Pierre Bourdieu - Modernity and Social Theory - Lecture Slides, Slides for Legal and Social Theory. Alliance University
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Pierre Bourdieu - Modernity and Social Theory - Lecture Slides, Slides for Legal and Social Theory. Alliance University

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Pierre Bourdieu, Lifestyle and Power, Social Class, Highly Stratified, Based Societies, Upper Classes Powerful, Lower Classes Powerless, Winners Keep Winning, Losers Keep Losing, Unintentionally are some points from this...
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PIERRE BOURDIEU

PIERRE BOURDIEU

The Sociology of Class, Lifestyle and Power

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Bourdieu’s Key Claims 1. Social class is the basic social fact

2. We continue to live in highly stratified, unequal, class-

based societies

3. Society works to keep the upper classes powerful and the lower classes powerless

THE WINNERS KEEP WINNING THE LOSERS KEEP LOSING

4. A lot of this happens unintentionally; NOTdeliberate

manipulation by the powerful docsity.com

OUTLINE

1. Bourdieu’s biography 2. Main aims 3. Social action 4. Habitus, capital, field 5. Education field 6. Social reproduction &

social mobility 7. Criticisms

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Bourdieu’s Biography 1930 – 2002

- Born in the Béarn region of France - Peasant background - Star pupil; degrees in philosophy and anthropology - Professor of Sociology, College de

France (1980) - Political figure; Media personality - “An Outsider’s Sociology”

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Main Aims 1) To understand why social inequalities: a) are reproduced over time: Retention of wealth, prestige, power by elites (“reproduction”) b) are generally accepted by the lower classes 2) To liberate social actors from oppressive social

and mental conditions - reveals structures actors not fully aware of - shows society could be organised differently

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Main Aims 3) Reconcile and synthesise separate schools of

sociological thought - Marxism (social class & power) - Durkheimian sociology (division of labour;

cultures of different groups) - Weberian sociology (focus on social action;

attention to empirical details) - Phenomenology (how people perceive the world they live in;

how social power shapes perceptions)

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Main Aims

4) Transcend dualisms - “Subjective” OR “Objective” - Social Structure OR Action/Agency

(“Structuration”) - Theory OR Empirical data - Quantitative OR Qualitative Use of multiple research methods: Interviews, questionnaires, documents, etc.

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Main Aims 5) Connect different social spheres - Sociology of education, sociology of politics, sociology

of mass media, etc.

- See how each sphere connects with, and affects, the others

6) Encourage “reflexivity” - Sociology of sociology - See how social forces shape the ways in which

sociologists see things - Sociologist studies him/herself sociologically

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Social Action (Weber; Parsons)

1) A person - who has resources 2) Person thinks in certain ways - has certain goals - thinks of ways(means) to achieve them - goals and means shaped by culture 3) Has to act in particular social contexts - Contexts shape the person’s thinking & acting - Contexts shape how successful (or not) the person is

in achieving their goals docsity.com

Bourdieu on social action: 1) A person has particular goals (these may be thought about fully consciously or

only semi-consciously; mostly the latter) 2) They try to pursue those goals using certain

strategies (also consciously or semi-consciously; mostly the

latter)

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3) They have certain resources at their disposal (Social inequality: some people have more resources than

others) 4) They act in certain social contexts Success: 1) having a large amount of the right sort of resources for

particular contexts 2) having appropriatestrategies for those contexts Failure: 1) having the wrong sort of resources for those contexts 2) having inappropriate strategies for those contexts

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Bourdieu’s terminology for social action: a) A person (“social agent”) - shaped by a “habitus” - has certain sorts of resources (“capital”) b) Person thinks in certain ways - thinking is semi-conscious – “practical reasoning” - thinking (both goals and strategies) shaped by the

habitus

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c) Person has to act in particular social contexts (“fields”) d) Person has to interact with other people (“games”) (Actors = “players”) e) General rule: How successful a person is in a particular field

depends on how appropriate their habitus and capital is for the game played in that field

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f) Sporting analogy: i) Social life is a series of games

ii) You need the right skills to play those games

successfully e.g. tennis skills – playing rugby iii) Skills = using the capital you possess iv) Your habitus influences the AMOUNT AND TYPE

of capital you possess docsity.com

v) The more of the right sorts of capital you have for a specific game 

- the better, & more successful, player in that game you will be

EXAMPLE: the “game” of education - Appropriate skills = “cultural capital” - Appropriate habitus = upper middle class habitus - Inappropriate skills = lack of “cultural capital” - Inappropriate habitus = lower working class habitus

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Habitus, Capital, Field

Habitus (plural: habitus) Components: - ways of thinking / ways of acting - bodily habits - tastes: likes and dislikes

Whole way of life / lifestyle

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a) Each class has its own habitus - Working class habitus - Middle class habitus Lower working class (least capital) Upper working class (some capital) Lower middle class (more capital) Upper middle class (most capital) b) Each individual’s habitus is the habitus of their class e.g. working class person, working class habitus

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c) Socialised into particular ways of thinking and acting

Primary socialisation – family, peers Secondary socialisation – education, media d) Experience the habitus as “natural”:

(the condition of “doxa”) Could have been socialised very differently

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e) Each habitus has its own set of tastes - Likes / dislikes - Beautiful / disgusting - Moral / immoral, etc.

f) Tastes are socially stratified Upper middle class taste – regarded as highest Lower middle class taste – regarded as middling Working class taste – regarded as lowest

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g) Cultural power Elites have the power to define their tastes and their

culture as the best - the most “sophisticated”, “refined”, “tasteful”, etc. Upper middle class habitus - sense of superiority Lower middle class habitus – aspirational Working class habitus – sense of inferiority;

defensiveness; mocking of middle class pretentions

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BOURDIEU - RECAP 1. Society still very much class-based 2. Reproduction of privilege - Elites pass advantages onto their children - Non-elites pass disadvantages onto their

children 3. Social life is a series of games, occurring in

fields Success: appropriate habitus & capital

HABITUS, CAPITAL, FIELD docsity.com

Capital HOW MUCH capital does a person have? WHAT TYPE of capital does a person have? Economic capital: - money resources

Cultural capital: - knowledge of “legitimate” culture / ‘High Culture’ - “refined” manners - “Linguistic capital” – speaking “properly”

Social capital - social networks (knowing influential people)

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a) AMOUNT & TYPE of capital => class membership e.g. LOW AMOUNT of all 3 TYPES = lower working class e.g. HIGH AMOUNT of all 3 TYPES = upper middle class b)Habitus STRONGLY INFLUENCES both the amount &

type of capital a person has The more upper middle class the habitus => the more capital the person has

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Cultural bourgeoisie High Intermediate e.g. artists, academics

Business bourgeoisie Intermediate High e.g. company directors

Upper professionals Intermediate to high Intermediate to high e.g. lawyers, higher civil servants

Lower middle class Intermediate to low Intermediate to low e.g. primary school teachers, nurses

Working class Skilled Low to intermediate Low to intermediate Unskilled Low Low

Cultural Capital Economic Capital

(Lower WC) (Upper WC)

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Field a) Level of individuals’ experiences: - different social contexts e.g. school, work, leisure - contexts where social games are played b) Level of Society: - separate social spheres e.g. education system, economic system, system

of leisure and recreation, etc.

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