Live Blogging: PhD Theory Class #5

Bourdieu: Habitus, Field, Capital…

A reading from War and Peace… Habitus is knowing who to stand near… Habitus is dursable and transposable. When you think of habitus: “This was his way of thinking…” Not planning ahead: letting one’s habitus guide them. Being reflexive appears as “epiphany” because we are as much automatic as we are intellectual (p. 12).

P. 8: “I do not forget all that was do to myself” -“less to do with the understanding as with the will” – less understanding, more the will to try and see. “Often surpised at the time it has taken me really to understand the things I have been saying for a long time” – “rework the same things… it is always in a spiraling movement…”

The most unexpected relelations of the least we want to know about who we are… tell people the least they want to know…This is hard to get at… we need the scholastic disposition, the leisure, that remove us from practical necessity.

This is where patients / physisians are disconected. The key thing for patients is that you are left alone with nothing to do but think. Hidden selves emerge. The leisure of waiting (no matter how paiful, aprehensive). This produces a different frame of mind. The Dr. sees this as another box to check off on their checklist.

When you are thinking about “what you really ment” as you look back. Be careful of the work you do, because it is hard to escape. Even though you felt sure at the time; start big, get a big scope.

Sociology as a Martial Art – Film on Bourdieu

observer / observed || social life / what sociologists see

49/50 Scholastic Bias leads to errors. Assuming being “above the world” without being immersed in it.

77: fundimental ambiguity


Symbolic capital and symbolic violence (Wikipedia)

Bourdieu sees symbolic capital (e.g. prestige, honour, the right to be listened to) as a crucial source of power. Symbolic capital is any species of capital that is perceived through socially inculcated classificatory schemes. When a holder of symbolic capital uses the power this confers against an agent who holds less, and seeks thereby to alter their actions, they exercise symbolic violence. We might see this when a daughter brings home a boyfriend considered unsuitable by her parents. She is met with disapproving looks and gestures, symbols which serve to convey the message that she will not be permitted this relationship, but which never make this coercive fact explicit. People come to experience symbolic power and systems of meaning (culture) as legitimate. Hence the daughter will often feel a duty to obey her parents’ unspoken demand, regardless of her suitor’s actual merits. She has been made to misunderstand or misrecognise his nature. Moreover, by perceiving her parents’ symbolic violence as legitimate, she is complicit in her own subordination – her sense of duty has coerced her more effectively than explicit reprimands could have done.

Symbolic violence is fundamentally the imposition of categories of thought and perception upon dominated social agents who then take the social order to be desirable. It is the incorporation of unthought structures that tend to perpetuate the structures of action of the dominant. The dominated then take their position to be “right.” Symbolic violence is in some senses much more powerful than physical violence in that it is embedded in the very modes of action and structures of cognition of individuals, and imposes the vision of the legitimacy of the social order.

In his theoretical writings, Bourdieu employs some terminology of economics to analyze the processes of social and cultural reproduction), of how the various forms of capital tend to transfer from one generation to the next. For Bourdieu, education represents the key example of this process. Educational success, according to Bourdieu, entails a whole range of cultural behaviour, extending to ostensibly non-academic features like gait or accent. Privileged children have learned this behaviour, as have their teachers. Children of unprivileged backgrounds have not. The children of privilege therefore fit the pattern of their teachers’ expectations with apparent ‘ease’; they are ‘docile’. The unprivileged are found to be ‘difficult’, to present ‘challenges’. Yet both behave as their upbringing dictates. Bourdieu regards this ‘ease’, or ‘natural’ ability–distinction–as in fact the product of a great social labour, largely on the part of the parents. It equips their children with the dispositions of manner as well as thought which ensure they are able to succeed within the educational system and can then reproduce their parents’ class position in the wider social system.

Cultural capital (e.g. competencies, skills, qualifications) can also be a source of misrecognition and symbolic violence. Therefore working class children can come to see the educational success of their middle-class peers as always legitimate, seeing what is often class-based inequality as instead the result of hard work or even ‘natural’ ability. A key part of this process is the transformation of people’s symbolic or economic inheritance (e.g. accent or property) into cultural capital (e.g. university qualifications)- a process which the logic of the cultural fields impedes but cannot prevent.


Asserting micro things in a doxic way: “this is how it is done!” If you do things “differently” you will be straitened out. Home Economics asserts a doxa as a doxa – the not too implicit message is that other ways of doing things as “wrong.”

Symbolic violence is the contrast with what you are, and what you should be.

People use food, grooming, clothings; they are more than just “markers” to show if you are showing others, but also yourself who you are. Developing identity.

High Self esteem is not always a good quality.

Power in Boudieu? Resources, illusio (the “right” feel for the game). Foucaults relations of power, where this is the “fit” within the field that will determine success.

A large part of habitus is prospective vision, knowing where it is going…



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