File spoon-archives/bourdieu.archive/bourdieu_1998/bourdieu.9801, message 10

Date: Mon, 12 Jan 1998 23:57:59 -0600
Subject: a couple of questions

Hello everyone,

I am a doctoral student at the Department of Curriculum & Instruction of
the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US. I need a help from you about
a couple of questions I would like to have below. It would be appreciated
if someone of you could answer or have comments on even only one of them
and email me. I cannot type italics nor some French style like accent aigu
or others here, so please be patient.

(1) I have a Japanese translation of the article written by Bourdieu titled
=B3La Construction Sociale du Sexe,=B2 but strangely enough, there is no
citation of this there. Could someone of you tell me where the article was
originally published in French? I could not find it in Actes, though I
might have missed it. And I would be happy if I could know whether there is
any English translation of it or not.

(2) David Swartz referred to =B3Report of the College de France on the Future
of Education=B2 in his brilliant new book on Bourdieu, but is there any
English translation of =B3Propositions pour l=B9Enseignement de l=B9Avenir=B2? This
is also cited in Bourdieu and Wacquant=B9s Invitation to the Reflexive
Sociology as well, but what it indicates is =B3Principles for Reflecting on
Curriculum,=B2 which was translated into English and published in the
Curriculum Journal in 1990, but these two are different from each other.
=B3Propositions pour l=B9Enseignement de l=B9Avenir=B2 was originally published in
1985 in France. I have a copy of this original version, but I would like to
get its English translation. I would appreciate it if someone of you could
give me a helpful information about this, and in addition about those
English translations of Bourdieu=B9s articles that were published after
1997--I only have a copy of his lecture on gender at Berkeley--or that
cannot be seen on the World Wide Web page on Bourdieu.

(3) Next, please allow me to have a very basic question. It is about
Bourdieu=B9s concept of the total volume of capital, as seen in the
rectangular charts of social space in his book Distinction. It seems that
the issue of different kinds of capital, especially the relationship
between cultural capital as dominated in the field of power and economic
capital as dominant there has been relatively often discussed, but the
notion of the total volume of cultural and economic capital has not. I
understand what it means, and what I want to make clear is how the notion
was generated and designated. This topic might be for almost everyone too
easy to take up, but to someone like me who is not familiar with statistics
in general nor correspondence analysis, it does not seem self-evident, at
least because it does not appear clear how the total volume of capital can
be calculated. Is it nothing that can be directly calculated, but something
like hypothetical concept designated to explain the different sets of
positions in the chart of social space as a result of correspondence
analysis? It seems at least that there is nothing like common unit or
criterion to integrate cultural and economic capital quantitatively; it
appears very difficult to statistically quantify various indications of
cultural capital and impossible to simply add the volumes of two different
capitals without any unit common to them. I think I read Distinction all
over but I might have missed some explanation of these. I would be grateful
if someone of you could resolve this quite naive question or show me what
part of what book or article I should look at.

(4) Finally, I would like you to hear you about what I am now thinking
about. I am grappling with some socio-historical work on the genesis and
the structure of the curriculum field in the United States. My main concern
is with what might be called critical curriculum studies or critical
educational studies in the country. It has not been rare that the words
"curriculum field" are used in the academic place involving educational
studies in this country, but I am trying to analyze to the "field" in terms
of its Bourdieuian concept--as one of the apparently same sorts of studies
I know Ladwig=B9s Academic Distinction(1996)--although my research has many
kinds of limits regarding sociological tools I am able to apply there.

