- How do we analyze the position
of literature in society? Or your chosen work in its society?
- What are the social determinants
of the identities you study? How do we define and describe their 'life
stories' or ours?
- How do you describe the 'habitus'
of the author you analyze?
To radically contextualize
a cultural product (e.g. a literary text), Bourdieu sees it as a product
of an author's trajectory and strategies
in his/her personal and class (collective) habitus
in the field of cultural production which,
in turn, is placed in the field of power.
While delineating the complicated interactions (homologous and antagonistic)
in this field, Bourdieu tries to avoid seeing the author as either plastic
man or autonomous man, or society as social machines or an aggregate
of individual behaviors.
I. Bourdieu's approaches to sociology and his main ideas
2. Habitus & Social Practices
3. the Field of Cultural Production
I. Bourdieu's approaches to sociology and his main ideas:
his theory of cultural field: radical contextualization--
taking into consideration
His analysis of social practices emphasizes four aspects: (including consideration
of both statistical results and personal account, both rules and improvisations.)(Jenkins
- works themselves--seen within
the space of available possibilities and their historical development;
- producers of works in terms
of their strategies and trajectories, based on their individual and
class habitus, as well as their objective position within the field;
- the structure of the field
- the field within the broader
field of power. (Johnson 9)
- See examples of
the spaces of original possibles "The Field of Cultural Production"
- p. 34 avoid the
separation of internal and external analysis.
views on class distinction and taste: (Johnson
- statistic pattern as basic
- problematizing what people
- improvisory and strategic
nature of practice (vs. governed by rules),
Structure, Habitus(¥Í¦s¤ßºA ) & Social Practices
- systems of domination find
expression in virtually all areas of cultural practices and symbolic
exchange, including such things as preferences in dress, sports,
food, music, literature, art and so on, or, in a more general sense,
- "taste classifies, and
it classifies the classifier. Social subjects, classified
by their classifications, distinguish themselves by the distinction
they make, between the beautiful and the ugly, the distinguished
and the vulgar, in which their position in their position in the
objective classifications is expressed or betrayed" (B qtd in Johnson
- Although they do not create
or cause class divisions and inequalities, 'art and cultural consumption
are pre-disposed, consciously and deliberately or not,
to fulfill a social function of legitimating social differences'
and thus contribute to the process of social reproduction.
(e.g. Art works in art gallery or exhibited in rich people's living
Bourdieu's definition and explanation --
Habitus -- a set of dispositions which generate practices
-- original meaning: a habitual or typical condition,
a state or appearance, particularly of the body. Bourdieu's:
a combination of 1) disposition, 2) generative classificatory schemes
(Jenkins p. 74)
1. habitus is "inside
the heads" of actors
2) generative classificatory schemes
2. only exists in, through and because
of the practices of actors and their interaction with each other and
with the rest of their environment
3. signify the deportment, the manner
and style in which actors 'carry themselves': stance, gait, gesture.
-- the practical taxonomies
which . . . are at the heart of the generative schemes of habitus,
are rooted in the body. .
Habitus & Social Practices"
of durable, transposable dispositions, structured structures
predisposed to function as structuring
structures, that is, as principles
which generate and organize practices and representations that can
be objectively adapted to their outcomes without presupposing a conscious
aiming at ends or an express mastery of the operations necessary in
order to attain them. Objectively
'regulated' and 'regular' without being in any way the product of
obedience to rules, they can be collectively
orchestrated without being the product of the organizing action of
a conductor." (B qtd in Johnson 5; The Logic of Practice
53; Polity Reader p. 96)
-- last through the agent's lifetime;
-- they can generate activities in multiple and diverse fields of
-- they inevitably incorporate the
objective social conditions of their inculcation.]
2. acting as a system
of cognitive and motivating structure.
Polity Reader p. 97
3. "This system of dispositions
-- a present past that tends to perpetuate itself into the future
by reactivation in similarly structured practices, an
internal law through which the law of external necessities,
irreducible to immediate constraints, is constantly
exerted--is the principle of the continuity
and regularity which objectivism sees in social practices
without being able to account for it; and also of the regulated
transformations that cannot be explained either by . . . mechanistic
sociologism or by . . .spontaneist subjectivism" (B
qtd in Johnson 6; The Logic of Practice 54; Polity
B's view on social practices
B. Its operation:
1. dialective between structure and habitus: as the product of the
previous conditions and experiences, it is "generative":
"...the habitus is an infinite capacity for generating products--thoughts,
perceptions, expressions and actions--whose limits are set by the
historically and socially situated conditions of its production,
2. the products cannot be unpredictable
novelty, nor mechanical reproduction of the original conditioning.
(Polity Reader 98-99) --> It tends to generate "all the 'reasonable,
'common-sense' behaviors (and only these) which are possible within
the limits of these regularities," (Polity Reader 99)
3. e.g. gender categories and
performances; witticism (101) both "original and inevitable."
C. Methodological Implications:
1. Between objectivism
and subjectivism, one has to return to practice, "the site
of the dialectic of the objectified products and the incorporated
products of historical practice, of structures and habitus" (Polity
2. conditioning of history:
-- The dispositions "inculcated
by the possibilities and impossibilities, freedoms and necessities,
opportunities and prohibitions inscribed by the objective conditions"
generate dispositions compatible with these conditions, and pre-adapted
to their demands. The most improbable practices are therefore excluded.
