position in relation to what they see. This is what makes Cantet such an important film-maker, the book argues. It explores Cantet’s unique working ‘method,’ his use of amateur actors and attempt to develop an egalitarian authorship that allows other voices to be heard rather than subsumed. It discusses his way of constructing films at the uneasy interface of the individual, the group and the broader social context and his recourse to melodramatic strategies and moments of shame to force social tensions into view. It shows how the roots of the well-known later films can be found in his early works. It explores the major fictions from Ressources humaines to the recent Foxfire, Confessions of a Girl Gang. It combines careful close analysis with attention to broader cinematic, social and political contexts while drawing on a range of important theorists from Pierre Bourdieu to Jacques Rancière, Michael Bakhtin and Mary Ann Doane. It concludes by examining how, resolutely contemporary of the current moment, Cantet helps us rethink the possibilities and limits of political cinema in a context in which old resistances have fallen silent and new forms of protest are only emergent.
This book is concerned with the scope of cultural theory in its modern, it might even be said in its modernist, form. The three thinkers under most consideration in the book are Theodor Adorno, Michel Foucault and Pierre Bourdieu, who might hardly be seen as representatives of cultural theory per se if that enterprise is taken to be what it should often taken to be. The book starts with Adorno (1903-1969) not just because his work is an apt way to introduce further some very basic themes of the book: in particular those of critical autonomy and educationality. Adorno's reflections on art and culture are contributions to the ethical understanding of autonomy, emphasising the importance of the cultivation of critical reflection. The argument here is that he is, rather, an ethico-critical theorist of democracy and a philosopher of hope. The book then situates the work of Michel Foucault (1926-1984), in other ways so different from Adorno, in terms of a broadly, if minimally, parallel agenda in modern cultural theory. It outlines some of the importance of Foucault's notion of an 'aesthetics of existence' in relation to his work as a whole. It further invokes related themes in the work of Pierre Bourdieu (1930-2002). Finally, it moves things in a different direction, towards postmodernism, invoking the increasing role of the cultural and aesthetic dimension in contemporary experience that is often taken as a central aspect of the postmodern turn.
In two parts, the book examines, first, the attempts of three thinkers of the first half of the twentieth century to reconcile, in different socio-cultural contexts, the legacy of idealist philosophy with the claims of empirical social science, and, secondly, the trajectory of Bourdieu’s career in France from philosophy student to sociological researcher to political activist. It traces a progression from thought to action, but an emphasis on action informed by thought. It poses the question whether Bourdieu’s attempted integration of intellectualism and empiricism correlated with his particular socio-historical situation or whether it offers a global paradigm for advancing inter-cultural understanding. The book is of interest in confronting the question whether socio-political organization is best understood by social scientists or by participants in society, by experts or by the populace. It will stimulate general consideration of the relevance of a sociological perspective in everyday life and how much that perspective should be dependent on inherited concepts. Part I analyses the work of Alfred Schutz, Aron Gurwitsch and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Part II that of Pierre Bourdieu. The book is methodologically meticulous in situating these works socio-historically. It provides an introduction to some ideas in social philosophy and shows how these ideas became instrumental in generating a theory of practice. The book is aimed at post-graduate students and staff in all disciplines in the Humanities, and Human and Social sciences, but, more generally, it should interest all academics concerned about the contemporary social function of intellectuals.
MUP FINAL PROOF – <STAGE>, 09/13/2013, SPi
Jacques Derrida, PierreBourdieu and the French University
The work of leading French academics such as PierreBourdieu and Jacques
Derrida on education points to key differences in emphasis in the Irish and
French university systems. However, the French university system did share,
only much earlier, many of the key changes that have come to Irish universities since the 1980s. It experienced a surge in university numbers slightly
earlier than its Irish counterpart. Alain Bienayme notes
education and universality that the humanities privileges must ultimately
work to counter readings that promote a particularist approach to knowledge
and human potential. In chapters 3 and 4, I return to this argument in discussing the work of Newman and Leavis.
The final account of the humanities that is also important for this study is
the somewhat ‘suspicious’ examination of the traditional humanities subjects
in the French university system by PierreBourdieu. Bourdieu’s work is
perhaps of singular importance in documenting issues related to cultural
7 Intellectual politics and Europe
More than other societies, French society needs revolutionary totems. Next
to the eponymous statuette of PierreBourdieu, great sociologist and firstclass ultrabasist mandarin, will henceforth stand that of Arlette Laguiller, as
a caryatid supporting Lutte ouvrière [a Trotskyist party]. Formerly the
Communist party, symbol of an unattainable 'Great Evening', the torch of a
frank and massive strategy of rupture with capitalist society, held this role.
(Duhamel 1998, 4)
The often contradictory process of symbolic integration
– Theodor Adorno, Michel Foucault and PierreBourdieu – might
hardly be seen as representative of cultural theory per se if that enterprise is taken to be what it is often taken to be. But this book is not
about cultural theory in, say, its Spenglerite form, the analysis of the
cultural predicament of such grandiose, epochal and over-schematic
concepts such as ‘Western man’ or Occidental reason. Instead, for all
their manifest dissimilarities, these writers are taken as paradigm
cases of a certain kind of specifically modern agenda in cultural
theory – which is