File spoon-archives/bourdieu.archive/bourdieu_1997/may12, message 8

Date: Mon, 07 Apr 1997 23:19:08  +0000
Subject: Re: Distinction and explanation

--On Mon, Apr 7, 1997 10:40 "Carles Martínez" <>

> (I sent, last week, a personal message to the list. Sorry about that--I
> realized the mistake too late. Anyway, thank you for the answers I
> received).
> I would like to ask for comments on Jon Elster critiques to "Distinction"
> (he wrote them in "Sour Grapes"). Right now I have not the book, but as
> long as I remember he criticized Bourdieu's type of explanation, which
> Elster's point of view was something like the result of mixing functional
> and causal kinds of explanation without making it explicit and in a not
> clear and consistent way.
> When I read Bourdieu's "Distinction" I liked it very much but I had a
> strange sensation: everything was circular and self-evident; therefore,
> was like a circular discourse (and indeed a very interesting one) with a
> lack of clarity and, is some way, without a clearly accessible
> It's true that reality is complex and not static, but I also think that
> reductionism is one science strategy and that trying to speak and think
> clearly has some advandatges.
> Roger Martinez
> I don't know Elster's critique (thanks for bringing it to my attention)
but on problems with Bourdieu's mode of analysis/explanation, I strongly
suggest you look at Basil Bernstein 'Pedagogy, Symbolic Control and
Identity' (1996) chap 9. Question: what is arbitrary & non-arbitrary in
Bourdieu's own work. He insists upon its scientific status, but how is it
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