Though it might be that I should be abstinent about this, I am also
interested in that level of discussion which might be called "ought" or
"ought-to-be" beyond the level of analytical discussion, that is, what to
do faced with the reality of the reproduction of educational/social
inequality. In the critical curriculum field as a subfield of the
curriculum one, this problem has been discussed mainly in terms of some
sort of populism. The criticisms of Bourdieu=B9s discussion on
social/cultural reproduction which are found in the field have been too
often superficial and they have not take enough account of his discussion
of cultural production such as scientific and literary field. Among such
populist discourse is that by Henry Giroux. He criticizes reproduction
theories in that they lack the understanding of the productive/active
aspect of the school; those theories do not show us what schools should be.
Then, he thinks it is necessary to build a new theory of
schooling/curriculum, taking in the fruits of postmodernism. In his view,
we should conceive the school to be an arena for cultural struggles, and
the school should be =B3designed to empower students to be critical and
active citizens=B2. For him, those who have a very important role are
=B3teachers as transformative intellectuals=B2--who teach for social
transformation-- or as =B3emancipatory authority.=B2 The elements he emphasizes
here are =B3popular culture=B2 and what he calls =B3the politics of difference.=B2
And this kind of discussion has been becoming influential in part of the
critical educational studies. I admit Giroux=B9s argument has what we should
appreciate positively, but it does not seem to me that it can contribute to
some genuine realistic resolution of the problem of inequality or its
reproduction. In fact, there is more than a little gap between his
perspective and that which can be found in =B3Principles for reflecting on
the curriculum=B2 by a committee partly chaired by Bourdieu and =B3Propositions
for the education of the future=B2(1985 in French) by a committee of College
de France where Bourdieu had the most important role. I just now used the
words =B3realistic resolution=B2. I am wondering here whether it cannot be said
that any realistic resolution of the problem is always partial and any
realistic viewpoint of its resolution is necessarily =B3ambiguous=B2 if it is
true that =B3something real is relational.=B2 I know this way of thinking is
dangerous, because I might unwittingly contribute to legitimizing some
scholastic or intellectual point of view; actually Bourdieu points out the
=B3ambiguous=B2 posture of intellectuals toward the problem of class struggles
or social inequality. However, the populist approach should be termed
=B3ambivalent,=B2 according to the definition of the word by Merleau-Ponty. He
says, =B3Ambivalence consists in having two alternative images of the same
object, the same person, without making any effort to connect them or
notice that in reality they relate to the same subject and the same
person.=B2 In other words, to be ambivalent means to have opposite emotions
of one and the same thing, but we should keep in  mind that when somebody
shows =B3ressentiment=B2 about something/someone, s/he is unconsciously very
often attracted by or wants to appropriate the thing/person involved. Here
we may refer to the Freudian concept of =B3negation=B2 or =B3disavowal=B2
(=B3Verneinung=B2 or =B3Verleugnung=B2), though I do not know which is appropriate
in this case. Therefore, it can be said that polarizing two opposites and
putting too much exaggeration on either of them without awareness of one=B9s
own practical interest is generated by some ambivalent posture. Therefore,
populism as well as elitism as opposed to it can be regarded as some
ambivalent posture. Both of these seem unrealistic ways of the resolution
of the problem. To the contrary, Boudieu=B9s notion of culture or the
viewpoints shown in =B3Propositions for the education of the future=B2 might be
thought of as =B3ambiguous=B2 if we are allowed to look at them from the
viewpoint that is not analytic but rather constructive and propositional.
According to Merleau-Ponty, not only is it that =B3ambivalence is a refusal
of ambiguity, but that ambiguity is ambivalence that one dares to look at
face to face.=B2 In short, to be ambiguous means to admit one=B9s own
ambivalence, in my words. My discussion might be a little confusing, but
this point seems to related to Bourdieu=B9s discussion on =B3the ambiguity of
reason=B2 in his new book Meditations Pascalliennes, which I did not read
because I am not able to do in French. At another place, he argues over
=B3Real Politics of Reason.=B2 Does not this mean that the politics of, by and
for reason which itself is a historical and social product is necessarily
something ambiguous? And is it not that one typical form of refusal of this
ambiguity or real politic is forcing  on ourselves alternative between
elitism and populism? I would like to understand if this question is
relevant or not.

I would like to thank you for your patient reading of my not good English,
though it might be that this humbleness itself should be an object of our
sociological gaze. At any rate, I look forward to hearing you.

Minoru Sawada
Research Assistant and Ph.D. Candidate
Department of Curriculum & Instruction,
University of Wisconsin-Madison
503-I Eagle Heights,
Madison, WI 53705-2033
Phone/Fax: (608)231-1028



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