-- history = past conditions
related to the present conditions (p. 99) "practices cannot be
deduced either from the present conditions ...or from the past conditions...They
can therefore only be accounted for by relating the social conditions
in which the habitus that generated them was constituted to
the social conditions in which it is implemented, that the scientific
work of performing the interrelationship of these two states of the
social world that the habitus performs ...(99-100)
-- "the anticipations of the habitus, practical hypotheses based
on past experience, give disproportionate weight to early experience
-- the habitus, a product of history, produces individual and collective
practices in accordance with the schemes of history
-- the habitus is the active presence of the whole past of which it
is a product
-- " thru the habitus, a present past tends to perpetuate itself
into the future by reactivation in similarly structured practices
-- " the habitus is not consciously mastered and contains an
'objective intention' which outruns the conscious intentions of its
3. Habitus: Embodiment
-- two objectifications of history--in bodies and in institutions
-- "the king, the banker
or the priest are hereditary monarchy, financial capitalism or the
Church made flesh." (101)
Habitus -- two kinds: class habitus and subjective habitus.
Habitus as embodied in individuals, and the habitus as a collective
and homogeneous phenomenon, mutually adjusted for and by a social
group or class.
-- " the members
of a same group or class, being products of the same objective conditions,
share a habitus and the practices of these members are better harmonized
than the agents know or wish"
-- "objective homogenizing of group or class habitus" --
three ways -- (103) a. mutual influence; b. correction by a skillful
workman; c. constructed to assure subsequent agreement.
-- the agents' corrections and adjustments -- presupposes mastery
of a common code;
-- the mobilizing agents--whose habitus has to be compatible with
the dispositions of those who follow (103)
*Between class habitus and singular habitus (104-105) "Each individual
system of dispositions is a structural variant of the others."
(110) Habitus and Power Relations: "The relation to what
is possible is a relation to power; and the sense of the probable
future is constituted in the prolonged relationship with a world structured
according to the categories of the possible (for us) and the impossible
(for us), [...] The habitus is the principle of a selective perception
of the indices tending to confirm and reinforce it rather than transform
- not consciously organized
- fluid and indeterminate
(Jenkins p. 71)
--"specific orientation of practice" (Johnson 17); not completely
conscious or unconscious.
- strategies: the
continual interactions between the disposition of the habitus
and the constraints and possibilities of reality.
- "As a
product of the habitus, strategy is not based on conscious
calculation but rather results from unconscious dispositions
towards practice. It depends on the position the agent
occupies in the field and on what Bourdieu calls that sate of
the 'legitimate problematic" (Johnson 17-18)
- The notion of strategising,
to encompass the fact that actors do have goals and interests,
is also designed to locate the source of their practice in their
own experience of reality --their practical sense of logic.
. .(Jenkins 72)
Field of Cultural Production--or economic world reversed.
- a shadow or reflection
of what the habitus is doing. . .
- an option which is part
of the repertoire of the habitus, not . . . an autonomous or chosen
the agent and the field
Literary field: a field of positions and position-takings.
series of positions successively occupied
by the same writer in the successive states of the library
field, being understood that it is only in the structure of a field
that the meaning of these successive positions can be defined."
(B "principles of a Sociology of Cultural Works" qtd in Johnson
trajectory is one way in which the relationship between the agent
and the field is objectified. It differs from traditional
biography in that it does not search . . . for some sort of 'original
project' that determines and unified all subsequent developments
in a writer's life. It concerns, rather, the objective positions
successively occupied in the field." (Johnson 18)
- Symbolic forms (e.g. novels)
constitute another way in which the relationship between the agent
and the field is objectified.
kinds of hierarchy based on the economic or symbolic/autonomous principles:
"the heteronomous principle
of hierarchization . . .is success. . . The autonomous principle
of hierarchization . . . is degree of specific consecration (literary
or artistic prestige), i.e. the degree of recognition accorded by those
who recognize no other criterion of legitimacy than recognition by those
whom they recognize."(38-39)
autonomous = following its
own logic; with audience who are the other producers.
1. ". . .the more autonomous it
is, i.e. the more completely it fulfills its own logic as a
field, the more it tends to suspend or reverse
the dominant principle of hierarchization.
2. whatever its degree of independence,
it continues to be affected by the laws of the field which encompasses
it, those of economic and political profit"
3. The more autonomous the field becomes,
the more favorable the symbolic power balance is to the most autonomous
producers and the more clear-cut is the division
between the field of restricted production . . .and the field
of large-scale production.. . .
4. systematic inversion
of the fundamental principles of all ordinary economies: that
of business. . . that of power . . .that of institutionalized
5. specific capital: at a given level
of overall autonomy, intellectuals are, other things being equal,
proportionately more responsive to the deduction of the powers that
be, the less well endowed they are with specific capital. (41)
Question: Is the heteronomous
principle definitely favorable to those who dominate the field
economically and politically? Does the more autonomous
field always tend to invert the existing power structure or insist
on a clear division between the field of restriction and that of mass