File spoon-archives/bourdieu.archive/bourdieu_1998/bourdieu.9806, message 18

Date: Thu, 18 Jun 1998 21:41:19 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: acteur, agent, sujet

On Fri, 19 Jun 1998, Claude ---- wrote:

> Hello every one,
> 	What about a discussion on subjet and actors and  agent... ?
> I remember I read somewhere an explication by Bourdieu about his choice of
> the word "agent" to give an account of the way people relate and are related
> to social constraint, biographical and social determinations. Still, as he
> introduced the concept of "strategie" to balance the dominancy  he
> attributed to the concept of 'habitus",  I will be interested in hearing
> about how people on this forum think about (and eventualy oppose) a
> sociology centrated on "actors" (Crozier, Touraine) to Bourdieu's approch
> and his choice of the word "agent".

	My reading of Bourdieu would tend to support what you are hinting
here.  Bourdieu's concept of "agent" is not an "actor" which implies, at
least to me, a built-in knowledge of all that is (and can be) within a
social field.  Rational-action theory (see An Invitation to Reflexive
Sociology, p.123 for a discussion by Bourdieu) tends to present "actors"
as all-knowing, unconditioned people who make the "best", often most
economical in terms of cost-benefit, decisions to guide their actions.
Bourdieu's "agent" is necessarily loaded with historical information (not
always germaine to the issue at stake) via habitus, and the negotiation of
habitus with field and others' habitus/field is what allows an "agent" to
"make" decisions.  The dialectic of habitus and field allows a more
complex understanding of the ways that social, biological, and
environmental conditions interface than simplistic approaches that assert
the primacy of just one type of condition or interface.

-Patrick Scott



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