Over the weekend, I read a book on Pierre Bourdieu (Pierre Bourdieu: Agent Provocateur – 2 down, 50 to go), which traced the highlights of his career, bridging together the seemingly disparate strands of his work, from his early ethnographies on Algeria to his work on cultural taste. This is one stop shopping for all of your Bourdieu needs – without having to struggle with his strained prose and syntax.
What I kept thinking of while I was reading this book was how I wanted to be at his level one day, specifically in terms of his socio-political conscience and his desire to help the “dominated” in society. Though he is known for his intellect and his sociology, he made every attempt to use these talents for “good.” One story near the end of the book recounts a protester holding up a sign that read “Remember Pierre Bourdieu!”
Agent Provocateur has reaffirmed my belief that Sociology has real potential to shape and influence the world. My collegue Soci Womyn and I recently had a conversation to this end, and how we are going to stop qualifying these kinds of statements as “I know it is idealistic, but…” Part of our problem right now (in the academy and in general society) is that we fear idealism, we don’t want to set ourselves up for dissapointment. That or the creeping fatalism (that I have discussed here previously) that “its all for naught anyway.”
This kind of thinking needs to be eradicated. What are we doing if not trying to change the world? As Bourdieu pointed out (at numerous different stages of his career), this type of thinking is a misrecognition, steming from a system so totalizing as to offer no alternatives.
Do you think any of it matters outside of that anyway? That our small scale, smaller minded projects are worthwhile?